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Common Travel Sins

Monday, December 19, 2011Ryan Mach

Backpacking is a dream that a lot of people want to indulge yet only few actually act on. (I've travelled to several places around the country this year, so yehey, I can call myself a backpacker!) We backpackers are among the few who choose to embrace life and see the world from different perspective (I'm taking this literally) - and that's an amazing step. We get to see things we've never seen before, experience culture we never knew existed and eat food that are too weird for our taste. And the best part is, we come home with tons of pasalubong and memories that we can forever cherish (yikes, that sounds mushy!). Seriously though, travelling helps us get a better understanding of the world.

Having a unique and adventure-filled trip is what we ultimately want at the end of the day. So it's essential that we stay away from backpacker blunders that can rob us of the unique experience we're looking for. We call them travel sins - travel mistakes that can somehow ruin our travel experience. 

Let me pretend like I have all figured it out and share some of the blunders I know and are guilty of.   

1. Choosing Fastfood Restos Over Local Cuisines

During my Bacolod trip, I asked my travel buddy to buy a cup of Sundae at McDonald's along Lacson Avenue. The reaction I got was worse than getting scolded by an adult. "You travelled all the way to Bacolod just to eat Sundae at McDonald's?!!?"  Whoa, easy buddy, I don't mean any harm. I just want to eat Sundae at McDonald's. Sheesh, is that a sin already?

McDo, seriously?
In the backpackers' world, yes it is. But my retort was rather compelling (I thought it was anyway) - you don't get to eat at McDonald's Bacolod everyday, do you? And with that argument, we ended up having one cup of Sundae each at McDonald's.

But really, eating at fastfood restos like Jollibee or McDonald's when you're on the road is a bit lame. You can do that in Manila. So in my next trips, I made sure that I stay away from those fastfood chains (they're all over the country!) and try the local restaurants instead. Still the no-fastfood rule can be broken sometimes. That's inevitable. Cebu trip - guilty. CDO trip - guilty.

2. Sticking to Tourist Attractions

This is easily the biggest travel mistake that a backpacker can commit. Going 'mainstream' is not necessarily a bad thing but you risk making your experience sort of boxed in. Just because everyone has gone there doesn't mean you also have to. While these places can be fun and they offer a taste of a place that you can call unique, there are various attractions around that you can discover. 

Hey, I'm not saying no to experiencing famous activities/attractions of a certain place - water-rafting in Cagayan de Oro, eating Lechon in Cebu, visiting the Sunken Cemetery in Camiguin, surfing in La Union. They're all fun. But for backpackers who maintain a travel blog, such are a cliche. You can make a mark in the travel blog universe by introducing a place that no one has gone before. 

3. Expecting everyone in the province to speak Tagalog

Filipino or Tagalog is a language born out of too much politics. This item is really self-explanatory.

4. Scheduling trip on rainy months

CDO-bound on a rainy afternoon
Every Filipino knows that there are only two seasons in the country. When it rains, it really pours hard. I almost backed out from our CDO trip last August because of the imminent typhoon (which caused massive destruction in some parts of Luzon). My flight was scheduled in the afternoon and the earlier part of the day was promising - sun's up, no rain. But came boarding time, the sky turned gloomy and rainshower began to tall. The flight was full of bumps and I considered it the worst to date. 

CDO and Camiguin weren't affected by the typhoon though. Still, I have learned a valuable lesson - I'll try not to schedule trips during the typhoon months. But then again, typhoons are a typical occurence in the country so you really never know the best month to schedule your trip.

I'm sure there are other travel taboos but these are the ones I can think of. Care to share yours?

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