I didn’t realize it’s been a month since I took a flight from Manila to Vietnam to start my backpacking journey in Southeast Asia and become location-independent. I travelled to Ho Chi Minh City and Mui Ne in Vietnam, Siem Reap in Cambodia, and Bangkok in Thailand.
I didn’t maximize the number of days before my passport expired for each country as this month was more of a vacation than anything else. Despite the sudden change of locations, I came across a few realizations and learned some lessons along the way.
1. Stay healthy!
I overdosed on spicy food in Thailand but I still kept eating them. I also didn’t watch what I ate that I ended up having diarrhea for a couple of days.
I can’t afford to get sick. Aside from the cost of medicines, I also wasted time trying to recover my health. I could’ve used the opportunity to work on other jobs that would allow me to generate more income. Or I could’ve used the time to explore other areas in Bangkok.
Thai Food – spicy!
Thinking that I’m invincible all the time is foolish so I need to be extra cautious especially when I’m on the road and I have fewer people to rely on for help.
2. Ask and you shall receive; haggle.
We found a guesthouse in Siem Reap and the initial price for a fan room with two beds and WiFi was 180 USD. Because of my friend’s haggling skills, we were able to bring it down to 120 USD.
On top of the discount, we wondered if they had bikes available, they gave us two. We asked if we could use their kitchen, they said yes. We requested for hangers to dry our clothes, they gave us a lot. We asked for a table inside the room, they brought one. We also inquired if we could borrow their pail and store food in their fridge, they willingly agreed.
our room for one month in Siem Reap, Cambodia
What was a basic room for a month turned out to be something more. We didn’t have to spend on other costs (hangers, buying a pail, plates for food, etc.) because we ASKED.
3. Long-term backpacking is NOT for everyone.
I realized that this whole long-term backpacking gig is not for everyone. Anybody who likes to try this out needs to consider a lot of things first. How much comfort are you willing to let go in order to be on the road? Preparation is the key but don’t miss out on looking at other areas. Are you emotionally up for the challenge? Can you handle the stress?
Poipet border in Cambodia
photo by Doi
But despite so many questions to consider, how badly you want it and how much you’re willing to sacrifice to continue doing what you want to do is what matters in the end. Still, if backpacking is not for you, you can still travel the way you want to.
4. Don’t expect too much.
Expecting that everyday will be a great adventure is good. But when you already have a vision of what you’re going to experience, you might get upset when things don’t go according to plan.
trapped in the sand
Mui Ne, Vietnam
When you expect too much, you close your mind to possibilities that might happen. Travelling is a different experience every time. Open your mind and just accept whatever comes your way. Otherwise, you’ll be disappointed.
5. Surround yourself with positive people.
“You are the average of the people you spend the most time with.” – I am reminded of this quote from a conversation I had with Eileen of Possibly Pinay. This was also reinforced when I talked to Mica of Senyorita.net that we need to “surround ourselves with positive people – physically and virtually”.
hanging out with new friends (Markus, Denisse, Doi, and Tony)
Fish Massage in Siem Reap
Travelling can sometimes get boring; most especially when you don’t have a lot of money to burn and you just stay in your hostel to work. But it is a must that you interact with people who don’t suck the happiness out of you.
6. Life is what you make it.
Cliché as it might seem, life is truly what you make it. Whether you have all the money in the world or you’re still making ends meet, it’s all about perspective.
Japanese street performer
Chatuchak Market, Bangkok
Is the glass half-empty or half-full? Which one do you wish to focus on? What do you do to fill the other half and make it whole again?
7. Love motivates you.
So many things happened during the month, falling in love was one of them. I didn’t realize how my world turned around because of being struck by cupid. It’s such a beautiful thing to happen to anyone.
in Angkor Wat Complex
I suddenly have a new aspect in my life that’s opened up and and this gives me all the more reason to work harder than ever. I’m more motivated now because I can see a direction on where I want to head in the future.
I’m currently settling in Cambodia for the second month to have more work done. That leaves the idea of getting flights to thailand scrapped for now. I hope to accomplish more productivity within the next few weeks so I can save more funds and travel to other parts of Southeast Asia.
