Quit your job so you can travel the world… or do you really have to?
When travel got more and more popular among Filipinos, the idea of leaving everything behind and going on long-term trips was at its peak too. What’s sad, however, is that it mostly came from established travellers who had that privilege (i.e. those who already had enough savings or had existing international connections, to name a few, that made travelling all the time easier for them).
Once others started to take heed, even those who were perfectly happy with their job, it inevitably led to the eyebrow-raising notion that people would never find contentment by staying in their regular jobs. And that full-time travellers were the only ones that deserved to be glorified. But that’s not always the case, as these Filipino office employees prove. The shocking part? They’re not even in the travel industry — not for their full-time jobs anyway.
A graduate of Political Science from a prestigious university in the Philippines, Paolo Rellama travels around six to eight times a year. He manages a blog called The Wknd Travel, where he shares travel tips and details of his personal trips. Among the countries he’s been to include Japan, South Korea, Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
Bebs Abrillo started travelling in college, and got her first passport stamp in 2013 in a solo Malaysian trip. Since then, her thirst to travel more grew. She describes herself as both a planner and an experience seeker. Asked about what her favourite destination is so far, she answered Georgia in the Caucasus region, a trip she dedicated for her 28th birthday.
Like Bebs, Frenzie Berenguel likes to consider herself as a planner. Interestingly, travelling abroad while young is something she’s already put her mind to, sharing that she would like to explore more of the Philippines when she has her own family. She’s been to Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea twice, and also visited China and Thailand, among others.
Benj Ramos is a very passionate travel photographer who shares his experiences through his photos and captions. His favourite memories of travelling include hiking Chola Pass, the second highest pass in the Everest Circuit, seeing the stars from the middle of the Sahara Desert in Morocco, and catching the Northern Lights in remote Iceland.
What’s your current job about?
Paolo: I am a research coordinator and team leader for a construction leads service provider. We research and report on construction, refurbishment and fit out projects across Asia Pacific for our clients who are mainly from the construction industry. I look after editing and publishing projects of a certain portfolio or area.
Bebs: I’m the Strategic Planning Director of FCB Manila. What I do is I develop communication strategies for advertising campaigns of brands and products. Basically, I establish the objectives, target market, key message, positioning, mood and tone in which the campaign should be delivered to consumers. I use research, data, insights and trends on consumers, markets and culture to ground everything on truth.
Frenzie: I work as a tax auditor in SGV & Co. I primarily help clients in the preparation or review of their tax returns. I also perform extensive tax audits to check their compliance with the current tax rules and regulations. On some occasions, I assist their lawyers during assessment cases against the tax authorities. Basically, I eat tax 24/7.
Benj: I am currently handling Product Marketing for the Digital Imaging Business of Sony. To put it simply, I am part of the team that handles and manages everything that involves Sony cameras, lenses, and accessories here in the Philippines.
How long have you been working as a full-time employee?
Paolo: This is my first job. I started working in July 2011. I’ve been with the company for seven years and five months now.
Bebs: In my current company, one year and three months. But I’ve been working full-time in the same industry for six years and two months.
Frenzie: I have been working for five straight years. Being a tax auditor is my first and only job as of date. Despite the horrifying workload and pressure, I am so thankful I am still healthy and happy. Credits to my “mahilig kumain na boss” and “mga super bright at bibong managers and staff”.
Benj: I actually just started working in Sony recently — only almost a month ago to be exact but I’ve been working full-time for four years now!
Any plans of travelling full-time?
Paolo: I don’t have plans of travelling full-time. I just don’t like doing it that way.
Bebs: I do. I actually dream about it all the time. When people ask me what I love doing most, travelling is always my top answer. But I don’t think it’s possible right now. I have a lot of responsibilities and commitments. But if I get an opportunity to travel and earn significantly from it, that would be great.
Frenzie: Although I really like travelling abroad, I honestly do not consider doing it full-time. It is a must that I stick to my goals — to have a successful professional career and to have tons of money. I won’t spend all of my time and hard-earned money just to travel. We need to think about our future, people!
Benj: Definitely yes! A lot of the things I learned while travelling have helped me to get to where I am now! Travelling can make you grow in so many ways just as long as you keep an open mind and heart.
How often do you travel and how do you manage to do it with your schedule?
Paolo: I manage my vacation leaves really well. I go on trips during public holidays (+/- two days the holiday to get cheap fares) here in the Philippines. I also cut down my expenses by booking tickets and accommodations really early. I also take advantage of promotional fares offered by budget airlines. Lastly, I have my own travel fund. I always set aside a certain amount for future trips every payday.
Bebs: I usually travel out of the country four to five times a year. I also try to visit domestic destinations once a month, even just the ones near Metro Manila. I have a limited number of paid vacation leaves so when I already used up all of it, I don’t mind filing it as unpaid leaves. I plan my travels very early, I actually plan it a year ahead. What I do is I identify long weekends, special occasions (birthday, holidays, etc.) and write down destinations that I haven’t been to so that I will be able to maximise my leaves. I don’t really believe in integrating work and life so when I travel, I make sure that I accomplish all my tasks prior so I won’t be obliged to bring my laptop to my personal vacations but I still communicate with my team through Viber if anything urgent comes up.
