Trisha Velarmino is one of those people who gave up their comfortable life to travel the world. Holding a fabulous job in the Fashion Industry after studying Arts Management in Manila and Fashion Communications in Milan, Trisha lived a fairly extravagant life, though it was the realization that she wanted to travel while she was young, fit and able which was behind her decision to leave it all behind.
Born and raised in the Philippines, traveling the world freely is more challenging for Trisha than for most, though if you think the limits on her passport would stop her from exploring the world you would be wrong. The Philippine passport may come with many restrictions, though this incredibly inspiring young woman is on a mission to prove to the world that you can go backpacking and travel full time even if you’re not from the UK, EU, US, AU or Canada.
She is currently working, teaching and volunteering around South America making the most out of the continents 6 visa free countries (for Filipinos), proving to the world as she goes that travel truly is possible, no matter where you come from or which passport you hold.
What do you love the most about travelling?
Learning about a new culture, language and how people on the other side of the world live. These learning experiences inspire me more than your regular tourist spots.
It have a thirst for being in a country where no one knows me, and when traveling I usually pretend to be like one of them. I succeed by immersing myself fully into a new culture and copying their ways. For me, this is the essence of travelling.
What inspired you to start travelling?
Other travelers. When I first went to study abroad in Europe, I met many nomads and backpackers who were travelling long-term. At the time I thought “is that even possible? Can you do that? Isn’t that tiring?” I mean, this means they move from country to country every month! Who does that?!
At first it was crazy hearing about this lifestyle which was so foreign to me, however after listening to someone’s stories for long enough you will think anything is possible, and it was these stories which made me jump into a life of nomadic travel myself.
Today I find myself having done the same for almost two years now — moving from one city to another my own pace, here in Latin America. “This is doable, after all.” I told myself.
What is ‘PS I’m on my way” all about?
Travel and dreams. It’s about a journey of self discovery, about living a life of travel, about finding one’s place in the world.
The blog is not a go-to site for destination guides, but instead an inspiration bible. I write to encourage others who want to achieve this kind of lifestyle, leave their 9-5 job and begin living a life of travel.
I want to spread the message: travelling is not as hard as you think. I want people to realise that it’s not about the money. It’s about the drive to make it happen.
When is the right time to travel the world?
Tomorrow. Next week. You tell me. I don’t buy people’s excuses when it comes to waiting for the “right time” to travel: “I don’t have the money,” “I need to save,” “What if it doesn’t work out?” are some of the examples.
I came here unexpectedly. I experienced a bad break up and had to continue travelling no matter what. At least that’s what I told myself. I kept thinking of what my friends and family would think if I just came back home.
“So you run off with a guy and it turned out to be unsuccessful. What a waste of time.”
I left everything to travel with him and I couldn’t bear what everyone would think if I don’t carry on.
At present, I am free from other people’s negative energies. I have developed a positive routine everyday and travel taught me that. Travel can instigate a lot of positive changes in your life, and as such the right time to travel the world will always be right now.
Your current mission is to visit all visa free countries for Filipinos, what are these countries?
It’s a long list but it’s scattered. For example, in Europe, Filipinos can basically only visit one country without a visa, though South America allows us to travel freely to 6 out of 13 countries, which is why I have chosen to base myself here.
Traveling slowly throughout South America is geographically easier and hassle-free for me.
Is it difficult to obtain a visa as a Filipino for many popular tourist destinations?
Yes. Sadly, the Philippines have a reputation of being “illegal aliens”, particularly in USA and Europe, so travel can be really tough for us.
Applying for visas is a stress I don’t want to deal too much with, hence the thought of being here in South America makes my heart jump. It’s the first time in my life that I can travel freely throughout a huge continent!
How do you afford to travel – are you rich?!
The Universe is limitless, abundant and strangely accommodating. I came to South America with nothing. It was then that I learned how to maintain a blog, transform it into an online business and actually earn money from it.
