This year, is travel on your agenda?
Adventurer Kach Medina, who quit her steady corporate job for a life of long-term travel, lists the trips she took in her 20s that changed her life:
1. Be a tourist in your own town. We’ve all been in the situation, or perhaps still are, where we’ve lived somewhere for so long that all we see is our own small part of the world, our daily routine that eventually becomes mundane.
The truth, however, is that if we take a moment and open our eyes, there’s always something new all around us.
When you return after some time away, you see everything with fresh eyes; all of the little things that you took for granted before stand out and amaze you all over again.
Before I left the Philippines to live in the Middle East, I visited my parents in my hometown of San Pablo City, Laguna. We visited the famous Seven Lakes and had an incredible buffet lunch at Villa Escudero, a restaurant that’s actually in the waterfalls!
That day was the happiest I’ve ever seen my grandparents. Truly, the best way to learn to appreciate what you have is to leave it behind.
2. The ultimate crazy road trip with your best friends. When you’re young, there’s nothing quite like hitting the road with your friends and driving across the country – even a day trip can feel like an incredible adventure. Not to mention escaping the authority of your parents for a while!
It might just be the next province or the other side of the country – it really doesn’t matter. The important thing is to give yourself that feeling of freedom and exhilaration.
On my last year of university I met up with my best friends from high school and we all went on a road trip to Tagaytay. We stuffed the car with food and had the music up full blast. It’s the little things in life that give you your first feelings of freedom.
3. Your first trip overseas, without any help from your family. If you really want to take that feeling of freedom and independence to the next level, there’s only one thing to do – leave the country!
There’s nothing quite like setting foot on a new land for the first time, knowing that everything you see, touch, hear, taste and smell is going to be completely different.
Whatever your regular lifestyle may be, pack the bare minimum you need to survive and set a target to live on as low a budget as possible. It makes you realize all the pointless things we spend money on every day and teaches you to enjoy the simpler things in life.
I first left the country when I moved to Kuwait, but my first trip without any support from my family was flying to Thailand to start my backpacking adventure.
Landing in a place like Bangkok for the first time – all the crazy sights, noises, smells, people – that culmination of sensations will remain in my memory forever.
4. Go on a spiritual retreat. It is said that true wisdom does not come from books, newspapers or intellectualizing, but from the ability to stop and look inside of ourselves. Only by detaching from all of our external influences can we begin to learn who we truly are. It’s often all we can do to escape to a peaceful, spiritual environment.
The ultimate experience is to stay in an ashram in India for a month to study yoga and meditation, but the point is not so much where you go, but to take the time to relax your mind and body and detach from all of the stresses and pressures of daily life.
My first truly spiritual experience was in a 21-day yoga retreat in Koh Pah Ngan, Thailand. I learned many new things about myself and what I really wanted from life and how to detach from what I don’t really need. Life has had its own kind of flow since then.
5. Give yourself one expensive trip that you will never forget. You don’t have to be rich to enjoy luxury once in a while and neither should you have to be. Although it can be expensive and often out of our budget, I believe that everyone deserves a truly luxurious experience in life.
Go on an Asian cruise or just stay in a 5-star hotel for the weekend. You may say that it’s a waste of money, but I actually believe giving yourself these experiences can give you a renewed appreciation for life and increase your motivation to achieve the kind of life you deserve.
My first true luxury experience was a trip to Dubai after I quit my job in Kuwait. It was a once-in-a-lifetime trip with skydiving, a desert safari, Ferrari World and a room in the Atlantis Hotel. Although I probably wouldn’t spend that much money on those kinds of luxuries again, I wouldn’t trade the feeling for anything!
6. Travel with your family. Travel is as much about the people you’re with and the people you meet on the way, as much as your own personal experiences. It’s about sharing moments, feelings and memories that connect you to other people forever.
It’s cool to travel with your friends but the people who know you the best are your family.
When I traveled with my brother and sister through Thailand, across Laos and into Hanoi, I hadn’t seen them in two years, which made it even more special. Being the eldest child, it was beautiful to see them both in situations that put them out of their comfort zones, meeting people from all over the world for the first time. We all had an amazing journey and it definitely brought us closer together.
7. Party. Go somewhere no one knows you, cut loose, shave your head, buy some fluorescent yellow pants and cover yourself in body paint. Sometimes when we’re feeling a bit down, all we really need is a serious party. Sure, life can be serious, but that doesn’t mean you have to be!
I’m not saying do it forever, but while you’re still young, give yourself the chance to party like you haven’t got a care in the world.
My best ever party time was living on Koh Pha Ngan and spending a week partying, with the finale being the Full Moon Party. It was incredible. I met so many different people, danced all night on a beach under the stars and did yoga on a cliff at sunrise.
8. Go on a food trip. It seems like we’re constantly surrounded by no-fat this and low-carb that, posters of overly skinny girls and excessively muscular men, all of which have an impact on our relationship with food. Well, you can take a holiday from all that too, with a journey of wonderful delicacies.
Go to Hanoi and try all the pho, banh mi and bia hoi you can find. Sample all the pad thai and Thai green curry Thailand has to offer. Grab your elastic waistband trousers and get eating!
When I was traveling around Southeast Asia the best food I could find (and afford) was the street food and I ate as much of it as I could. I may gained a few kilos, but I had a great time doing it.
9. Go on a romantic getaway with that special someone. Walks on white sand beaches, ice-cold wine in the Jacuzzi and beautiful sunsets are romantic images that we’re all familiar with and there’s no greater feeling than realizing that you’re actually in one of those pictures.
My boyfriend Jon and I went on a week-long holiday to the Maldives. It’s been my dream since I was young to swim in the crystal clear water, relax on the perfect beaches and watch the sun set. It was more beautiful than I had ever imagined, but what really made it exceed my childhood dreams was being there with someone special.
Kach Medina is a proud Filipina who quit her corporate job to become a long-term backpacker. She’s also a travel writer behind twomonkeystravelgroup.com. She loves beautiful beaches, electronic music, yoga, mayonnaise, Nutella and haggling! Follow her at facebook.com/twomonkeystravel
This story was first published in Rappler.com, a Manila-based social news network where stories inspire community engagement and digitally fuelled actions for social change.