I always feel awkward talking about my personal finances but I know that from a young age, I was trained on how to earn and appreciate money. A lot of people want to travel and I have recently been talking to many people who want to do it long term - their only real worries: A Philippines passport and money. It took me 4 years of working in the Middle East to finally save $5000 (USD) to start my around the world journey, yet most of the people back home assume that when you work abroad you have tons of money but the monthly cost of living, money remittance back to the Philippines and investments definitely take all of your monthly earnings. (Related Article: Career or Travel, Why Not Both?).
I already wrote my personal experiences of getting visas and visiting countries with free visas, so I know that having a Philippines passport does not have to be a hassle if you want to travel long term (here's my Filipino passport visa experiences story). An extra tip - if you plan to travel in Latin America, I highly suggest you apply for a USA tourist visa before you decide to quit your job. It will save you from many visa application fees in Central America and applying for various country visas abroad will be easier for you. (Related Article: Here’s how you can get your Philippines passport)
Now, let's talk about the money part. To be honest, you don’t need much money to begin with - you'll probably spend the most on flights, but if you decide to travel long term and you're coming from the Philippines then you should start it in South East Asia where there are already promo flights! You don't need the same amount of money I had when I started to travel long term, I know some people who started their journey with just $1000 USD (Php 40,000).
Long term travel is completely different from a weekend trip, initial savings is great to start you up but the big issue you have to deal with is how to sustain it and how you can have passive income while moving around without being broke. (Related Article: Sustainable Travel Lifestyle)
Everybody loves to travel but being a Filipino in the Philippines and having a very low minimum wage compared to westerners, here are my 50 tips on how you can travel long term if you only have limited savings.
SAVING MONEY and LIFE ON THE ROAD
1. Volunteer – you can read our different ways to find volunteering opportunities around the world here! You don’t need to pay a lot of money to do this, it actually should help you to save money!
2. Meet relatives or friends abroad– Filipinos are everywhere! When we traveled for 2 days in Singapore, we stayed at my family friends and relative’s house, they showed us around and even cooked meals for us!
3. If you don’t have relatives or friends, join Couchsurfing or different Facebook groups, you might be able to meet fellow travelers who would be willing to host you during your visit! You can join our very own Two Monkeys Travel Forum!
4. Cook your own food – traveling in Asia, you can easily buy $1 to $2 meals but if you will be staying in backpackers hostels, there are free kitchens that you can use to cook meals!
5. Don’t party that much! It’s funny that after I decided to travel long term, I stopped drinking so much compared to my younger years. I don’t want to lose days of my life being hungover and it’s just a big waste of money!
6. Cross the borders by land - take the bus or tuk-tuk. Overnight transportation is great too, it could save you money on a night of accommodation! Here are our border crossing experiences in South America.
7. Try hitchhiking – it will save you money and it’s exciting. If you’ve never tried it before, it’s understandable to think that it’s dangerous, but in reality most people out there are good and you just need to use your common sense. If you're still unsure, then you can try ride sharing, where people with cars advertise the route they'll be driving and try to find travel buddies to join them and share the expenses. It can be a great way to meet cool new people and to travel in a bit of extra style. Check out online resources like rideshareapps.com, which have an unbelievable amount of information on ridesharing companies and transportation providers, with all the current rideshare promotions and offers.
8. Go look for long-term volunteering opportunities – if you would like to work on a farm, check Woofing; if you like hostel work or teaching English, check work away or Helpx
9. Stay in hostels – book a dorm room and share it with other people. You can check the best and cheapest hostels around the world here. (arranged per city/country)
10. Do your own itinerary instead of booking tours from companies! We have some sample DIY itineraries here!
11. Join Local and Expats Facebook groups to know where to eat, where to rent short term apartments and where to find volunteering opportunities! That’s how we do it! Join, observe then ask questions!
12. Be open to meeting friends or fellow backpackers on the road, you could share the cost of a tuk-tuk driver, or have a travel buddy for part of your journey.
13. Always have cash (Dollars) hidden in your bags because some areas don’t have ATM Machines. In my case, I always make sure I have $20 in my pocket and another $100 hidden somewhere in my backpack.
PREPARATION BEFORE TRAVELING
14. Declutter and do a garage sale! Sell most of your belongings to add more to your travel funds – you don’t need many things when you travel long term, up to 2 backpacks is fine! You can choose anything from these backpacks - at least 50 liters!
15. Book a cheap promo flight ticket! Check out the best and different routes to travel to a destination way in advance (Here are our different routes for traveling from Manila to South America)
16. Look for jobs online – start by being a Virtual Assistant working for most online businesses and getting paid an hourly rate. Pay usually starts from $2/hour upwards (Read our guide here on how you can become a VA)
17. Pay all your debts, because otherwise, they will haunt you throughout your trip!
18. Cut down your expenses – stop eating out or drinking expensive coffees!
19. Create a travel fund – a separate savings account or a piggy bank!
20. Talk to your family about your finances. Before quitting my job, I had some obligations for my younger siblings and grandparents, but I told them about this nomadic lifestyle. I was afraid that I would sound selfish after four years of sending money and suddenly planning to focus on myself, but I was happily surprised to find that they were much more supportive than I had expected!
21. Are you into Mutual funds or the Stock market? Might be quite risky but you could invest a tiny portion of your savings!
