June 16, 2018

How I’ve grown and evolved as a traveler


Here at Preen, we’re fully aware that adult life doesn’t always go as smoothly (and look as beautiful) as curated Instagram feeds. We all face challenges amidst all the good things. Meet Mikka Wee, a former food editor-turned-working gal in Singapore, who’s about to share all the ups and downs that come with adulting and living. Welcome to Bless This Mess

I personally believe that one of the best investments in life is travel. I thought that my immense love for traveling would just be a phase, and that it would dwindle down when I got older, but I was wrong. I remember my first paycheck went to some seat sale tickets to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore back in 2010 (my first trip overseas with friends), yet until now, I still continue to look forward to my next adventure. Each upcoming trip motivates me to do and perform better at work, knowing each day will bring me closer to another adventure. 

Traveling to me is my reward; it is my personal treat to myself for working hard. I guess it’s also my sensitive and nostalgic side that loves to hoard memories in new places where I build new experiences in. I’ve been lucky enough to kick off my wanderlust as a young three-year-old. Until my early twenties, we would often travel to Hong Kong and stay there for quite some time due to family business. It was the only place my parents would allow me to travel to on my own because they knew I was so familiar with the city already. When I started earning my own money, I would really go crazy over seat sales and bus rides to the beach. There was this very alluring idea of being able to escape and go off the radar, even for just a weekend. Of course, traveling is still a means for me to relax, empty my brain, and get my introspective mood on, but I also realized that the reason why traveling is such a joy of mine (and food!) is because of the happy high I get, and how inspired I feel after immersing myself in a different culture.

I will be traveling to Melbourne again this weekend, and it’s funny how I got into a reflective mood one evening. I thought through my “traveling timeline,” and how much my traveling style has changed and evolved in the past few years.

In my teens and my early twenties, my friends used to tease me as the “backpacking queen” because I could literally rough it out anywhere—as in I would dig a hole in the forest soil and do my business to the sound of birds chirping and with the tallest trees as my witness. This also happened after they saw my stash of disposable underwear and my LifeStraw, which I always took with me whenever I went camping or hiking (I would drink from streams and rivers). Gosh, I really miss the Philippines, remembering all these trips I had in the mountains of Bontoc and Ilocos Norte, trekking with my trusty Islanders. When it came to lodging, I didn’t mind bunking with a group of other travelers in a room that could fit 25 people if that meant saving a good few thousand. Sharing a bathroom was also something I didn’t mind. To me, I charged it all to experience. Of course, I never told these stories to my parents while I was at it because I knew they would freak out. And the more money I saved, the more leverage I had to travel. I still consider that season to be the best time of my youth.

However, now that I’m in my late twenties, I feel the need to invest a little bit more on accommodation and airline tickets (especially if it’s a long-haul flight). I’m not really sure if it’s something that comes with age, but what I’ve learned is that traveling in my younger years was driven with a different type of adrenaline and electricity—I was also heavily influenced by Alexander Supertramp, so maybe that explains a part of it. But now, I find it okay to splurge a bit more on a private room with its own bathroom. Maybe my definition of a memorable trip doesn’t have to be on high volume all the time. After feeling all the rush, experiencing the strongest bursts of adrenaline when it came to meeting new people and partying the night away, I find so much joy now in the quiet and in the private comfort of coming home to my own room (and using my own toilet!) after a momentous day.

I felt and realized this so much during a recent trip to Bintan Island with one of my friends, Kaye, during Labor Day weekend. We booked a room in a private beach resort, which we spent 70 percent of our time in. The other 30 percent we spent by the beach or in the pool or eating. And while the beach was incredible, there was a different type of travel magic now, being indoors, getting room service, getting massages, talking for hours, and then basking in each other’s quiet while reading—without having to worry about where to stick my LifeStraw in next. I point out this trip in particular because back in 2013, Kaye and I randomly booked a trip to Thailand (on sale), and we had the best time getting lost in art markets and releasing lanterns in Chiang Mai, partying it up in Bangkok, and getting into the craziest adventure at Pat Pong—literally running for our lives in our tsinelas

I guess, now that I’m older, my travel preferences have grown from choosing experiences that are really crazy and rollercoaster-like, to simpler joys and little things. I’m not really sure if it’s something that comes with age and how my energy flows now that I’m 28, but I don’t want to overthink it. Living on the edge with random motorcycle rides and wind-in-my-hair experiences have been crazy-fun, but now, I’m completely content with a glass of wine with a great view, or getting room service, getting massages, and then basking in the quiet with a good book.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.


Art by Marian Hukom

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Filed Under:

Backpacker, Bless This Mess, culture, Investment, luxury, maturity, Mikka Wee, travel

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