How to Make the Most out of Your Travels
A guide for those who want to learn, help and meet the world through people while traveling
By Kritzia Santos
Travelling has become one of the most exciting things to do of the young, the old, and everyone else in between.
The young always have the luxury of their parents bringing them to the most awe inspiring places. Most live by the phrase, WORK. EARN. TRAVEL. REPEAT. And the older basically, celebrate their successes and challenges by travelling around the most beautiful places in the world.
Through this write-up, I would like to provide a different perspective to travellers out there to get the most of out of the travel experience.
In 2011, I started to learn a lot from my travels most especially through the people I come across with. For me, the best part of travelling is when you get to learn and bring it home to utilize and make the most of. When travelling, I look for opportunities I can be part of, such as world conferences, or seminars I can attend. It may not sound as fun but believe me, meeting people from all over the world in just a week is like meeting their countries’ culture and behavior through their stories. The first step starts with searching for conferences to participate in that is closest to what you really like doing. Through these, the adventure becomes deeper.
Gaining the best of friends from the experience
LOOKING FOR OPPORTUNITIES
1.Look for opportunities/organizations
My background is community development/social work – so I look for conferences that are geared towards that. There are sites that have all the conferences listed in the world and where it will be held. You can log on to these conferences for the initial: http://www.worldconferencecalendar.com/ or http://www.allconferences.com/. Sometimes, you can also just google conferences in the country you will be visiting on that certain month.
Another option would be if there are world events that you already know about and that you would want to be a part of, write them and ask if they would need an extra hand.
2.Keep your eyes open for opportunities on scholarship
Be on the look out for organizations around the world that offer scholarships. Follow websites or social media pages that continuously offer these kinds of travels.
If there are no scholarship slots, try to email relevant contact persons and write about your goals and current realities.
For every travel, make sure that you have all necessary travel documents. For the volunteer activities itself, prepare all your materials beforehand. This includes all visuals and written paraphernalia. Don’t forget to ask for advice from organizers what possible tasks you can handle so you are prepared and you get to interact with them at an early stage.
This year, I had the chance to represent the Philippines at the FICE World Congress in Vienna, Austria with 700 social and youth workers from around the world. In one week, I got to experience learning from same like minded people. I learned most from other people’s experiences back home making me realize that despite all the differences, whether social or political, the plight of care is similar. Everyone has the same heart that yearns for social development.
At the FICE conference with other volunteers and social workers from different countries represented
One of my favorite memories was when I was sharing my organization (Tulong Sa Kapwa Kapatid) to someone from Canada and he was so surprised with the grass rootedness of our program. He said “this might have been one of the best things I’ve heard from this week.” That filled my heart, that even if what we may be doing maybe small things in the whole development field, our stories can still inspire others.
In attending these conferences, my favorite task is also being able to share about the Philippines, the uniqueness of our people and the little stories in our country :).
From the volunteer/conference work, you get to spend more time with the locals that are there, and with that you even get free tour guides with the most knowledge to go around their city and find the ‘how locals do it’. From the time together, you also get to learn more about their cultures and practices first hand. This opens you up to the world in many more ways than one. In the past, a lot of volunteers come from different countries. It was a privilege to meet a lot of new people and become friends with them.
You even get to make friends with people who do not speak the same language as you but you realize that the kindness is always there.
Travelling may become a little costly along the way, but with letters and requests sent out, you may even get your food and accommodation for free for the services that you do. With the most recent one, I got to have accommodation and food covered for a week in Vienna by being a staff in the conference. Back in 2011 during World Youth Day, I was provided with food and accommodation. These were added luxuries already as the best part of it all was learning from the process and having the chance to meet and learn from people all over the world.
The airline ticket may not be free most of the time but I can assure you half of the expenses would be covered. We all have pretty much learned the art of getting the cheapest tickets and sales on discount so we can work with that for the tickets.
You never know, what experience or additional adventure will come from the volunteer work or conferences you attend. Last 2011, I got the surprise of my life from the three months of volunteer work that I was doing for the world youth day in the international volunteers section, I was chosen to be the representative of Asia to ask the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI a question during the vigil with the Pope. This was really a one of a kind experience.
I hope you learned a little additional thing or two of travelling that you never really thought about before — learning as you travel and meet the world through people.
As Ghandi says, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”