Saturday, December 20, 2014

Let me introduce ... Trisha

I am Trisha Velarmino, born and raised in Subic Bay, Philippines. I started travelling when I was 20 but over a year ago, I decided to finally ditch my job to travel the world full time. Today, I am in South America for almost 20 months now and having the best time of my life. To keep myself on the road, I volunteer in bars and hostels, teach English, work online as a social media manager and do travel coaching to those who want to leave their 9-5 life to travel the world. I keep a travel blog called P.S. I’m On My Way where I encourage women to travel solo, share language learning tips and give inspiration to those who want to leave their daily hell.

  1. What was your inspiration or the event/idea that made you want to travel?
I am a big football fan and I always make sure to see international games whenever I can. A few years back, Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea had their Asian Tour and I stalked them everywhere together with two friends! After which, I got a scholarship and internship in a fashion school in Milan which also allowed to me to travel to Paris and London and study the fashion scene there. I was sent to different cities (by my internship) almost every week and this made me realise that it was very easy to travel in Europe. Though I was very young and it was my first travelling gig on the other side of the world, I had the courage to take trains and book flights on my own to visit other cities like Barcelona, Vienna and Budapest. From then on, I told myself: one, day I am going to travel the world. And I did.
  1. What was your first travel experience?
I think Disneyland is everyone’s first time, always. For my 18th birthday, I asked my mother if I can go to Hong Kong to celebrate instead of having a big party. Surprisingly, she said yes! I was with my siblings and it was my first international travel ever. That was also the first time I knew how passports look like or how they work.
  1. Have you ever felt lonely travelling solo?
Lonely? No. So far, in every country I’ve been to, with what I do, there is always a chance of meeting someone. For example, when I volunteered in a bar in Paracas, Peru, I meet this awesome group who I consider my true friends now. We all travelled together to Bolivia and separated after a few months of thinking in different directions. In January, I will be going back to Peru to celebrate New Year’s with them. I never felt lonely while travelling though there was one instance when I became sick of travelling. It was too overwhelming. There were too many things to do and I didn’t know what to do first.
  1. What was your best travel experience?
South America. I can enumerate a thousand things how this decision of leaving my job to travel here changed me a lot. I complain less, I am more compassionate about life, I find joy in little things, I learned how to cook, I became fluent in Spanish and I gained a lot of friends. I think my way of travelling here was so distinct from the others that I consider this as the best.
5. Is there anything you would have done differently/ any regrets, if you could do it over again?

Nothing. I can’t think of any. Well, here’s one: if I only knew that I can live a life of travel, I would’ve done it when I was younger. Like early 20’s younger. Yes, I’ve been travelling at this age but as a tourist. You know, taking pictures at the Eiffel Tower without even knowing how to speak French, something like that. I changed the way I travel now and I can say that I am 100% culturally immersed.
6. What was your worst travel experience?
Believe it or not, I don’t have any! Everything that comes my way seems to illuminate this positive force so I am always full of love and energy from the Universe!
7. What’s the strangest situation you have found yourself in?
When I volunteered in a hostel in Medellin, Colombia, I didn’t speak much Spanish. One day, I was left in the hostel because everybody had to do their personal errands and we didn’t have much guests so I was okay to be left alone at the reception. After a few minutes, a group of Latin dudes arrived and none of them can speak English so I was doomed. I didn’t understand anything. In the end, they all left and went to another hostel instead of checking in with us. I felt really bad because that could’ve been a great opportunity to have more guests on a low season!
8. Where will you never return to?
I will always return to all the countries I visited. Each of them made me a unique and incredible experience and I am craving for more! Plus, I don’t think you’ll get to know a country if you’ve only been once. The world never runs out of surprises.
9. What advice would you give women traveling solo to your home country?
The Philippines is a beautiful country where the best beaches in the world lay. Though we are not that popular in terms of tourism yet, backpackers are slowly crawling their way in and this makes me really happy! I hope you can visit the beautiful islands of Boracay, Siquijor and Guimaras. My fellowmen are very friendly. Have no fear. You will never find yourself in a situation where nobody around will help you in times of need. Travel the Philippines! It will be one of the best experiences of your life. We have too much to share to the world and you need to know about it.  

