I must admit — there’s an unequivocal sense of accomplishment that comes with foreign travel. The additional stamp on our passports. The unnecessarily heavy luggage full of clothes that our tropical country renders useless. Of course, there’s also the whiff of pride and liberation when we finally upload our photos on Instagram. Especially after we geotag a location unattainable to most.
At least, that’s how I’ve felt towards foreign travel since I got my first passport stamp in 2003. Perhaps, not everyone thinks the way I think; but me, I’ve always over romanticised distance. The farther the place, the more special it was.
In college, I discovered my love for local travel. It started with a spontaneous trip to La Union, then a secret getaway to Itogon. My weekends were full of exploring the surrounds of Baguio — sometimes with friends; most of the time, by myself.
But behind my regular local travels, I had a lingering thought that once I’d earned more money, I’d frequent overseas destinations. Local travels, although I enjoyed them, seemed like a stepping stone to my ultimate dream of globetrotting.
‘Sa Pilipinas na lang muna.’
Because of the pandemic, the world has practically shut down. As for foreign travel? No one’s thinking about that right now. It’s such a risk leaving the house, what more leaving the country? Still, we’re on our toes for when we can travel again. And since it seems like it’s going to take a while until we can safely travel the world, we’re starting to scout for local destinations that we could visit.
Sa Pilipinas na lang muna, I’ve heard people say, as if Philippine destinations were a bargain. And with all that I just said, I totally get where they’re coming from. Exploring the world, meeting new people, immersing ourselves in diverse cultures, tasting exotic food — all these make foreign travel so thrilling!
But while this may be true, I’d have to reiterate — maybe for myself than for anyone else — that travelling locally is not settling for less. Rather, it’s challenging ourselves to find more where we already are.
A newfound appreciation for local travels
To be completely honest, I only realised my growing affinity for local travels two years ago. Being a travel writer compelled me to learn about various travel styles and interests; eventually, I recognised my preference for slow, local travels.
At first, I fell more in love with our local beaches, exclusively. And then, the quarantine happened. This period has given me a chance to reflect on the forgotten beauty of my hometown, Quezon City. I’m not much of a fan of the city, but from where I’m standing right now, even the idea of the bustling streets of the Metro excite me!
Yes, travelling abroad shows us everything our country lacks; then again, it also reminds us of everything it has: Pristine shores and majestic peaks, mouth-watering dishes, colourful fiestas, up-and-coming art scenes, under-the-radar islands, vibrant cities… I digress.
To cut the mumbling short: The Philippines is not a bargain. It’s a steal.
Most days, I wish for change and improvement for our dear motherland — only because I know it deserves more than this! But then, I still count myself blessed for where I’m at. While the world heals, it’s a privilege that we get to travel the Philippines first.
Cheers to more local travels ahead.