One common question people ask travelers is this: What is the best place you’ve visited? Time and again, I would always give people an “it-depends” answer, because it really depends. We cannot compare each destination from another, because each has its own pros and cons, good things and bad, and the what haves and have nots.
The question we don’t normally encounter is this? What is the best journey you’ve ever had? Sometimes we dont care about focusing on the journey part of our travels.
photo by mikebaird
And so let me enumerate the trips I remember and call it must have travel experiences. Here we go:
1. The First Airplane Ride – When you’re a frequent flier, takeoffs, landings, and turbulence doesnt excite or bother you much as the first time. If you haven’t ridden a plane, more so those with propellers and not those fancy jet engines, then its time for you to do so. I remember my first plane ride was back in 2003, yes, I was already in my 20′s before I ever rode a plane. The thrill of takeoff has always captivated my excitement, as the rush fills up the air inside me. Landings are so so, but it gets better when its a windy day, and the airport happens to be right beside the sea so it looks like you’re landing on water.
What you can do: Call your local airline and ask which destinations fly using the ATR. For best experience, get the cheapest flight where it is rumored that you fly as an Asian and land as spirit. If you’re in the Philippines, take a Boracay flight as the runway is short. Don’t worry folks, its safe, and Filipino pilots are the best. Its just that the runway is really short the last time I was in Boracay, i nearly fainted during takeoff because of the steep climb, not to mention the plane I rode was empty and the pilots wanted to do a 360. (it was a special flight folks so it wont happen to you)
2. The First Solo Trip – Traveling alone is one of the best experiences one can ever have. At first it has been a challenge for me. I cant even remember the first time I traveled alone but when the bug hit me, it went on. That is about to change though, but I’m happy I experienced traveling alone.
The what if’s always come to play here – on your own knowing no one, or not feeling “too safe”. Feeling safe and being safe are two totally different things, but the trade off of not traveling alone and traveling alone will always be there.
When you travel alone, you’re bound to be creative in what you do. You are forced to mingle. That in itself is a treat.
Ive met friends around the world because of traveling alone.
What you can do: What else?! Book a trip somewhere unfamiliar, somewhere you haven’t been to before. The more rustic the better. Make sure to do your research though, you dont want to end up in a cannibal tribe.. or would you? For better results, choose a place that do not use a language that you use. You can also try couchsurfing too.
3. Trekking with a lot of rain- if going up hill is fun, most especially with an expectation of wooing views that take your breath away when you reach the top, or crystal clear waters a-la blue lagoon with gigantic waterfalls that makes one stare with wonder, what more doing it with a little extra challenge, rainfall and wind. Ive probably done this a couple of times, one was a spelunking trip and the other a hike up a rocky peak using only my flipflops. Yes i am crazy,but its fun.
What you can do: Search for a hike and do it during the rainy season, just ask if its safe before you go first. Some, volcano creater trek like our very own Mt. Pinatubo trail are off limits at times.
4. Boat ride amidst raging waters - im not talking about taking one of those ferry boats. I’m talking about those little ones that cant sit more than 50. Ive probably had the chance.
What you can do: If youre in the Philippines.. boat trip to Puerto Galera, Sabtang Island in Batanes, or Palaui Island in Cagayan.. as for the timing, i’m not suggesting to really do it during a storm since the Coast guard will probably wont let you, unless you have a stubbon boatman.
5. Long Hour Non-Airconditioned Bus Rides – Im ok with bus rides, but non-airconditioned ones? Uh, that’s a bit of a challenge specially with the humidity, dust, and heat. Im not suggesting riding those along the highway. Its those rustic ones with a lot of character in the province, those mini buses going to place hidden in the mountains, or down the beach. Two things it does – changes your perspective of things as it takes away the comfort but the beauty of details inspires you, and it increases your opportunity for beautiful photos.
What you can do: If you’re in the Philippines, try arranging for a Sagada trip. It takes around 7 hours or so and the heat of the sun is also a challenge. Other developing Asian countries will have this option too.
6. Hitch Hiking – Maybe an option id like to explore more often, Having to ride with a stranger will be a breakthrough for a lot of people. More often than not, its quite safe. The risk of getting picked up by a serial killer is slim where I live. The first time I tried this is with friends on board a water truck. We ended up on the truck because we were told to just walk up the road for 15 minutes to get to where we wanted to go, 2 hours of walking later, we were still far off so we ended up on a truck as it rained all of a sudden.
What you can do: Travel with a bud or travel alone to a road less traveled. Ride on those slow rides like those pulled by cows or a vegetable truck carrying veggies or old folks. To get more used to it, get off after 15 minutes and get on another. haha!
7. The Media Tour – whats more fun than a bus load of media people on a media tour? Not just for the freebies, but do you know that you learn a lot from your fellow journalists along the way. You’ll see traveling habits of people working about travel. The best part is the friendship that happens in between.
What you can do: Start working on a blog or get into writing or photography and try getting into publications, then volunteer to join.
A note of caution though – do all these at your own risk. When the rush is higher, the risk is greater. But theres a way to make keep things safe still so dont do things mindlessly. It takes a little preparation and gut feel
This is my official entry to the PTB’s Blog Carnival for December 2011 entitled: The Journey is the Destination, hosted by Kara Santos of Travel Up.