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I don’t see why anyone wouldn’t be always up for a vacation. Yes, there are just some things that keep holding people back. Then again, everyone has responsibilities, bills to pay and something to save up for. If you simply can’t find anyone to go with you, then it couldn’t be timelier to experience traveling alone and even try staying in youth hostels, preferably in a country where you don’t speak the local tongue. Think of it as challenging yourself, or enjoying while surviving. So unless you’re xenophobic or aerophobic, read on to learn four very practical reasons why you should travel soon, if not NOW.
1. To improve yourself
Wouldn’t you agree that responsibility should be learned at an earlier age the better? There is possibly nothing more effective in teaching oneself to be responsible than traveling. Just about anything travel-related requires utmost attention and preparation: from planning a trip, finding the best deals on hotels and flights, securing the needed visas, making sure everything’s packed to not losing your passport, not missing your flight, and not being scammed by the locals. In the most critical of circumstances, you are left with no choice but to bring out the extrovert and resourcefulness in you to resolve the pickle you’re in.
2. To appreciate what you have (such as being a citizen of a first world country thereby enjoying less restrictions on traveling) and aspire for what don’t have
…which are just some of the many realizations you’ll have when you set out to explore the world and in the process, discover yourself as well. Whether you’re in your mid-twenties or late forties, there are times when we feel as if we’re lost, wandering aimlessly, and that our ambitions seem out of reach. It’s times like these when you just want to get away from your current milieu to reflect on what’s happening in your life – it’s like attending a personal retreat with a customized itinerary. Traveling lets you see another’s way of living, meet new people and leave your comfort zone in order to find out what else you can be capable of. There is something much more significant to bring back home than a souvenir keychain – and that’s a fresh perspective.
3. Because tomorrow is unpredictable
(NOTE: My predictions came true faster than it should have. What used to cost P2,500 for a round trip fare to nearby Asian destinations during Cebu Pacific’s seat sales now costs P4,000. My only regret is not having booked more tickets before.)
For all we know, war or a devastating calamity could break out which could render tourist destinations or even entire regions impassable. (South Korea, for example). As much as fortuitous events do happen, there are two inevitable certainties that deal with travel: age and inflation. Time, once passed, is irretrievable. So why not make today worthwhile? By tomorrow, you would have been a day older, which could mean a day closer to being less ambulatory and less able to handle the strain of adventure. By next year, that great bargain you found on a tour package might no longer exist because of rising costs. As tourism constantly becomes a booming industry, basic economics states that price goes up as demand does. Needless to say, eventually traveling as parents with young children can only be more expensive, among other setbacks.
While you may have agreed with traveling as soon as possible while you are capable, it begs the question: should you first travel domestic or international? While I’ve come across many fellowmen who seem to possess a refutable sense of patriotism by insisting to travel domestic before anywhere else, I can’t help but believe otherwise. For one, there should be nothing to stop you from limitlessly traveling in your own country for an indefinite period of time, while international travel is restricted by maximum duration of stay (depending on your citizenship) and the visa requirements needed to enter a nation in the first place.
In order for Filipinos to visit their closest neighbor these days, the Taiwan embassy in Manila charges USD 50 for tourist visas on top of the requirements needed. Conversely, Taiwan citizens also need a pre-departure visa just to enjoy the beaches of Boracay, Bohol and Palawan. While this setup baffles me, tourists have no choice but to abide by immigration laws. Therefore, for travel plans in the immediate or near future I recommend touring countries in which your citizenship allows you for visa-exempt entry, before taking on those which involve cumbersome (and costly) visa applications which will always have a minimal chance of being denied for reasons unknown.
But if you really have to visit a visa-required country, or just want to fill in an entire page of your passport, here are some notes: Just as travel agencies inform guests that rates may change without prior notice, consulates have the same policy when it comes to visa requirements. Applications of Filipinos for China tourist visas used to require a certificate of no criminal record, but now they have replaced it with a bank certificate which attests that you have had an average daily balance of USD 2500 maintained for the last six months. On the other hand, there are some instances wherein a country suddenly qualifies for another’s visa waiver program, as was the case for Taiwanese citizens traveling to the U.S. beginning October 2012. Fortunately, embassies require fewer documents when you have been previously approved for their respective visas. The bottom line: apply for a visa while you still meet the requirements to increase the chances of being approved for one again in the future. It also helps if you had a number of prior travels to visa-free countries prior to visiting one where you’re not entitled to it.
4. To have no regrets
Regret is one of the most awful feelings because we are aware that there was a chance or time we could have made a different choice and look back today at a more favorable outcome. I don’t think anyone would regret having traveled, unless he or she got into trouble with the law for being caught with mistakenly or purposely possessing contraband. If I were to die tomorrow, I certainly wouldn’t mind because I have partially fulfilled one of my major goals in life – and that is to see the world outside of my own.
If you’re now convinced to file for vacation leaves by next week, or during the next airfare sale, be proud of making that decision. Every penny spent is going to be worth it and you will have more to gain than lose. Should you want to travel regularly or even on a daily basis, you can always apply for a job as a cabin crew member – or enroll in aviation school.