8 Things an OFW Needs to Afford to Travel
When a person is well-traveled, the common connotation is that he/she is rich. While it speaks the truth to some, it isn’t always the case for a traveling OFW. An Overseas Filipino Worker is a Filipino citizen who braves a life abroad to earn a living (not traveling), hence the term.
Because it is the ultimate goal of an OFW to provide a real-life to the loved ones back home – helping a sibling finish from school, building a modest house for a new family, providing financial assistance to parents and so on – becoming rich and traveling are evasive commodities. BUT, not impossible.
Here are eight things that make traveling for OFWs possible. While these may not necessarily apply to everybody, suffice it to say, these worked well for me. Related Article: A Filipino Wanderluster’s Perks of Working in the Middle East
1. Passion for travel.
Being wowed at the travel photos or adventure stories of your friends is not enough. There has to be stubbornly urging deep within you to go out there, take the plunge, and experience the world yourself. That insatiable hunger to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, or to summit the Everest, or to discover the Merry Cemetery, should make you restless the whole day you’re tempted to quit your job. Traveling should mean everything to you.
2. Clear priorities.
While it is a given fact that an OFW has an indelible responsibility of providing financial support to loved ones back home, travel should come next in line. Where your money goes, where your priorities are too and vice-versa. Make it a habit of stashing a budget for traveling expenses (more than the shopping expenses).
3. Minimalism habit.
Minimalism is a habit I just recently learned to love. It is the letting go and foregoing of the unnecessary clutter that does not bring long-term value to my life. Because I am no longer spending much on clothes, things and other perishable stuff, I get to divert those expenses to airfare or hostel fee somewhere. Minimalism is intentionally focusing on things that last and are more meaningful to one’s existence.
4. Saving strategies.
Side by side with minimalism, the practice of scrimping and saving can take you as far as the ends of the earth. Squeezing the budget as tight as you can, giving up and doing away with unwanted buys will allow you to keep some extra amount for rainy days. By rainy days I meant, future travels.
5. Budget travels.
There is no need to book a package tour to pick up the culture of a particular country, nor do you need to eat in an opulent restaurant for you to check out on local cuisine. Staying in a luxurious hotel doesn’t guarantee a memorable holiday nor does a hired taxi allow you to interact with the locals. On the contrary, the best travel memories I have had were generally made possible with the help of people I shared a room within a dorm-type hostel, I sat next to in a bus, I’ve ordered street food from, I’ve hitchhiked with, and those I’ve asked directions from (because I am not on a package tour!). Adventures are not always and need not be expensive.
6. Initial research.
I often storm the internet whenever I plan to visit a new place. I keep watch on airfare and hostel promos, I read articles or blogs and get a hint from people’s stories i.e. the cheapest eatery or the most affordable way to go to this and that. It is always better to be initially equipped with ideas of the things you want to do or see to align your budget with it while being spontaneous at the same time – things will not always work the way you planned it. No fret, your previous research will save you.
7. Unwavering courage.
Outgrow those fears and apprehensions. The world is not at all that worst. Just because you heard or read kidnap stories in the remote areas of the Philippines, you will be abducted too. Not because there is a political uprising in Egypt, your life will be in danger (I went to Tahrir Square during the unrest, and I am still very much alive now). Not because people discouraged you with their unsuccessful travel stories, you will not go out there anymore. Your instinct will most likely keep you safe. Have the courage to listen to it.
8. Flexible Employer.
This one is the last but not the least simply because as OFWs; we are at the mercy of our employers. In Dubai, most of the expatriates are entitled with one month holiday per year. You have now the option to spend the entire 30 days vacationing in your hometown, or you split it and have a side-trip to a nearby place you haven’t been. If that is still not enough, make proper use of the public holidays i.e. Eid Al Adha or Fitr and extend a day or two using your annual leave. Then again, this is hoping your employer does allow you to break your holiday schedules. Also, always start your trip on the weekend to add up your days without deducting it from your annual leave days.
Looking for other articles? Check out our DIY Travel Guides Around the World and City Guides (Awesome Things to do in each Destination). For cheap and luxurious places to stay while traveling, here’s our ultimate list of best hostels and hotels!
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