Frenzie: I travel abroad three to five times a year. Every time I book my flight, I ensure that my trip is at least six months away from the current date. I usually post my flight schedule as an Instagram Story so that everybody in the office would know about it. The most important thing above all, there should be no deadlines or important meetings within the intended trip. Or else, it will be a very hassle trip, believe it or not.
Benj: I take a trip abroad maybe once every quarter just to take a breather and discover new things. Of these four trips I take, I make sure that I go on a major trip — and by major, I mean a destination that I have long dreamed of. Back since I was still in early college, whenever I’d come across a photo or an article of a uniquely beautiful place in the world, I’d save it and add it to the list of my lifelong travel plans. And this is the list that I have been trying to fulfil since graduating — although, it never really seems to get shorter with all the breathtaking places I keep on adding to it. When I entered the corporate world, I made it a point to learn fast, work hard, and do my best. Just so, when I have an opportunity to use my leaves and travel the world, I wouldn’t have to worry about anything I might have left pending or unsolved. Travelling time becomes “me time”.
What do you think about the idea of quitting your job to travel?
Paolo: Travelling full-time is not for everyone. The idea of travelling is fun but doing it every day for a long while can also get boring. You need to settle at one point in your life.
Bebs: I think it’s every wanderlust’s greatest dream. But I also think that it’s a risk. If you have other stable sources of income for your travel fund aside from your full-time job, then why not. If you don’t, then maybe you have to think twice. It’s definitely not that easy and if you can still manage to travel while having a 9am-6pm job, then why quit.
Frenzie: It’s quite an enticing idea but I rather quit travelling (for now) than walk out of my job. But try asking me the same question probably 10 years from now. Let’s see if this resolution still holds true by that time.
Benj: To be honest, it’s my dream and my goal. If you come to think of travelling as a way of getting to know the world, through different flavours, amazing sceneries, unique cultures, and through the stories of people from such diverse backgrounds, how can anyone say no to that?
Any advice to employees who are torn between quitting to travel more and making it work somehow?
Paolo: Know your priorities in life. If you’re into travelling but working full-time, plan your trips and leaves well. Book your tickets and accommodation in advance to save some money.
Bebs: As much as I want to encourage them to follow their passion for travelling, practically speaking, I don’t think quitting their own jobs to do it would be very wise at this time. Travel will always be a luxury. So just plan your travels wisely and allocate a percentage from your salary every month. That way you can still keep your full-time job, have a stable source for your travel fund and enjoy your time travelling the world.
Frenzie: You need to assess yourself if you are prepared to lose your primary source of income. Probably, you just need a little time off from your workplace. File your vacation leave form, not your resignation letter. If it is your dream to travel full-time, go and fly away. Just don’t come running home asking for money — such an embarrassing and irresponsible act.
Benj: Just to be clear, travelling is the most fun and most adventurous way to learn. However, it probably also is one of the most expensive ways to live. If you are currently considering quitting your job and just travelling, just be sure that you are completely aware of its impact on your financials. If possible, develop a business, sideline, or service that can make you earn passively or on a per project basis just to ensure you can follow through on your dreams instead of just giving you temporary joy. Another thing you may want to consider is taking short breaks between employments. When planning to transfer jobs, leave a leeway of a month so you can enjoy a life with no worries and eventually start with a renewed drive in your new company.
What’s your next travel plan?
Paolo: I am in Penang, Malaysia as of writing. After this, I’m flying to Nagano and Kanazawa, Japan in February and Melbourne, Australia in April. I hope to fly to Europe on the second half of 2019.
Bebs: I’m going to Australia this month. It’s my last trip of the year but I might travel again in December with my family. Actually, I already have confirmed flights for next year until August 2019. So yes, I really plan my travels early.
Frenzie: My travel plans are highly dependent on the next airfare promos and consent of my on-the-go friends. Nevertheless, I am eyeing for Jeju Island by winter of 2019 and Japan (for the third time) by 2020.
Benj: New Zealand is definitely on top of the list. I’m sure you guys have seen pictures of its amazing landscapes! It’s a developed country growing and developing along with nature. Plus it has the amazing Southern Lights!
Still think it’s impossible? While travelling might seem like the answer to most of your problems at the moment, know that it’s something you’ll need to work for, and it can tire you at some point too, regardless if you’re doing it full-time or as a form of leisure.
On the one hand, if it were just about balancing work and travel, I’d take my hat off to these travellers many times over. Not only do they exemplify working hard to save for upcoming trips, they also prove that planning your future and pursuing your career, if you care for them enough, can coexist with fulfiling your travel goals. You’ll just have to make it work.
The quotes above have been edited for grammar, clarity and flow.