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How I Travel with a Full-Time Job

From January 2015- January 2017, R and I have travelled to 35 countries across four continents. We had the chance to walk around the Acropolis, marvel at the wonders of Cordoba, do long drives around the UK, and do our weekly groceries at souqs in Casablanca. The travel bug struck R and I big time and since then, we’ve visited four more countries and have already booked our trip to two more countries for later this year.

You might wonder– and this made us wonder as well– how can we travel so much while working full time, able to save for our future life together (more on that on a later post), while earning just enough?

We receive a lot of questions from family and friends on how we get to travel the way we do. Here are some of our “secrets” that help us live a traveler’s life that we’ve always dreamed of:

1. We work remotely

Working remotely is the biggest gift that we’ve received in achieving this dream, and is the main reason as to why we can sustain our travels.

Let me give an overview of how we work:

As for me: 

I work remotely 8 hours a day, 5 times a week. I am lucky because my schedule is quite flexible that I can spread out my 8 hours as long as I cover at least three hours of New York business time. 

Aside from my day job, I also work as the auditor of two co-owned small enterprises, both based in the Philippines. I do daily and weekly audits, and dedicate at least one hour a day to communicate with the manager on-site. I’m just thankful for all the technology available today that I’m able to do this task even when out of the country.

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How we usually work, with a standing desk in tow so we can take a break from sitting for too long (Kirkby Malzeard, Northern Yorkshire)

For R, his work schedule is more demanding. Since he works as a Support Engineer for an irrigation company, he has to work long hours and should be available for calls any time. He works 10- 12 hours a day for 5 days a week, then 5 hours for Saturdays. Sometimes, he also has to work for at least 2 hours on Sundays. The hours are really long. What’s great with his job, though, is he can work from his phone for some tasks so what he does is he purchases a local sim card and signs up for data. He does this for every country that we go to.

So, when we travel, we manage our day based around our work. Our work is top priority since without it, we cannot live this kind of life that we want. Usually, we only travel around on weekends; and we only go out on weekdays for dinner after all work is done.

2. Through research projects

As an anthropology practitioner (for I can’t really call myself an “anthropologist” just yet), I get to receive research contracts in and out of the Philippines. But these do not come to me as manna from heaven. I need to work for and apply for them. I’ve received more turned-down applications than accepted ones, so when I get them I make sure I give my best so I get referred to other projects, or I get to continue with the project when it gets extended.

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Who would have thought we will find ourselves staying in a container van in the middle of a moor for three months? (Kirkby Malzeard, Northern Yorkshire)

I would say the biggest factor as to why I got into research contracting is because of this UNDP research project that I luckily got accepted to back in 2013. More projects came pouring in after that, and I’m really thankful for the opportunity. There is a lot of room for improvement though since I only have a bachelor’s degree, and some projects are reserved for those with masters and PhD degrees.

It is through this job that R and I get to travel to off-the-beaten tracks including Itogon (Benguet), Kirkby Malzeard (Great Britain), Casablanca (Morocco), and Jaipur (India).

3. Through business trips

This opportunity is thanks to R’s company who is kind and generous enough to shoulder both of our travel expenses when R has a workshop, seminar, meeting, or conference to attend. He travels once a year in the US, once around Southeast Asia, and once in Europe. So in a year, we both get three trips cared of by R’s company!

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Staying in a country club: one of the many perks of R’s business trips! (Singapore)

And since R and I both travel smart aka within our means, it’s a great chance for us to travel beyond what we can afford. We get to travel on business class, stay at 5-star hotels, and eat in nice restaurants. Oh, why oh why do these kinds of trips have to end!

4. Through company trips

Once a year, in summer, our family receives a free trip thanks to a Philippine-based company that my parents are co-owners of. All the co-owners’ families receive this free trip, and so we all make sure we are available for this trip. It is definitely one of the rare opportunities for all our families to bond.

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Traveling inter-country by private bus. Again, something I can’t afford without this annual travel opportunity 😛 (Cologne, Germany)

Again, for this one, I make sure I get to join because I am able to enjoy a kind of travel that I cannot afford. Traveling around in a private hired bus, staying in 4 to 5-star hotels, and having private guides– It is the kind of travel that I wouldn’t want to miss!

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These are the many ways by which R and I can travel so much for the past few years. When we set our sights three years ago into exploring the world together until we grow old, we did our best to achieve location independence with our work. It took us some years to get to where we are today, but it is not impossible to achieve.

We may not be able to afford many of the physical luxuries in life, but we definitely appreciate and are always thankful of the life we have today. We are now where we want be, and we are forever grateful 🙂

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Market of Senlis in Senlis, France (Marché de Senlis)

I’m now working on a documentation project on traditional markets in Africa, Asia and Europe in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative to “help promote awareness of and provide tools for laypersons to engage with heritage.” For the next 12 months I’ll be featuring markets in these regions, with a brief guide on the “must-knows” when visiting. The nitty-gritty socio-cultural details will be featured on a future publication. Join me as we tour around bazaars of the world! 🙂

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The Senlis street market within the medieval walls

Name of market: Marché de Senlis/ Market of Senlis

Address: Downtown of Senlis, L’Oise, Hauts-de-France, France.

Operating days and times: Tuesday and Friday, 8:00 AM – 12 NN

How to get there: via train from Paris Gare du Nord or Paris Gare de Lyon. The trip takes around 1.5 hours. If via car from Paris Gare du Nord, it takes around 45 minutes.

Website: www.en.senlis-tourisme.fr

Fast Facts:

  • Senlis is a medieval town built in the 12th century and stands as a testament to changes in the socio-economic and political climate of France. It is said that nothing much has changed since it was left in ruins right after the end of the French Revolution in 1799.
  • Aside from the local street market, other town attractions include the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Senlis castle, and the now-abandoned (thankfully) Roman ampitheatre which staged gladiator fights.

