The truth about traveling that nobody talks about

I knew it would cost around $1,000 – $2,000 USD but I still opened my laptop and checked the flights. Bingo! Lima, Peru to Manila, Philippines = $1,200 USD, one-way.

My mind and my heart were arguing and it was a big fight. A very ugly one, for this matter. “I miss Mama and Papi.” I thought while hoping to find a much cheaper flight. 

“Should I stay or should I go?” “What if….” “But…”

A heavy breath. Heart pounding. I closed the laptop and meditated for a while:

Am I ready to go home?

Most travelers can talk about hundreds of countries they’ve been to but when it comes to talking about home, the vibe shifts from being so high about places from being sober.

Believe it or not, as much as you are scared to live a life of travel, I am not very comfortable of coming home.

A lot of things have changed since I left to travel the world. The way I dressed changed. My food preference changed. The way I talk changed. I changed.

I don’t worry about not being able to leave again once I go home. I am worried about how much I changed throughout the years. What if I won’t be able to connect with old friends?

What if I don’t think the same way my siblings and parents think? What if we will all end up arguing because they don’t agree on what I say? What if I won’t be allowed to say things in my head to fit in my culture?

Let me explain it to you thoroughly: I come from a culture of gossip, of superficiality, of telenovelas (aka drama), of celebrities as an ideal role model, of ignoring the truth instead of talking about it.

I come from a country where the words hook up, condoms, sex etc are vicious and kind of vulgar to say in public, let alone publish it in a blog.

By the way, I already wrote about all those ‘vicious’ words they are referring to. I was once like that.

I once was like a person who pretended to be another person, who idolised a lot of celebrities, lived and dressed like them, who talked about other people’s lives instead of my own and I will never deny that.

It was so hard to accept who I was in a society where your social status matters — even your shoe brand plays a big factor.

Traveling changed all that. I now live simply, has a very big heart for the Universe and understands that there is no room for judgment in this world because every person we meet is fighting a hard battle every day. I stopped questioning people’s roots, skin color, marital status, social status and just accepted them for who they are, genuinely.

And I am not just saying this — I feel it with all my heart. Best of all, I already practiced how to be honest with every little detail of my life that is why most of you know me inside and out even if we haven’t met. My life is an open book.

My writing has always been questioned by a few people and this post is coming from certain events that took place this week.

First, someone shared one of my 100 Things I Will Teach My Future Daughter If She Decides To Travel the World One Day post and I was really surprised that there are still some people who don’t have an open mind about things. 

“Condoms? Really? You will teach your daughter to bring condoms all the time? You even wrote the word three times! You are not a mother so don’t give any advice. You don’t know anything.” 

By the way, writing it three times landed me on a job offer to write a script for TV commercial ad in the US. The company said they were googling for the word “condoms” and my post appeared even though it wasn’t really relevant. 

I don’t need to explain myself but I don’t think there’s anything wrong about teaching your children (most especially teenagers who are so high about exploring life) to use condoms.

And yes, this person is right — I am not a mother so I don’t know anything about being one. But I am pretty sure it’s very hard to bring them in this world to raise them.

However, when the time comes, I will stick to my word. I will raise my children with honesty, without sugarcoating words and just talking about the truth all the time.

The culture I want them to grow up in will be a culture of truth and openness. I believe no one really wants to talk about the truth because somehow, it stings and it always makes humans uneasy.

Second, I met a girl from Armenia who left her country and traveled the world and she’s pretty much thinking the same. 

“I am different now, Trisha. And going back to Armenia scares me a lot. As you know, I am from a more conservative country than yours but I chose to leave and change my path.” 

Karin, if you are reading this, thank you for the wonderful conversation yesterday. I am truly amazed by your bravery to live the life you want instead of listening to what other people dictate the way of life you should be living.

Am I ready to go home?

I asked again. Am I ready to go back to the culture I grew up in? Don’t get me wrong. I am very proud to announce to the world that I am from the Philippines.

Regardless of all the drama and the gossip, I am from a country of heroes who help each other when they’re in need, who sacrifices everything for their family and who loves unconditionally. But still, the answer is no. I am not ready to go home.

I forgot about booking the ticket. I didn’t even feel the need of doing it again. “I will stay here. Probably longer.” I saidHome is just one plane away and I can always do it whenever I want to.

In my head, it’s too complicated but to be honest, booking a ticket is the easiest thing in the world (okay I got you. You are thinking I am rich that I can afford to buy one anytime.)

Salute — to all the people who are not afraid of the truth, to all the brave writers out there who speak their mind even if they are always being criticised and to all the travelers who were able to make it home after a long journey.

Big announcement: For the first time in two years, I decided to live in Peru for a longer period of time instead of hopping from countries to countries every 90 days. We’ll see how this rolls.

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  1. Trish, the Philippines is getting better, albeit slowly, no dramatic changes but better than when you left. Your decision to stay is apt, brave and commendable. I travel a lot as well but not as long as you’ve been on the road (longest was 6 months) & I often wish that more Filipinas are as open-minded as most western girls I met on the road. I can see that traveling has played a big part in your evolution & I wish more Pinays go the same path.