22. Prepare your documents to show the immigration – sadly it’s true that our country’s Immigration is one of the strictest I’ve encountered in my around the world journey (well, they are just protecting us from trafficking). Long-term backpacking is not yet common for them, so always have a return flight ticket booked, itinerary, bank account statement, tax document or even your previous job documents. If you work online, show the immigration official your online work portfolio with the name of your clients (if you can ask your clients for a letter then that would help you!).
23. Before you quit your job, ask for a company recommendation letter or leave approval letter – you will only need this at the Philippines Immigration.
24. Apply for online banking so you can easily print your statement or access your account anytime.
25. Apply for an extra Prepaid Debit card which you can use booking stuff online.
26. Go to your bank and automate all your payables in the Philippines – mortgage, loans, credit card etc. Here's how I managed my finances with my Philippines Bank account.
You can also read our article here on how you can balance your corporate life, savings, and travel!
VISA APPLICATIONS with Philippines passport
27. Go to VISA FREE countries, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money on visa applications. When I went to Panama, I had to pay $80 for the visa, Nicaragua $55 visa on arrival, etc. (Here are my personal experiences since 2013)
28. If there’s a way you can apply for a USA visa before leaving the country, it would be much better because you’ll be able to get free visas in most Central American countries. Here’s our guide on how to apply for a USA visa.
29. Not all border crossings or immigration abroad require a lot of your documents but always have a photocopy of your passport and a passport size photo.
30. Always have a digital copy of your documents – passport, any valid ID’s like driver’s license, passport size photo, credit card or debit card, etc.
31. Yes, you can apply for visas abroad – I got my six months Indian visa in Hanoi, Vietnam; my UK tourist visa in Bangkok, my USA visa in Bogota, Colombia, Chile Visa in Peru, Panama visa in Costa Rica. It’s not true that we have to return to our home country to get these visas (maybe for Russia!), but you have to show proof why you’re getting it there and not in your home country. I told them that I’m on an around the world journey!
32. Also, please note the country rules for visas! In Peru, you can get up to 183 days on arrival, and you can use it to visit or volunteer, while in Vietnam we could get up to 6 months of Business Visa. Remember, if you decide to work full-time in a certain location, you need to get a WORK visa and pay taxes! This does not apply to working as a digital nomad from your laptop.
33. Make sure that your passport is up to date, I renewed my passport in November 2012 which will expire next year; I started my trip in April 2013! Just perfect for this trip. Here’s how to get or renew your Philippines passport. Please also know that in some countries, we might not have a consulate or Embassy, so you have to fix it before leaving the country.
SUSTAINING TRAVELS - INVEST IN YOUR SKILLS
34. Get a TEFL certificate and teach English while moving around. Yes, we Filipinos could do it!! This could cost you money (between $300 to $500) but this is one of the best long term investments you can have while moving around. Teaching English abroad could let you earn between $7 to $25/ hour! I’ve written a full article here. How to find jobs? Join our TEFL group and we could talk there, we always share new teaching opportunities in the group. (We have an exclusive 40% discount on TEFL course with MYTEFL Canada if you will use the code 2MONKEYS when you're about to pay, from $300 to $170 only.. more details here)
35. Be crafty – you can create bracelets or necklaces and sell them to fellow travelers! Here's a story of a girl who is a full-time artist on the road!
36. Or if you love to paint or draw, why not offer that too?
37. Do you like yoga? Why not become a certified yoga teacher? You can study in Thailand or India cheaply!
38. Do you have talents cutting hair or doing makeup? Why not offer for a cheaper rate to fellow travelers?
39. Do you like cooking your own food? Do pop up cooking events like this Filipina who does different dinners around the USA and South America!
40. You can also do massage therapy, the pay in Asia is not great but you can easily find willing clients as you travel
41. Do you like writing? You might want to start your own Travel Blog, it’s not an easy task but you could benefit from it! Starting a blog is easy, making it successful by earning a full time income there will take time but here’s our guide on how to start a blog to help you out!
42. Do you like partying? Work in hostel bars and become a bartender! You can get free booze and maybe tips every night!
43. Do you like leading tours? You could apply to be a local tour guide! Tours like the Castaway in Ha Long Bay hire travelers to lead their tours!
44. Also, if you work in the reception of each hostel, you could also earn commissions!
45. The best job to have in this NOMADIC lifestyle is anything online where you get paid an hourly rate– Web developer, Virtual Assistant, Medical transcriptionist etc.
SAFETY ON THE ROAD
46. Always inform your family members or friends about where you are. In my case, I just update my Facebook status!
47. I already mentioned above that you need to have Digital copy of your important documents, send a copy of that to your trusted friends or family members in case of emergency.
48. Have back up savings! How much? Enough for you to book a flight ticket back home!
49. Get travel insurance - This could be expensive but since 2013, we’ve been investing in it every year. Travel insurance is not just for you but for your family! You don’t want them to be broke or be in total debt just to send you home with an Air Ambulance if you ever had accident abroad! Knock on wood! (I personally use World Nomads, there are local insurance companies in the Philippines or maybe with your credit card company, you could check there but for me I prefer an International brand to get claims easily.) Also, if you're a Filipina traveler, always be healthy and maintain your hygiene. Here's our tips!
50. ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!
Please note that these tips are intended for Filipinos planning to be long-term travelers and not being an OFW abroad. If you decide to start a career or work abroad, you need the correct working permit and documentation before leaving the Philippines! An important reminder, NEVER OVERSTAY!
If you need more tips on how you could travel long term, you can contact us or book our Travel coaching services here. If you have questions or other tips, please comment below!
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