Meet Aileen, our third featured traveler for the month of January 2015. Just like me and other full time travel bloggers, Aileen decided to make traveling a lifestyle and pursue her passion for adventure. Learn more about Aileen by reading her interesting responses to our travel questionnaire below.
Responsible elephant tourism in Chiang Mai, Thailand
When did you started blogging, Why do you blog?
‘I am Aileen’ was launched in 2008 but it was more like a personal site at that time since I simply treated it as my (public) diary. I loved writing on diaries ever since I was small and after misplacing those ‘books’ for numerous times, I decided that I should have it in a place that won’t get physically lost; and that’s why the website was born.
Over the years, the posts have evolved from teenage angst into lifestyle musings. But in 2014, I relaunched it to focus more on my sudden life changes + traveling lifestyle and it kicked off pretty well!
Other than my initial reason for starting a blog, I continue to do this because it’s how I can document my adventures, it’s a way to share a part of me to the world, it’s one of my passions and of course, it’s very enjoyable! I also love the feedback that I get whenever my stories inspires and informs people that are not only my friends but also strangers from different parts of the world.
Tell me something about yourself / When did you start traveling, inspirations?
Trying out the sport of ‘orienteering’ in the Ardennes
When I was 21 and working for an international investment bank, I hit the sudden realization that a 9-to-5 job was not what I wanted from life. I wanted to escape the rat race and go after my dreams of traveling the world and working for myself. The desire was further fueled when I started meeting backpackers, nomads, and entrepreneurs who were passing through the city of Manila—their stories and adventures across the globe had inspired me so much that I just knew I could do the same if I only abandon my fears!
And so I did.
I prepared for the traveling lifestyle that I wanted and after a few months, I made it happen: I quit my job and started a life of travel! That today, I work as a digital nomad and online entrepreneur as I travel through various countries with my other half, Jonas—he’s actually one of those ‘nomads’ that I met that inspired me to jumpstart my dreams!
Lessons you learned on the road?
Work Mode on the Beach in El Nido, Palawan
Far too many to mention! This is why I love traveling: it constantly offers me lessons and knowledge. It gives me a deeper understanding and appreciation of everyone and everything in this world.
But I guess I can mention one of the lessons that really stood out to me over the years and it’s how travel ultimately teaches people to be open-minded. The way I see it, travel really helps in making someone look past the wrong and bad side of things: it’s like the more people you meet, the more understanding you become of others’ quirks, flaws, and customs. And in my opinion, it’s a great life skill that everyone should learn because I really think that most of the problems in this world are rooted from narrow-mindedness, insensitivity, and prejudices.
Destinations on your Bucket List?
Again: they’re too many especially because I do have that dream of traveling the whole world! 😉
I just started this lifestyle, so I’ve only been to several countries in Asia and Europe. With that, certainly I will prioritize exploring the other countries in these continents, and then later on follow it up with South America, Africa, and so on. (By the way, I’m a fan of the LOTR franchise so you bet New Zealand is at the top of my bucket list. I also grew up in the small island of Batanes in which its beauty is often compared to New Zealand; naturally, I want to see this country for myself!)
Beach or Mountain?
BOTH! Sometimes I would crave for the beach and the sand, but sometimes I won’t because I’ll be craving for a good hike somewhere high up.
How often do you travel by air / land?
Beach Waves in Nacpan Beach, Palawan
It’s hard to say… it really depends, but unlike most travelers, I take things slow. For instance, when I was still starting, my home base was in the Philippines and I did spontaneous trips in between to different parts of the country as well as to foreign lands like Thailand, Malaysia, Belgium, France, and Hong Kong. Those trips had of course involved a mixture of air + land travels; though if I could, I always opt for land travels since it’s not only cheaper but it also gives me the chance to see more of the sceneries ‘up close’.
Now that my partner and I decided to set up our new & temporary home base in Belgium, we always prefer to do trips by land since it’s a lot more fun that way (also because Europe is a big connected continent and Belgium is a part of the Schengen Area where there aren’t any border controls). We actually did a road trip back in 2013 and I loved every second of it! We’re actually planning another one again and this time, we’re eyeing places further to the east!
What’s your favorite airport?
Checking out WWII spots in Normandy, France
I was especially mesmerized by Abu Dhabi’s airport. Then again, I love the airport of Brussels too!
Hmmmm… I guess by now you’ll see how I find it so hard to play favorites!
What is your favorite Hotel?