Visitor Tips: 

  • Arrive early especially if you’re looking to shop for fresh produce and homemade cooked foods. They sell out pretty fast.
  • It can help if you know how to speak a bit of French. Since this is a local market with trades dominated by the older generation, many stall owners will appreciate it if you at least know how to ask for prices and to count in French.

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut❤

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Rtw.in.3.meals on Instagram

R and I have been keeping a tab of our food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (thus, “3 meals”) since late last year. Our initial goal was to strive to eat healthier. Obviously, as you will see on the subsequent posts, we’ve been a failure so many times and have since been happy being so.

Since we started the page last September 25, 2016, we’ve posted 267 meals (of which many others went on unrecorded for we were either too hungry or too embarrassed to take photos :P) spread across eight countries.

This foodie page is more of R’s passion, the better eater between us. But when you talk about chocolates, ice cream, and all the other desserts, count me in!

Follow us and see where these three meals have been taking us 🙂

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Follow us: rtw.in.3.meals

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Market Find 3: Barbecue Skewers

Largely a meat-loving society, it is common for Filipinos to have meat viands and snacks paired up with steamed rice and sawsawan (dips).

Visitors to the Philippines may find it surprising to see barbecue skewers being sold in markets both in large and small markets. The fare is sold so casually that even kids are asked to fan out the skewers as they are being roasted with locally sourced charcoal and a makeshift rack.

At around PHP 10 (0.2 USD) per stick, it is not bad when you’re craving for a rich protein fix. As for health concerns, I think this issue has more to do with how soon and how much you want to adapt. We all can’t go on eating off a pack, don’t we?

Barbecue skewers at PHP 10 per stick!

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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Market Find 2: Churros

A main fare in Spain and in its former and current colonies, churros, also called tejeringos, calientes, calentitos de rueda, or calentitos de papas, has gained worldwide popularity thanks to its addicting texture and taste.

It is not uncommon to see churros in markets in Spain, Latin America, and in the Philippines. However, remember that churros has been indigenized depending on where it’s made. For example, in the Philippines, churros has inspired the creation of deep fried “donat” (a borrowing from the term “doughnut”).

Try churros plain, with dulce de leche, chocolate, or cinnamon as popularized by Disney Theme Parks.

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Churros with dulce de leche filling (Seville, Spain).

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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Market Find 1: Ar-arosep/ Seaweed/ Sea Grape/ Green Caviar

The Philippines has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world and its marine life is no exception.

One interesting find in Philippine markets in the Ilocos region is “Ar-arosep,” a local term for seaweed, sea grape, and green caviar.

Only seasonally available in high-end restaurants overseas, the Philippines is lucky yet again to be gifted with Ar-arosep that is best known to treat thyroid disorders. That is an advice taken from local elders who have precious wisdom passed down from generations.

Water pollution is the major threat to the increasing fall of Ar-arosep.

If you pass by Ilokano markets, be sure to look for this navy green, bush-like presence. It’s best enjoyed fresh with sliced Ilokano tomatoes (tiny but very sweet).

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Ar-arosep: one of the many overlooked Philippine market finds

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤

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Nagwon/Nakwon Music Arcade in Seoul, South Korea (낙원 악기상가)

I’m now working on a documentation project on traditional markets in Africa, Asia and Europe in partnership with GoUNESCO, a UNESCO New Delhi initiative to “help promote awareness of and provide tools for laypersons to engage with heritage.” For the next 12 months I’ll be featuring markets in these regions, with a brief guide on the “must-knows” when visiting. The nitty-gritty socio-cultural details will be featured on a future publication. Join me as we tour around bazaars of the world! 🙂

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The Nagwon Music Arcade. Since all signs are written in Korean, look for the Standard Chartered Bank across the subway. The arcade starts on the second floor of this building.

Name of market: Nagwon/Nakwon Music Arcade (낙원 악기상가)

Address: 110-707 428, Samil-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul

Operating times: Monday – Saturday (closed on Sundays), 9 AM – 8 PM

How to get there: via subway, Jongno-3-ga Station (Line 1, 3, 5, Exit 5, to your right). It starts on the second floor of Standard Chartered Bank.

Fast Facts:

  • This is the ultimate go-to for music enthusiasts in South Korea. The arcade has everything: from Spanish guitars, baby pianos, to pink guitars customizable with your own name.
  • As the arcade is mostly catered for Koreans, the signages are written in Korean as well. Just ask around where “Nagwon Music Arcade” is and locals will be more than helpful to assist you. Tip: It’s on the second floor of “Standard Chartered Bank” just across Exit 5 of Jongno 3 (sam)-ga station.
  • Shop owners here know their stuff well as they are serious musicians themselves. You will be safe from vague selling points typical with general music stores.

Visitor Tips:

  • It would be useful to learn basic Hangeul (Korean script) and Korean when visiting this market because almost all signs are written in Hangeul. You can check out Talk to Me in Korean, hands down the best resource for Korean language learning!
  • South Korea now has an information hotline for tourists, operating 24/7. You can call the office at 1330 (when calling within Korea), or +82 1330 (when calling from outside Korea). Four languages are currently supported: English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Get lost and find yourself. Happy travels! 🙂

P.S. The keys to sustainable travels are universal: take public transportation | stay in accommodations where cooking is allowed (private or shared, it doesn’t matter) | walk as much as you can | wake up early | stay away from guidebooks | immerse yourself in local language, culture and history | visit local cafés | know that the possibilities are endless | listen to your gut ❤