Recently, I read an article about what we so-call “Millennials” – the way they care about their life, their future, their lifestyle, and especially their passion for traveling. There’s a big debate about these traveling millennials. One economist said that if this kind of trend continues, millennials will face the most uncertain economic future.
But wait, who are these millennials? Millennials are people who were born or came of age during the dawn of the 21st century or the new millennium. They are the first blood of the digital world. They belong to the group of digital natives where technology and modern lifestyle has always been a part of their everyday lives. And today, millennials are changing the face of travel. How?
Nowadays, we millennials choose to spend our money to buy experiences rather than fancy things. We make hostels more appealing, fun and comfortable over luxury hotels. We advocate solo traveling and our tagline? “Traveling solo doesn’t mean being alone.” We know and learn how to make friends on the road, and we highly consider jobs that will give us more ease in moving and traveling.
When I started volunteering and working in a hostel in Bangkok, I met hundreds of guests. About 90% of them were solo travelers. As part of my interesting job, I made sure that our guests were comfortable during their stay, and as much as possible, I interacted with them. As expected, after learning each other’s names, the next questions were always, “Where are you from?” “Since when and how did you start traveling?” Believe me, most of the answers were, “I quit my job last X and I’ve been traveling for X months now.”
It seems that we all quit our jobs to travel, and I’m one of them. I never regret the time that I gave up my corporate career and decided to travel the world. Yes, some people called me impulsive – they assumed that I wasn’t thinking about my future. Others have said that I’m part of the few “privileged” who can just submit their resignation letter and fly. To respond to their assumptions, I’m not.
Whatever privileges I experienced during my travels, I worked hard for them. I didn’t wave a magic wand to build my website, to grow my followers, and to establish my name online. It all comes from hard work, some sleepless nights re-designing my site, writing articles, and working with clients to support my travel. I’m not rich, I don’t have big savings, and I still support my family. But how can I make it possible? It’s simple. I don’t just have a goal… I have a plan to make my dream become reality.
Gladly, I made it. I said that one day I would travel long-term, and even my ex-partner knew that. I told him, “The time will come when I will my quit my job. I want to travel for 2 to 6 months, or even for a year. I don’t know when it will start, but I’m sure it will happen.”
From the day I left the corporate world, that was the start of living my life with uncertainty. It was great to have my freedom. Freedom to go where I wanted, to sleep and wake up at whatever time my body decided. Freedom to explore and go beyond the limit, and to go beyond my own personal boundaries.
Quitting my job to travel for nearly a year sounded fancy to other people, but in reality, it wasn’t easy. I came very close to ending with nothing – my bank account dropped to almost a zero balance. Yes, I might have been in a luxury resort in Bali, walking the streets of Kuala Lumpur, partying in Bangkok, enjoying the cold weather of Hanoi, taking in the spectacular view of Singapore, and relaxing on a beach in The Philippines, but it didn’t come without effort.
Truth be told, I can not always relax. I need to write even if my creativity is not working. I need to bargain with low-paying clients even if, deep inside, I know that I’m worth more than their offer. I need to work more than 8 hours a day in front of my laptop to handle other social media accounts. I need to sell online stuff and carry more than 20kgs of items from Bangkok to Manila just to earn extra money. Why do I keep doing all these things? Simply because I promised my parents to continuously support them. If not, believe me, I would probably not go back to the corporate world.
After my recent 2-month stay in Thailand and Singapore, I came to the point of asking myself, “How much longer are you willing to do all of these things?” Don’t get me wrong. I love what I’m doing, but the big question behind it was, “How long can you live your life without savings?” The blog is earning. I sometimes have a part-time online job. I can do part-time work whenever I’m on the road, like managing a hostel in Bangkok. And all of these are giving me enough money to support my family and my daily needs. But when is “enough” not enough? I think that point comes when I see my bank account not growing.
What else is missing with being a freelancer? I’m still trying to figure out what I should have done better to earn more than what I’m getting. I asked the universe to give me a sign. I had 2 options. I could go back to Thailand, study the language and culture and stay for 8 months. Obviously, this wouldn’t give me financial stability, but I would still have the freedom that I’m enjoying. Or go back to the corporate world. Honestly, the idea makes me sick, but the pay and experience will surely make my bank account grow again to secure my future.
Destiny is playing me once again. The day that I signed my job offer here in Manila is the same day that I received an invite back to Thailand. It was like Destiny was asking me what I would choose this time. I decided to stay here in the Philippines and work. It was not a hard decision, probably the job offer made it easier. The benefits that I’m getting are surely hard to beat, which is why I decided to stay.
My initial goal after quitting my job, to visit all the 81 provinces in the Philippines and the 10 ASEAN countries, is not yet completed. However, I believe that my job won’t be an obstruction, and instead, I look at it as a way to financially support these goals.
We, millennials, are not getting any younger. Go and do the things that will make you happy. Enjoy your life to the fullest. Be crazy and wild. Stop caring about what other people will say negatively about you, and start making your dreams come true. Travel as much as you want and as far as you can. Believe me, it will change your views about the world. It will make you a better version of yourself.
But if the time comes that you need to care about securing your future life, make sure you go for something that you will love doing, or is at least worth your time. Never give up your passion. Don’t stop traveling, but don’t forget that you also need to be a responsible employee and person. There’s nothing wrong with traveling, regardless of how often you want to do it, but let us not disappoint our future selves by having nothing 10 to 50 years from now.