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Why Working Some More Instead of Traveling Europe Felt Great

Jambaran Beacn, South Kota, Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Tobias Nußbaumer

Last month, I emptied my cabinet of clothes and realized I had a lot of second-hand dresses I haven’t worn yet. Sorting out the clothes—what must stay and what must be given away—was not as easy as I thought. I let my small garden at the back die. I moved empty pots after empty pots. Layers of dust piled up on the shelves of books. Cobwebs started to form in corners. My little place, which used to be neat and orderly, mirrored my mind: chaotic, confused, confusing.

I was in the process of dehoming.

Despite traveling constantly, having my own place to come back to brings comfort. I always think that arriving to your own Point A is as exciting as departing for Point B or Point Y. The truth is: I am more than happy with my life right now. I am not burnt out; I love my daytime, four-days-a-week job. Darn, I am already living the life I want. (Well, the little house by the beach is still in the works). This is my happy Point A.

To travel long-term is to let go of these books. Half of them is not in the frame.

To travel long-term is to let go of these books. Half of them is not in the frame.

But traveling long-term means letting go of Point A. I was not ready to let go of the things I held dear: books, my own garden, and Hip-hip, Carbon, Laag, and Angkla (my cats).

While skyping with T, I burst into tears while telling him about my clothes, funny it may seem. T is going to have his one-year sabbatical leave this December. My teaching contract is going to end this July. I was supposed to visit him in Austria, the earliest in September, the latest November, before starting our one-year trip around the world.

So there is the Schengen visa application to think about, which is the main reason of my anxiety. What if, my visa application would be denied? My online job, as of now, is enough to handle my monthly expenses while traveling. My savings keeps on growing every month: the last time I checked, it is around P150K. But that is not enough as a show-money. And I said, while other travelers have the luxury to say, “don’t think about money” (because some of them are already paid for traveling around or have sponsored trips abroad), I am firm with my words: think about money, go, travel.

My happy, colorful Point A

My happy, colorful Point A

A European friend now living in Cebu said his close friend borrowed P300K from him as a show-money for his Filipina girlfriend’s Schengen visa application. Good for them.

T said he could send me a guarantee letter, which was backed up by his half-Filipino-half-Austrian friend while the three of us had beer in Gili Trawangan (Indonesia). But my pride would not let me accept that. If I wanted to travel to Europe, I wanted to do it on my own. Pride. Arrogance. Self-righteousness. Stubbornness. Call it whatever name you have in my mind. But I want to do it on my own.

When our cluster chair informed me that I still have teaching units for the upcoming semester, I was confused at first and thought about T. But excitement won over. I found a reason to stay, to figure things out. If I extend my contract, it would mean, six more months of not seeing him. When I broke the news to him, he felt sad, of course. He thought our plan was final. It has been in the works since we got into this crazy LDR (the millennials’ code for long distance relationship.) He applied for his sabbatical leave with us in mind.

Tears have been shed. Both have to compromise.

I extended my contract. No treks in autumn. No meeting the family, which I find intimidating. Whew. No looking at the river and our tree across the river while seeping coffee he ground manually. No weekend walks on the woods.

It means another five months of skyping through the Philippines’ crazy Internet connection.

It means reaching P300K by November. It means bidding farewell to my tiny little place. Properly. Building a big bookshelf in my parents’ place or selling the books to writer friends and fellow literature teachers, who are already looking forward to rummaging through my treasure. It means letting the cats settle down in Tuburan.

 I should be writing more than anything else! If you believe in the power of storytelling, fund my coffee. Or a meal! It means less travel-funding articles here and more stories that really matter.

I should be writing more than anything else! If you believe in the power of storytelling, fund my coffee. Or my meal! It means less travel-funding articles here and more stories that really matter.

T asked that maybe I am scared. Damn right. I am scared of letting go of my Point A. Of being denied that fucking Schengen Visa. Of not having enough money to fund the trip. Of possible family emergencies here in the Philippines while I am away. My anxious mind can have a long list of why I am not ready to travel long-term yet. Because most, if not all travelers, will grab such opportunity.

More than anything else, I am scared of the unknown, of giving up everything for the monster called restlessness, of giving up everything for love.

To have a Point A is an assurance, an anchor that I have something to return to. It is my constant in my world of variables.

Jambaran Beacn, South Kota, Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Tobias Nußbaumer

Jimbaran Beacn, South Kota, Bali, Indonesia. Photo by Tobias Nußbaumer

After saying yes to the contract, I felt better and more focused. My mind is not as paranoid as before. My sleeping pattern is back to normal. I am now positive that I can reach my travel fund target before December. If I get denied, so be it, we have a long list of Point B. I won’t be paranoid anymore because I will have enough money in my bank account by then  (not much, for a Western standard).