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soloflightEd.com is a travel blog by Edcel Suyo. He enjoys performing headstands and crazy stunts during his trips in the Philippines, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Now based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and working to earn a living, he takes time to enjoy the city and travel during weekends.
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49 thoughts on “7 Lessons from My First Month on the Road”
WAAAAHHH! Kinilig ako sa lesson number 7!!! Hahahaha. Anyway, thanks for this field report. As always, many people who would like to try and take the same path some day would find this really valuable. Sana you won't get tired of sharing your stories with us.
Ganda ng mga lessons Ed! Congrats for lesson #7! 🙂
the most important lesson is number 7 since after all, when one is in love, all the rest can follow. I am happy you are well bai and that your trip now just makes your experiences more worthy to write on.
Keep on sharing us your thoughts on the road.
God bless always
happy for you and what you're doing Edcel! i don't think i'm cut out for a long haul backpacking trip. feeling ko, hanggang one month lang ako. i'm not really sure coz i'm yet to do what you're doing. i'll try it for at least a month here in Europe! 😀
It looks like number 7 will change your plan a bit 🙂
@ihcahieh: hahaha, yung number 7 talaga? thanks for reading this! hope to share more stories pero dapat work mode muna. hehe.
@josiah: thanks Josiah!
@Journeys and Travels: thanks Doc! Continue also to inspire other people! Congrats on your talk pala!
@Catherine: ok lang yang Cath! Kahit baby steps lang muna yung long-term. But anggaling ah, Europe talaga! Congrats on that too!
@Claire: haha, definitely Claire! But no complaints here. 😀
<3 <3 <3 kinikilig ako! 😀 it's been awhile since i've been here and i realized, i missed reading your posts 🙂
grabe, bilib ako sa iyo. you're right, long term backpacking is not for everyone. But I'm excited to read more about your adventures
its not an overdose of spicy food bai. just be careful of what and where you eat.
Paddocks Jeans "Life is What you make It" like a cliche ad slogan but speaks true for everyone hehe. I agree that long-term backpacking is not for everyone. Homesickness will bite you, but like you said if one wants it nothing can stop you from doing it….yes on the number 7. – People will have all sorts of reasons why they travel, from this and that, the list goes on – but the underlying main reason for that is love…coz its the driving force in everything we do. Yeah!!!!
@Smarla: haha, salamat Smarla! tagal ko na ring di nakabisita sa blog mo!
@Estan: yeah, most likely. i just grabbed whatever was on the food counter so that must've been it. also, even if I had a hard time in the bathroom in the morning, I still continued eating spicy foods. padayun gyapon habhab ug halang. hehe. adto na unya Thailand!
@Marky: naks, great words Marky! Too bad I wasn't able to join you guys during your trip to Cebu. But I'm looking forward to your blog posts soon. Thanks!
I hear you Ed. Long term backpacking ain't for everyone. I never really thought I'd be able to do it, but having my family in tow makes it easier… Well not so easy with the baby, but yah know what I mean 🙂
Congrats on your 1st month Ed! 🙂 I agree with number 3.. And when it comes to life changing decisions like long-term backpacking, it is best to know that this is what we really want to do… Hope to see you and Doi again. :)Cheers!
Congratulations on your 1st month! I'm glad to witness some parts of it haha and I agree with everything you mentioned here. Nakaka-miss ang Siem Reap! Ako feeling ko the one that truly works for me is one or two months sa road then uwi muna pero i'd rather stay 1 week or two in a place muna bago mag-move. Super agree ako sa #5 kasi naka-link ako LOL joke pero yep, mas ok to surround yourself with positive people or at least talk to people na mag-motivate sayo to do better. Ang saya kaya magtulungan na umani ng maraming money 😀
And in your case, meron ka pang Honey <3
Mukhang sa next Thailand trip ko raraket na lang ako sa Khao San Road as dancer =))
@gaye: it's really good to have somebody to share the experiences (and expenses!) with. haha. hope to meet you on the road! dito kami sa SR until the 4th ng April. then akyat ng Chiang Mai and then Laos. Most likely babalik kami dito kasi mas mura! hehe
@Bino: Thanks Bino! thanks for inspiring us that this is indeed possible! dapat nga tayong magkita uli and we can exchange ideas. 😀
@Micamyx: Thanks Mica! Thanks for sharing your positive vibrations! (haha). and regarding your raket. woohoo! I'll support you dyan! lakas ng loob at kapal ng mukha lang ang kelangan. Ako rin, gusto kong matutong mag gitara para kumanta rin doon. hehe. pero seryoso talaga Mica, I really think you'll earn well sa ganyang raket mo! 🙂
sharing this ed! ayos ung number 7! mabuhay ka at amping!