10. What are your future travel plans?

Originally, I wanted to go to Central America but after two years, the plans are developing along the way. I don’t know, to be honest. My friends are always telling me that I am a bomb that can explode anytime. I keep changing plans so I don’t want to say anything at the moment. I will live in the present and we’ll see how the ball rolls. I’ll stay longer in South America, that’s for sure!
11. What are your top three tips for women traveling solo?
Go with the flow. You don’t need to be too organized when travelling. Just enjoy and let your feet make the decisions. It’s fun to be careless every once in a while.
Never keep your guard down. You can have fun, yes but don’t be too complacent. Keep your eyes open, be aware of your surroundings and know the people you are dealing with.
Meditate and do yoga. Keep the positive energy coming. They might say that the world is a dangerous place for solo female travellers but I believe that you attract the person that you are. Invite the positive force from the Universe and you’ll be fine.
12. What would you tell women who are looking to travel alone but worry about their safety?
It’s okay to be scared. This is everyone’s worry and it’s normal! It only means you are feeling and living. To be honest, I don’t know. We’ll never know what happens the next minute and yet we keep on going because we have faith. Who know what will happen tomorrow? Nobody. So keep calm and carry on. You’ll be surprised on the things you can do if you go forward. You will overcome those fears.
13. Couchsurfing..what do you think about that?
I do it a lot and I met most of my long-time friends from this platform! It’s not so bad as long as you know how to use it properly. Whoever invented this is a genius!
14. How do you pay for a life of travel?
I do a lot of things to keep myself on the road and I can’t imagine how I can do all these at the same time. In a nutshell, here’s what I do: I work as a social media manager for a US based company which allows me to work anywhere in the world; I teach English to children; I volunteer to get free food and accommodation; I do travel life coaching and sometimes receive donations from readers who love my blog. My blog also earns from advertising and affiliate marketing. It’s too overwhelming to do all of these at the same time but I got used to it!
15.Tell us about the best food you have ever eaten on your travels?
As for food, the best in the world is still in Europe. Asia is slowly competing in the gastronomic scene and I must admit, personally speaking, this is my favorite of them all. However, since I am in South America, I would like to share that the best food I’ve eaten was in Peru -- a traditional dish called papa a la huancaina.
16. What is the most breathtaking view you have ever witnessed on your travels
Two things: The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and the top of the Castle Hill in Budapest where you can see the whole city. These two places literally made my heart jump and I felt it!  17.What do you miss about your home when you go traveling?
I have a very beautiful family and they’re the ones I miss the most. I am very lucky to have a strong community of support when I left my job to travel the world and they’re never tired of pushing and encouraging me to do more! I also miss the food, my mother’s hug, my friends’ laughter, our neighbors loud karaoke sessions, our pets and coffee that uniquely brews only in my parents’ house. 
18. What item will you always carry in your backpack?
My laptop which has been travelling with me for four years now. It is very important for my online job and for maintaining my blog. I also bring my phone all the time because it serves as my camera.
19. Who was the kindest or most generous person you met on your travels, and what did they do?
A guy from the favelas of Brasil. I lost a huge amount of money while travelling there (might be my budget for a month!) and this guy helped me go to the police station, invited me to his home for lunch and introduced me to his loving grandmother. I was warned to never enter the favelas of Brasil because it is very dangerous but I did and nothing happened to me! In fact, I was even offered help!

20.What have you learned from travelling?
A lot of things and I would need another interview section to cover all these. However, the one that marks of great importance is: “if you do what you love, the way will always open.” Since I decided to live like this, my life was nothing but fantastic and positive! 
21. Who inspires you? What other travellers do you look up to?
None in particular but those who live a life of travel inspire me a lot. I don’t think everyone can do that and I put my hats off to these people who are doing it. I also have so much respect and enthusiasm for people who are not travelling yet but are eager to leave everything behind to start a life of travel. For me, this really counts. It’s the first step.

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