T and I will be traveling to India and Sri Lanka this July. And after that, I am thinking of traveling to Singapore before heading back to Cebu. I started toiling life to the garden again. I got some vines from my yoga place last week. I brought three varieties of Portulaca grandiflora from Anda, Bohol. Last night, I went to Carbon to buy my weekly supply of vegetables. I put a plant in the little bathroom once again. I have enough time to wear my lovely dresses before giving them away.

I want to leave a place well-lived, with the garden at the back blooming, the little wooden furniture arranged, waiting for its new occupant.

This time around, I do not want to leave my little place desolate, chaotic. I want to leave with the grace, grit, certainty of a woman who decides to seek another definition of a well-lived life.


Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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  1. Jen Morrow says:

    Packing up all your belongs and pets can be difficult. We just moved 3,000 miles and brought our dog with us (he is family). Some things are easier to get rid of than others; clothes, kitchen stuff, furniture, and certain books were easy to say farewell to. At the end of the day, it is about priorities. The rest just sorts itself out.

    • Hi, Jen! If there is someone I have a hard time giving up is Hip-hip, a black cat. I am worried about her. Here in the Philippines, there is a stigma against black cats. Yeah, it is about priorities. Right now, it is my peace of mind. 🙂

  2. Epepa says:

    I know how it is to lost your point A and leave everything behind you. At the beginning I was scared but then I felt… free and excited. Fingers crossed for your journey.

  3. Liana says:

    One thing I’ve learnt along the way, don’t be scared of jumping head first. Maybe, what you seek is on the other shore and the unknown is quite scary, but it could be the best thing ever. Don’t forget, experiences are milestones and they are the little sparks of a life. I’ve learnt this through Jessica Stein of Tuula Vintage, and I’ve experienced it, it’s so true! Good luck. I know how it feels to be money less! x

  4. Sheri says:

    It is all going to work out to be just great. It can be scary, overwhelming, but when one door closes, another one opens. Allow it to open to bring something better. I wish you all the very best.

  5. Tae says:

    Ahhh, this resonates with me so much. I love long term travel but I also love having a base. I’m going through the process of sorting what stays and goes at the moment and it’s definitely an emotional experience. Sounds like you will do well no matter what happens 🙂 Everything is going to be great!

  6. Bernard Tan says:

    I love how u put it across! I always have a problem to let go of it and to travel extensively, have been talking about it so much, that others are tired to hear about it. I am currently still staying with my parents in Singapore, and I remember one thing that my mum said, this place is always going to be a shelter for you after you brave through the storm and been beaten badly, you can still come back and rest before heading out again. Which is super encouraging!

  7. Marteen says:

    I understand how you’re feeling. I’m moving from Ireland to Canada in August on my own and I don’t know anyone there. Although I have a cousin in Edmonton, he’ll be hundreds of miles away from me in Vancouver. I’m leaving my family, my friends and I love that I LOVE behind. It’s my first proper solo adventure and my first time living abroad. I am scared and it’s only natural that I would be but I’ve held myself back for far too long. You have to do what’s right for you and that’s all that matters.

  8. This really resonates with me right now. I love to travel but traveling long-term can be stressful. In addition, my cat has become sick, so now I have to figure out how to pay for that. Sometimes I think it would be easier to travel less, and then I’d never have to worry about money. So good for you for choosing your peace of mind to come first.

  9. Sher says:

    i love how you put this into words. i definitely want to move and live abroad but it’s also really challenging and scary. good for you for choosing piece of mind!


  10. I want to leave with the grace, grit, certainty of a woman who decides to seek another definition of a well-lived life. —- That is exactly what I am thinking! thanks Jona for airing out my thoughts 🙂

  11. Jess Friend says:

    Packing up your home wherever you’re moving to can be quite traumatic. I’ve just moved in to a new place with my fella and packing up all my stuff was quite upsetting, although I was excited to move! There’s definitely a grieving period.

  12. […] Damn, Passport, you and I are lucky, that we have the privilege of having work that offers enough legroom. But it was not pure luck, you know that. From where you were, on top of J M Coetzee and Jose Saramago, you could see me staying up late, typing word after word. While others dreamed waking up traveling abroad, there I was awake and working my ass off with a definite plan in mind: to travel long-term come December. […]

  13. […] a business online. I am more interested in digital nomadism, knowing that by December, I’ll be a full-time digital nomad—a label that is contradicting in so many ways. Before the event, I met my father and older sister […]

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