Hmmm as of today, hindi ko pa nacoconsider of backpacking, hehe pero bilib ako sa inyo ni te Doi, Flip, Bino and others! Grabe! 😀 And oh, #7 FTWWWW! 😀 Kitakits soon diyan sa SEA!
@journeyingjames: Thanks for sharing James! amping sad sa imo 100 days!
@Renz: Hi Renz! I never thought about backpacking when I was your age either! Can't wait for your own adventures as they evolve in time! Thanks Renz!
Congratulations Ed! Seems like only yesterday when you were planning this great adventure. 3 and 4 are great tips! I'm glad you to chose to include them on your list hehe! Those are perhaps my first 2 tips if I was going to give any (but obviously I'm no authority hehe!). I wish you both never ending luck 😀
With all the reactions, maybe you couldve saved yourself sooo much effort and shouldve just made lesson nyumber 7 the highlight and expounded. LOL
Grats Chococream! mwahmwah! 😀
Id go for Lesson No. 1 still…hahaha Congratz! And good luck to the challenges to come…And oh, Lesson 7 comes after Lesson 1… 😀
What I meant was my first choice is #1 then #7 hahaha :p you're welcome..Keep blogging!
ganda nito ed. been reading this post sa baler palang kami. sana maabutan ko kayo ni doi dyan this year hehehe…good luck ulit
@hiaobuffet: haha, thought so. thanks, magblog ka na rin one of these days! 😀
— OJ, ikaw man diay na! hahahaha. wow, comment comment na jed? hahaha
@Jerome: thanks for reading Jerome! naks, musta naman Baler? pupuntahan ko yan pagbalik ko ng Pinas. hahaha. hope mag-abot nga tayo. 😀
keeping an open-mind and sorrounding yourself with positive people is indeed very important…just enjoy life and keep on exploring and reaching for your dreams…
wow! congrats on the 7th! stay happy! 🙂
hahahaha surprise! :p i'm everywhere baya! 😀
@mervz: thanks mervz! masaya nga!
@hiaobuffet: kakuyaw ba sa imo username. hahaha. kapaspas sad nimo maka comment! haha
Lesson # 1 So True, a lot of time are put to waste when you get sick. Just a slight change of plan can ruin everything. So Right thumb rule especially in SEA, Ask if it is Spicy, pertaining to tongue's out hand wave gesture.
and of course Lesson # 7. It is very comfortable and reassuring if you travel with someone who shares the burden, stress, expenses and love of course. It will not only motivate you but it will put an infinite smile on your face that you can't fake it. 🙂
Enjoy the rest of your SEA trip!
Wow, this is one great eye-opener for me. I thought backpacking was that easy. Thanks for the tips. I've bookmarked it.
@Joey: thanks for the added tip on choosing spicy foods or not, Joey! Hope to meet you two ne of these days!
@Lagalag: Boredom is one of the ways that you need to fight off when backpacking. But yes, you need to learn how to keep yourself busy and how to recover from it; on top of the basic things you need to do when backpacking. Thanks for dropping by!
You're always welcome Eds. Hope to meet you here in Malaysia! 🙂
very insightful post, well noted po!! ^__^
I envy your courage in pursuing your travel adventure. Hindi lahat kayang gawin ang ginawa mo — resigning from your full time job and embark on this different kind of journey.
Nice read and I sure look forward to reading your interesting travel blog posts! 🙂
aaww, love can move people. ♥
apir sa diarrhea in bkk. haha worst pa yung gamot nila ay herbal. napakatagal ng effect.
@Joey: haha, will PM you sir one of these days!
@tabianmuch: thanks for reading!
@rmark: hi rmark! it took me about 2 years to finally take the leap but covering your bases and finding multiple streams of income really helps. Thanks a lot for dropping by my site!