    PS: In my traveling/backpacking “career” since 2007, I only met 2 fellow Filipino backpackers on the road; Jaja in Koh Phiphi and a swiss-filipina in Annapurna in Nepal. Filipino backpacker is such a rare breed that my heart flutters when I meet one. Hope our path cross one day is South America.

  2. Trisha, I feel you! You are, and will always be an inspiration to many– to me! I even mentioned you in one of my blog entry (Being, You).

    Here’s the thing, going home is learning the lesson why you left on the first place. True, it is one plane away. But if in case you decide to go back home for– awhile, think about the HUGE changes in you to be a positive influence to your family and friends. Yes, there will be issues and sensitive topics to be discussed, but your open-mindedness about the world and it’s amazing people will give you the opportunity to defend them in any possible way you can.

    I was an OFW in China for years and I was fortunate that I get to go home every year. I tell you, every homecoming I had, my heart desires to help the Philippines– the tourism economy and labor force. You know too well, now that you’ve come across different people from different cultures & races through your travels that we, Filipinos have so much potential! We have so many things to offer as a country that sadly, are not put into good use because of our corrupt officials and our “inggit” mentality. It’s a long shot to take, but we have to start somewhere, right? So as inspiring, as influential, and as awesome as you are, continue the conversation (about safe sex & traveling)…or start whatever advocacy you feel that our country needs. Because Philippines desperately need people to open up their eyes to the harsh reality of our backlog society, from political power & dynasty, to telenovelas, to labeled things, to gossiping.

    I, myself, had a hard time explaining to my very conservative, very religious, and very righteous family members about the changes in ME after seeing and living into the world outside of our own. My mother, believe it or not, is still in denial that at 33 with a foreigner bf– I’m no longer a virgin! In fact my travel plans that will somehow lead to life plans, have greatly shifted because of her “religious” antics. (It’s a loooong story! haha) Sabi nga nila, bawal sumagot sa mga nakatatanda. Toinks!

    But kidding aside, I am happy to see that more and more Filipina women or ladies like you, don’t settle at an early age. That you break the barriers of our norm. So wherever your heart desires to live…go for it! But also look back. 😉 It is my wish and prayer, that one day, going abroad (to work) for Filipinos will only be an option– not a necessity. And one day, I wanted to go back home to help in the advocacy of teaching children about sexuality, so that they will know how to stand up to any sexual harassment or sexual abuse. (Rape culture in Pinas is heartbreaking and devastatingly painful.)

    I wish you the best of luck to your new adventures and challenges! I got a teaching job in Brazil in June, so maybe I can couchsurf with you in Peru one day. 😉

    Stay safe & happy travels! Kisses from NYC!

  3. Beautiful words, I’m looking forward to your next adventures! And don’t forget: home is where the heart is 😉

  4. Going home was so hard! I doubted my decision so many times. Sometimes I wish I had stayed abroad, although I would not have met my husband if I did so everything worked out well in the end. It’s certainly much harder to decide to go home than it is to decide to leave. When you leave you’re afraid of the unknown; when you go home, you’re afraid of everything you know is back there.

  5. You inspire me so much Trisha! I’ve been reading you for a few months now, and I love your blog! This one in particular, as I will be leaving for my first trip to South America early September, and funny enough I’m coming to Lima to teach English! 🙂 If you’re still around maybe we can grab one of those pisca drinks.. (I think that’s what they’re called.. loll) I’m happy for you that you’re following your heart and staying in Peru! Hope we’ll have a chance to meet! Cheers 🙂

  6. According to title of article I was expecting something about dangerous and lonely stuff on road… But this is brilliant. I like your brutal honesty, the way you do not hesitate to talk truly about your country and stereotypes…

  7. Hi! I’m a new reader of this blog and I was so amazed to realize you are a filipina let alone say a back-packer! I always wanted to see the world, but scared of the things/people that I would get left behind. I mean, their lives will continue without me – and people might forget me. Anyway, I think you should go home. I feel like you miss home. I’m pretty much sure whether you’ve changed big time or not, people who loves you would still see the real you. Have fun on your life adventures! Btw, my name is Gail. Hope we could be friends 🙂

  8. You’re so brave, it’s inspiring! If you’re stopping by Chile anytime after Peru, you can drop me a note and maybe we can meet up. I don’t know if I just don’t go out as much but I’ve hardly met other pinoys in Santiago 🙂

  9. Hi Trisha. I really feel you. Everything you wrote in the article is the exact thing that’s happening to me. Every single time I am heading home after travelling, I would feel confused. Maybe some would be VERY eager to go back home, but I don’t. I’m always terrified of what would happen to myself when I’m at home since home is somewhat a heavenly comfort zone.

  10. i feel you. it’s been my 4th time to go home after long term travels and there are indeed changes.. i feel the reverse culture shock everytime.. there are still annoyances but i decided to look past that and just look on the brighter side.. people are changing, and while more and more people are traveling, more are exposed to a wider perspective of life.. let’s inspire more people to go out of the bubble to see things in a beautiful perspective.. ^_^

  11. The similar thing happened to me. I’m coming from Croatia, very beautiful, yet very close-minded country. After all those years traveling I’ve learned what does it mean to be completely without any prejudice, and how bad is to judge people without getting to know them better and still in my home country nothing, or almost nothing, had change and sometimes I wonder will it ever change or I just need to learn how to deal with it.

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