Traveling full time taught me that I can work online, and it was necessary to make this happen if I wanted to keep traveling. On top of the blog, I am currently working as a social media manager for a US-based company, and have been for over a year now!
I also took my TEFL exam to be able to teach English abroad. In order to get free food and accommodation along the way I volunteer, stay with local families, utilize Couchsurfing, house-sitting and au pairing.
I dabble in a lot of different things to be able to continue to afford my life of travel and keep myself on the road. It’s very different from previous jobs I have held, where I worked in fashion and lived a very extravagant life, though I have no regrets.
Now, I can say I am living the life that truly makes me happy, living freely, with real people, and zero negative thoughts. I am living one day at a time and making it a masterpiece. I am happy.
What is the most interesting way you have earned money abroad?
Tips. I volunteered for a year and I consider it as one of the highlights of my South American trip. I don’t really care when people don’t tip, but my co-volunteers do. They’ve done a lot of creative things just to keep our bowls afloat.
Some dance on the bar, and we dabbled in group choreography every now and then. It was incredibly fun, and I couldn’t believe I earned decent money from this because tips are not popular in my country.
One thing which you don’t like about travelling?
Privacy. I am not that sensitive with personal space but there are times when I just want to shut down from the world and meditate. I haven’t done this in a while because I am always staying in a dormitory or a shared room.
Of course, I don’t have the right to complain. It’s usually for free! Good thing my travel blogging skills help me land a vacation room every once in a while.
I maximise my privacy when given a chance to stay in a complimentary hotel room. I also think this is the best part of my job!
Biggest cultural shock you have experienced while travelling?
I am an English teacher and my students age ranges from 4-12. I am very shocked to know how kids on this side of the world are different. Where I am from, children are very respectful to their elders, and not just to their parents or grandparents, but to older siblings and friends too.
I don’t know if that kind of hierarchy is a good thing, but after travelling for a few years, this is something that I still strongly believe in. For example, in my country, it’s definitely not cool to kiss your boyfriend on the street (I mean torridly), but when I came to Europe and South America, it’s so normal that I got used to it. It was shocking for me at first but I can accept that.
My opinions on particular subjects have changed over time as I have traveled and seen more of the world, though my view on children respecting their elders will always stay the same. I think there is no cultural excuse for this.
Funniest or most embarrassing travel moment?
The first luggage I ever traveled with made me look absolutely ridiculous – carting a 15kg shiny red suitcase around Africa isn’t the most convenient way to travel!
Friends had told me before I left to “bring a backpack”, though I chose not to listen! Two years on I have ditched my original luggage and travel with a backpack which is much more convenient…though it’s still shiny red!
Three things you can’t travel without?
Just three? Can it be five?!!
Okay, three. Hmmmm. Laptop, camera and a watch. ;)
Which destinations are at the top of your bucket list?
Iran, Nepal, Afghanistan and Pakistan. My mom is definitely freaking out by now, but I really want to be involved with different cultures, particularly on the topic of gender and society.
I am not a political kind of girl, though I believe experiencing these cultures will open my already open mind about what’s happening on that side of the globe. Maybe, just maybe, I can make a difference.
I am also looking at Antarctica and Iceland. The Himalayas are also on the list if we’re talking adventure travel.
Most practical piece of advice for those planning travel?
If you do what you love, the way will always open. Opportunities will come when you least expect it.
Being scared is totally normal. I’ve been there. But treat travelling the world the way you first entered college/University — scary and full of uncertainties, but you survived.
The Universe is always generous to those people who do what they love regardless of what other people will think.
Why should people travel?
I honestly don’t think that everyone is interested, and I say this based on the comments I sometimes read from my social media. However, if you are one of those people who are interested in travelling, my solid advice is to do it now.
Your life will change. You will learn different languages, you will diversify your tastes, sample different foods, witness how the other side of the world runs, and you will learn a whole lot more than you ever learnt in school.
Above all, you will be more compassionate about life.