@chyng: haha, thanks chyng. lol ganun talaga, akala mo you're invincible always, di pala noh? at sayang talaga kapag nasa byahe ka nagkasakit.
I just about melted at #7 and the accompanying photo. <3 I'm sure that last photo broke the hearts of lots of girls…and quite a few guys, haha! Very romantic na sana ang post if not for diarrhea as the opening salvo. 😀
Agree with #3. That's why I'm still a tourist. I can't be on the road for a long time. I'm a deeply rooted person, which is ironic for a travel blogger! Usually, after a week or so of traveling, I wanna go home na.
#5 goes without saying. I have a sunny disposition most of the time, so I really hate it when someone rains on my parade. I don't complain too much and I'm majorly zapped of energy when someone I'm with does…all the time.
As for the climax, #7, amen as well. My buko pie (buko pie talaga!) loves to go on road trips so I'm lucky we share that interest. Too bad lang di sha mahilig sa trips abroad. My dream is makasama sha abroad too. So you're a lucky lover. Karay-karay mo ang love of your life…si Doi. Ay mali! 😀
@AJ: hahaha, broken hearts talaga? hahaha. actually AJ, I wrote a longer write-up about it here: http://soloflighted.com/your-suitcase-my-backpack/ hehehe. at natawa naman ako sa Doi, issue ba? hahahaha. anghaba na naman ng comment. hehehe.. I think most travel bloggers have this sunny disposition in life. A friend also mentioned that our group (PTB & Bagets) are really influential when it comes to pursuing our dreams in life. Glad you're back in the blogging scene (I think. hehe). ako, kelanga kaya mag hahiatus? 😀
Oh dear, you'd be breaking more hearts if you went on a hiatus! Joke lang yung kay Doi ha, di naman yun issue. 🙂 Off to work now. I'll check out the link later tonight.
@AJ: bwahahahah, ganun? hahahaha. np. Doi is also laughing at your joke. hehehe.
mapapahamak tayo nang di oras sa joke mo AJ 😆
kasama ka rin ba sa mga magiging heartbroken if ever mag hiatus si ed? *peace* hihihi
Hmmmmmmm this is a great post Edcel!
Hinihintay ko pa rin ang #7 koh! =))
Gusto ko rin ma-experience ang #5, and si Drew ang naalala ko sa #3. Wahehehe.
@doi: ikaw talaga doi. hahaha.
@Robbie: parang plastic ah — lol. thanks rob! naks, basta darating lang talaga yang #7 na yan. hehe. teka. yung #5, di mo pala na-eexperience yan? or yung look-a-like ang gusto mong masurround? anggulo, parang feeling ko, seryoso ka na hindi. hehehe.
Haynako ewan ko sayo Ed! Hahaha. Seriously, maganda yung post. And alam mo naman tungkol dun sa #7 ko. Hahaha.
And yung ibig sabihin ko sa #5 is yung solo lang ako tapos complete strangers ma-meet ko and hindi PTB blogger. Hahaha.
haha. ganun. yep. you'll meet strangers along the way when you go out of your comfort zone. 😀 malapit na rin yan, rob.
yun yun e. hihihi! congrats sa #7 ed. Nakakakilig talaga. Buti at na-appreciate mo pa ang lugar. If I know hind ka sa view naka-tinign. hahaha! Parang tumitigil ang mundo pag may kasamang girlet no? ayiiii!
Wow. wish I could do the same. Good luck on your trips Ed. Congrats on #7. Teeeheee!
hello, I was searching for internet connection details for Siem Reap and came across your site. Fabulous!
We also work location independently and will be heading to Siem Reap in two weeks time… so, what is the internet connection like? And, the place you are staying at, how much is it for AC?
Feel free to either reply on here or via my emai 🙂
@kura: thanks! kahit sa quiapo pa yan. 😀
@Winston: kaya na sya Winston! salamat!
@Tanya: Ey Tanya, internet connection is guesthouses are not as fast as in Bangkok. They run about 1mbps or so. But for the price, it's kinda ok. Depending on the guesthouse, air conditioned rooms are probably about 12 to 15 USD good for two persons per night. You can get ask for a discount if you stay longer. the website is http://villatany.com. PMed you too!