Due to my travel blog, I’ve partnered up with different hotels in the past (mainly those in the Philippines wherein we can stay for free in exchange for a review) and so far, the one that really made me fall head over heels because of theamazing experience that they gave us was Peacock Garden in Bohol. We felt soooo pampered there: the views were perfect, the food was good, and the staff treated us with a sense of ‘exclusivity’. The rooms weren’t as good actually, it was simple but oh! You should try their spa services; it was the icing to the cake! We had the best massage and experience with their Fontana Aurelia spa!
What is your preferred Airline?
I don’t really have a preferred airline because we always go for the cheapest fair. So far though, I enjoyed flying with Etihad Airways.
How do you beat jet lag / Motion sickness?
Fortunately, I don’t have this problem a lot during my travels. Motion sickness rarely happens to me. As for jet lag, I’ve had it from the long flights from Asia to Europe—that’s for sure! However, I seem to have this insane power of sleeping anywhere and quickly readjusting my body clock so it doesn’t bother me as much. (Of course waking up is a different sleeping problem though.)
In the rare cases that these things happen to me, I just ensure that I have enough water and air (for motion sickness) and I try to tire myself out or keep myself awake to match the country’s time (for jet lag). Otherwise, if you’re traveling far, try to get flights that will time your arrival very well thereby not interfering with your body’s sleeping pattern.
What are your favorite travel gadgets?
Since my career and business are all online, I can never part with my laptop. Other than that, I always bring around my smartphone. I used to have an SLR camera but it’s sooo bulky that’s why I invested on a good phone that can take good shots. However, I am starting to think that I could probably invest again in a good camera that can take sharper shots but without the extra baggage. We’ll see!
Any tips on how to travel light?
Just pack the essentials since you can always wash them at the end of the week. Grab shampoos and toothpastes in small bottles (like the ones you get in hotels) so they don’t add bulk to your luggage.
If you are traveling to a colder country like Europe, don’t pack the heavy jackets or coats. I suggest buying them in the place you’re heading off to. Now I know what you’ll be saying: “It’s going to be expensive!” Yes it will be, BUT only if you don’t know where to buy. There are always thrift stores around that sell jackets and coats in such a cheap price. Once you decide to leave the country, just sell it off again in a second-hand store or better yet, give it to the people on the streets—they will be needing it.
Top 3 Philippine Destinations?
It may be because of bias since I grew up there; but I swear, after seeing several places in the Philippines, Batanes still and always holds the #1 spot for me! (See my post here!) Next would be Palawan and Bohol!
Things you love about the Philippines?
The WHOLE of it. We have our quirks but there are a lot of things to love too! Aside from our dreamy beaches and destinations, one of the things that I also always proclaim with pride to my foreign friends is how we Filipinos are very warm and resilient.
Warm because in all my travels, our level of hospitality and friendliness always outshines the others.
Resilient because despite whatever hardships we go through, we always try to tide it over with a smile on our face.
Things you hate about the Philippines?
There’s corruption, terrorism, etc. but every country almost always experiences these same problems.
So apart from that, what I dislike would probably be the fact that we sometimes have to take gazillions of rides just to get to one place. It’s like a never-ending journey that after 1 airplane ride, “Noooo missy, you’re not there yet!” because you have to take 1 more airplane ride, 1 bus ride, 1 tricycle ride, 1 boat ride, another tricycle again, maybe another boat, aaaaandyou’ve finally reached paradise. Whew!
It’s worth the ‘hassle’ and I also surely enjoy the journey but usually if it goes way over 3 different and long rides, I start to get really weary and tired. (And it tends to get costly too). That’s why my wish for the future is that the routes get polished with let’s say just one airplane and/or one-two buses/boats away. But then again this is just me. It’s not like I totally hate it. I don’t. I just simply hope it get’s a lot more simplified.
In front of a Street Art
What made you decide to visit the Philippines?
Well, I was born there, so… I didn’t really have a choice. Haha!
Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai, Thailand
But I definitely wouldn’t have it any other way!
Top 3 International Destinations?
I don’t feel comfortable giving out a top 3 international destination list if I haven’t had the chance to visit at least more than half of the countries of the world (I’m still working on that,woop, woop!) What I can rather give you is a top 3 list of the international destinations that I would loooove to be in soon!
1st would of course be New Zealand, followed by Japan and Turkey.
Favorite Travel Quote :
“You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of loving and knowing people in more than one place.” – Miriam Adeney
It’s a bittersweet thing but it’s very true; it’s what travel can do to you and it’s not a bad thing at all. I definitely don’t regret this way of life and I’m more than glad to scatter my ‘heart’ everywhere. I love leaving a mark—may it be big or small—with the people that I meet, fleetingly or permanently, because in return, they leave a mark on me too that I’ll forever cherish.