Gea is so passionate about travel (and so eloquent about the experience AND so resourceful with funding…you’ll see what I mean later!) that it’s hard to imagine a time when she wasn’t always going off to one place or another. And yet there was a time when — like so many of us — she was always saying, “I don’t have the money; I’ll travel when I’m rich.” Read on to find out what changed her mind.
Florie Gil (Gea) Pino
I am a chemical engineer by profession but currently working as a Manufacturing Specialist and as a Pollution Control Officer of San Miguel Foods Inc.
HOW DO YOU FUND YOUR TRAVELS?
Honestly, I don’t have a travel fund per se. I do save up if ever I travel. And those savings are backed up by loans. SSS loans go to travel expenses. And sometimes it’s fly-now-pay-later as part of the travel expenses are taken care of by the reliable plastic cards.
Most of the time, even if the tickets are bought way in advance, my travels are based on whatever is available during the airline’s seat sale. I do have places in mind that I want to go to before the airlines offer seat sales.
For someone who is like me — who feels “sick” for not having traveled even locally for two months in a row — and would like to set up a travel fund, have someone keep the money for you. For instance, open a joint bank account with a friend who, like you, would want to have that travel fund. And think of that money as something not really yours, so when the time comes that you need it for a great adventure, you have the finances to back you up.
WHERE WAS YOUR MOST RECENT TRAVEL?
Surigao del Sur
Tip: Traveling in a group will be a lot more economical than traveling alone in this area. Going from one place to another will take a lot of time. So either you go by habal2x which is faster than taking a public bus or you rent a van. Habal2x fare is per motorcycle, so it’s better to have someone to share it with or you pay the full fare all by yourself.
WHERE ARE YOU GOING NEXT?
By next week I will be flying out to the capital. From there, I will travel by land to Zambales to surf. (Note: Because of my publishing schedule, this actually already happened!) But for next year, I have booked myself a ticket to Myanmar among others. And hopefully (God willing), on the later part of next year, to Europe.
WHAT ARE THE PLACES AT THE TOP OF YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET LIST?
EUROPE. No explanation needed.
Singapore has always been my favourite — I’m not sure why! Probably because it was the first country I had been to outside the Philippines. And whenever I’m there, I always feel at home even though I’m just crashing in some friend’s home. You can never get lost in Singapore. Their railway system is the best in my opinion. And the peppered crabs are just so mouth watering. Yes, I know, they’re known for their chilli crabs but the hawker station in Ang Mo Kio offered that peppered crabs were the best — well, except maybe for those chilli crabs that my friend made for my last dinner at their home last year.
By far, my favourite hostel would have to be the Explorers guesthouse in Kuala Lumpur. It’s clean and cheap and offers overflowing coffee anytime of the day and free bread and spreads for breakfast. It’s a few blocks away from Pasar Seni station.
Somewhere in Kuala Lumpur, just across the H&M store, we chanced upon a Mediterranean restaurant. Aside from it being delish, it was friendly on the budget. For someone who could live on Skyflakes just to save up during travels, that’s telling a lot! And the noodles in Blue Sky Hotel in the Old Quarters in Hanoi was really good for 25,000 kip worth. I chose it because it was one of the cheapest on the list (and I really need something other than Skyflakes to eat) and good thing it was far from being a disappointment! That was the best buy.
Travel style or philosophy? I’m not sure. I guess it would depend on what you really like to do — like I always see to it to experience or see what the place is known for or whatever interests me for the time being. But I do admit that food is last on the list, probably because eating is really a necessity so I don’t dwell that much on food. Basically, I just want to see the beauty this world has. Call it sightseeing or whatever, but the sights and wonders of a place is a testament to how beautifully artistic our loving Creator is. Whether it be a place or the people, whenever I see something good I always say “Lord, you are sooo good! You are beyond awesome!” and to be able to see what He has created and to not just see it but experience it, it humbles me that He allowed it to happen and my heart is just full of thankfulness.
Traveling? Dream it and make it happen. Don’t wait for it to happen — make it happen! One convo with the owner of the plant I worked with jumpstarted my travel. He asked me why I haven’t been traveling when he could hear in my voice how much I’d love to travel. My answer was always: I don’t have the money, I’ll travel when I’m rich. Then he said: you don’t need to be rich to travel. You just have to make it a priority. You buy bags, shoes, and other stuff you don’t really need — why not buy yourself a plane ticket? And I was, like, yeah, why not? It was one of the best advice I ever got.
Reading blogs has its advantages and disadvantages. It can trim down what you want to see and what you want to do from your own personal researches. From those blogs, you’ll know how to go to places that are cheaper, safer and more enjoyable. You can estimate the time and money that you need. But it can be disadvantageous as well. It can make your itchy restless feet itch and become restless even more. Your wanderlust will become even more insatiable as your bucketlist becomes even longer, even with the ticking off of places that once were on the list.
And I just realized now: the more I travel to other countries, the more I love the Philippines, the more I appreciate what we have. It’s hard not to compare places, it’s hard not to compare another country with your country. Right now, I’m mentally comparing Phi Phi islands with El Nido and Coron. Haha. But the Philippines will always be the winner for me.
“Real People: Gea Pino” was created by FGP and LSS for travel site Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.