Be A Tourist: How to Travel Cheap

travel quote with photo by Alyssa Martinez

In the Philippines, we have an old saying “Huwag maging turista sa sariling bayan.” In English it translates, don’t be a tourist in your own country. But what we mean by that is know your own country, especially its culture.

I’m a sucker for adventures. I want to explore. I want to see every inch of this world. But for now, I can’t. Physically, financially, realistically, it’s impossible. I’m only 22 years old, I know I’ll be able to see a lot in my lifetime, and I plan on traveling as much as I can, but sometimes, life gets in the way. So whenever I get the opportunity to travel, I take it. But in the meantime I developed a cheap fix for my wanderlust. And this is where my disagreement with our Filipino old saying begins.

People don’t appreciate their place because they think they are familiar with it. They pass the same places everyday since they were kids and it got into their heads that there’s nothing special in it. But what if, one day they just try to look at it differently?

Marcel Proust said, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Observe your surroundings, indulge, and explore. There are Google maps now and millions of apps recommending good places to visit in different parts of the world. You never know, you might be surrounded by places that are curated with cultural and travel-inspired influences. And yet you pass the opportunities to explore them daily.

Whenever I dream of backpacking, I always think of those beautiful places I often see in Pinterest. The James Bond islands in Thailand, the village on top of the mountain in Ronda, Spain and the colorful houses in Italy and so on. I never, even once, thought of my own country. Until I realized we have Palawan that has beautiful underground river and hidden beach inside a mountain. Caves in Cebu that can compete with those famous beach caves in Mexico and even group of small islands in Caramoan that can compete the famous islands in Thailand that was featured in James Bond films.

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San Juan beach La Union, Philippines | alyssa martinez

San Juan beach La Union, Philippines

San Juan Beach: These were some of the photos I took while on a trip to my grandparents’ hometown in La Union Philippines

San Juan beach La Union, Philippines

This is a photo of the dog that can surf, probably better than most of us. Too bad I wasn’t able to shot him in action.

I feel so familiar with my country that I thought there’s nothing special anymore and I was so fixated with those beautiful places abroad that I see in the internet, I forgot to just simply look around. And so I challenge you to do just this. Next time you walk, just try to look around if there’s something you just didn’t tried to see. And if you have a long free time like a vacation, open the internet. Forget Facebook for a while, search for “secret” yet wonderful places in your country. Explore it. Don’t pass it up, and don’t let it pass you. Take that moment to travel and learn. Perhaps, even open your mind and unwind. That is my tip on how to travel cheap.