- Travel Topics
1. Can you start by giving us a little bit of background about yourself and your blog. How did you start traveling? When did you start blogging, and what did you expect readers to get out of it?
Hi to all the readers of A Couple Travelers, you can call me Flip, I’m the blogger behind FlipNomad. I was born and raised in Manila, Philippines. I used to work in a BPO (business process outsourcing) company in Manila and I decided to leave my job after I discovered the fun and crazy world of traveling. My first trip outside my country was in 2007 where I celebrated my birthday with my friends in Singapore and Thailand. And on that trip, I met so many travelers and heard so many amazing adventure stories and I was instantly hooked. And that’s the beginning of this phase of my life wherein I work for a year and quit and travel continuously for a few months. This trip is the longest since I’ve been on the road for two years now (left last 2011).
I started blogging after I came back from my first solo backpacking trip which lasted for six months last 2009. I searched the internet about people who are traveling for a long time and read a lot about how they sustained themselves financially. And I came across the term digital nomad, location independent and bloggers. So yeah, I made a blog hoping that one day it would help me fund my travels and it did.
When I started making my blog I know that I’ll be writing a lot on how I’m making this traveling lifestyle a possibility for me. I’m from a third world country where wage is very low and where our passports could only get us in to a few countries. I write a lot about cheap ways to travel because I know that I’m not the only person who’s dreaming to see the world and experience a variety of cultures but has limited financial resources to support the dream. My readers can expect a lot of information about budget travel, off the beaten path destinations and of course, travel inspirations from other travelers and travel bloggers through my weekly Meet the Nomads interview segment.
2. Let’s talk experiences – what has been the best experience you’ve had on the road? The worst?
The best part of this experience is the entirety of it. Beyond the awesome tours, tasting delicious cuisines, meeting interesting and uber kind people, mind blowing landscape and unforgettable road trips, it has always been the freedom to not live a structured life that I enjoy the most in traveling. This traveling lifestyle enabled me to escape the old mentality that I have, to challenge myself to be a better person, wake up anytime I want, sleep anytime I want, eat and drink anything I want, go anywhere I want (only places that I can afford to go to though) and a lot more. It gave me so much time to DO THINGS I LIKE AND I LOVE EVERYDAY whereas in my previous life, I have to wait for the weekends before I can do those stuff and only if my boss approves my vacation leaves. Now I don’t wait for the approval of anyone anymore. Traveling changed my life and it’s one of the best things that has happened to me.
The worst part in this nomadic lifestyle is just like what you have said in your previous post, it is trying to earn a living while traveling. It’ exhausting and sometimes frustrating.
3. I read that you used to work in a call center. What was that experience like?
It was fun and a great learning experience. It helped me improve my communication skills and my dealings with people from different segments of society (race, economic status, age etc). The most challenging part was managing teams from multiple geographic locations (which also means different time zones). I didn’t have a fixed sleeping time. Sometimes I only sleep less than four hours a day because of multiple conference calls that I have to attend etc.
4. You primarily travel around Asia. Do you have any plans to travel to Europe, South America, etc?
As of now, I only travel in Asia since it’s the only place that I can afford to go to especially now that I’m a full time traveler/blogger and don’t have an employment income to support my travels. But prior to becoming a long term traveler, I’ve been to Europe and USA but not to travel though but just to do training and attend conferences.
5. We very rarely see Asian backpackers on the road. Why do you think this is? How were you able to overcome this?
In my opinion, there are only a few Asian backpackers (with the exceptions maybe of Japanese, Koreans, and Singaporean and people from Hong Kong and Macau) because of a couple of things:
How did I overcome this? I don’t know if I was able to completely overcome this but definitely I found a work around. Luckily my hardworking parents made sure that I finish my university degree and it helped me get a job. I only got to travel outside the Philippines six years after that because I was able to save some money after getting promoted. I also don’t travel to places that are expensive since I cannot afford to do so as of now. So maybe technically, I have not completely overcome this yet.
6. Do you ever feel that traveling on a budget cuts into your experience? Where do you draw the line in terms of what is worth it?
I live within my means and after being on the road for two years now I’ve learned that not being able to afford to fly a hot air balloon over some nice fancy place does not make mytravel and my life experience less or more compare to another traveler.
Maybe the only thing that I’d like to spend money on now is travel insurance. I’ve been traveling for two years now and my insurance already expired on the first year and I have not been able to renew it yet. Luckily I have not been sick nor got into any accidents.
Oh I forgot, one of my favorite things to splurge on is dinner buffets ;-). Whenever I’m in a big city I try to visit a few hotels and try their dinner buffets.
7. As both a Philippine local and traveler, can you explain how recent developments in tourism have affected the country? What are the positives and negatives, and is there a general consensus among locals as to how they feel about tourists?
Tourists are very lucky not only in the Philippines but in the whole Asia. The people are so hospitable and warm (of course with the exception of a few bad people –which by the way exists anywhere in the world).
Tourism definitely brings a lot of income. I just hope that land development and environmental management programs are observed strictly.
I’ve been to a lot of virgin islands where the water is so clear, the sands are blindingly white and with abundant marine life, paradise as some people say. And whenever I’m in those places I can’t help but imagine that one day those green sturdy trees will give way to hotel buildings, golf courses, bars and restaurants. Good or bad??? I’m not really sure, but I just hope that they leave some places as it is and just restrict tourism to some places to maintain an ecological balance.
8. What are some of the mentality differences you’ve noticed between the people in the various Asian countries you’ve visited?
More than the differences, I always notice the similarities not only with the Asians (that I met) but also with the Americans, Europeans and other nationalities that I met. All of us have a dream that we want to achieve, have families and friends that we love and want to protect. And all of us eat, drink and breathe to survive and all will eventually die (sorry if it sounds so morbid).
The differences that I noticed are merely base on culture and religion that we grew up with. I grew up in the only Catholic country in Asia and that means that the entire Southeast Asia is so much different with our way of living. We don’t use chopsticks in Manila but spoon and fork, English is our medium of language in schools and offices, we don’t have gorgeous temples but we have equally awe-inspiring churches. When it comes to family culture, all the places in Asia that I have visited are almost the same. We take good care of our friends and families. We live in extended families. We’re very social and we try our best not to lose face in public (shame). “Guilt” is also another major player when it comes to our emotions.
9. What are your upcoming plans, both travel and non travel?
I’m planning to go to China, Nepal and back to India but I’m not sure if it will materialize since my online earning seems to have been slowly drying up for some reasons that I don’t understand. For non-travel, I’m keeping myself busy building niche sites and thinking about other possible businesses (ugh!).
I’m also thinking of improving my photography skills. So I’m planning to spend more time practicing and learning the technicalities of taking great pictures.
10. What do you miss most about being home? Do you ever think about calling the quits?
I miss my family and my friends more than anything else. Luckily, it’s so easy to make free voice/video calls now over wifi.
Yeah, I’ve been thinking of quitting blogging but not traveling. I’m thinking of traveling slower. I really enjoy this kind of lifestyle and as of now, I can’t think of anything else to do.
Flip is a travel blogger from Manila who writes a lot about budget travel tips and off the beaten path destinations in Asia. You can follow his adventure at FlipNomad. You can also follow him in Google +, Facebook and Twitter.