Young, fresh and well prepared; Trisha Velarmino is taking over the world with her travel blog. A truly Philippine at heart, she’s having the time of her life in South America these days. Enjoy our last On The Road interview !
- Tell us a bit about yourself and how you started to travel. Do you remember your 1st travel experience? Why are you passionate about traveling?
I grew up in an expat community and my first lessons about culture is from that city (Subic). My step-father is a dutch who lived in China, Morocco, etc. and his stories amazed me. Roughly three years ago, I was sent to Milan to study fashion and was very fortunate to be selected as one of the interns for Roberto Cavalli. This was the trigger to the birth of my start-up, Fashion Intern PH. I was personally working for Roberto’s son, Daniele who is also very cultured but humble about his knowledge of the world. I kept a fashion blog then but I noticed I never wrote anything about Fashion Week in Milan and Paris. The fashion blog slowly transformed into a travel journal. Another event that started my interest in traveling was stalking European Football Clubs. About 2 years ago, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea had an Asian Tour but didn’t come to the Philippines. Me and my friends bravely booked an expensive ticket, a cheap hotel and trimmed our food budget to last moving around Malaysia for 12 days. Today, no matter how much the Brazilians want to get out of here on June 2014, the idea of going to the World Cup still sets me on fire. I dream about it everyday for four years and now it’s coming to life. Football will always remind me about traveling.
- Now that we know where do you come from… could you tell us where are you heading to? Which are your plans for the future in terms of traveling?
A lot! Now that I have established working remotely, I feel like I can do things in my own time and decide where to go next. At present, my fate calls for South America. It’s the right direction because I need not apply a visa here (at least for most countries). After the World Cup, I want to crawl to Central America! Mexico, Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, these places are constantly in my head! If I get lucky with the visa, I might cross to the North, drive to Canada, fly to New Zealand & Australia. Since AU is close to home, I would want to go back for a few months to write a book and regain my strength by being with my family. From there, I will plan my escapade to Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and so on. We’ll never know, really! I honestly don’t plan. For me, whatever fits, works.
- What do you think of traveling with a purpose or meaning in mind? What do you look for when traveling long-term?
It’s just my 6th month traveling long-term and I feel like the lessons I’ve learned here equal to 6 years of studying in school.
The purpose? Nothing I had in mind. However, I was surprised when it just comes. I learned how to enjoy being with myself and feeling the present time. I woke up hearing the birds chirp on my window and I was fully aware of everything around me. Whether you’re a plant, a plastic bag, a towel on the floor, I see you. I felt like a superhero that can feel anything! I was free from the past and the pressure of what to have in the future. I grew up in a society where you have to prove yourself all the time with achievements in school, what type of job do you have, what family background you came from etc. It was a race! I was racing to be perfect because everyone is conditioned to think that happiness is measured by success. If I didn’t decide to leave home and explore the world, I would probably stick to the same ideology. Best of all, I have accepted my true and genuine self. I didn’t have to worry about wearing the same thing everyday (you can’t really do this when you work in fashion). I craved less. My life is very simple.
- How do you fund your travels? Have you found a job or income source that allows you to be on the road fulltime? Tell us what you do for a living.
Yes and it’s way too far from fashion. I am a social media manager for a company specialising on the use of hashtags in today’s internet era. I used to think fashion was the only thing I could do for a living but once you get out there and make it happen, you can do any type of job! I am self-taught when it comes to social media, HTML, and anything related to internet. In fact, I personally designed my blog! I also have freelance projects like writing content for companies, making video projects and of course, my blog. My travel journal now turned into a source of income when I didn’t ask for it.
- Did your job, studies, volunteering experiences or other projects help you to travel the world? Where have you been thanks to those? If so, tell us a bit about those experiences.
I cannot see that yet but I think vigilance is what I got from my job, studies and volunteering experiences. I was also taught to respect other people’s time but some time between October and November, I failed in that department. I committed to a volunteer work in Rio de Janeiro but I had to call it off. There was a little problem with my passport and I had to take shots (flu, yellow fever, etc) in São Paulo to be able to go around South America. My supposed-to-be host was furious and I deeply apologised for what happened. (Please, if you are reading this, forgive me!)
- What would you recommend to someone who wants to follow your steps? Which kind of training or studies is necessary? Would an investment be needed in the first place? Please, give 3 pieces of advice (you wish to have known before starting) of what to do and what to avoid to succeed.
Make your heart more powerful than your mind. Don’t let it take over your life. On the list, I think courage is above the monetary investment. When fear is present, you can never remove your buts, ifs and whats. There will always be an excuse. Do not pressure yourself about time, about what will happen in the future. Go and be hungry, sleep on the streets if you need to, meet new friends, get high, laugh, hitch hike when you’re out of cash. The most important thing is being there. Feel the moment — the wind touching your face, the sound of fast cars, the butterflies in your stomach when the plane lands, FEEL IT.
- What does a perfect day in your life looks like? Do you follow any particular routine?
I am not the touristy type because I am here to live, eat and cook like the locals. In the morning, I do some yoga when I wake up. After that, I work for 4 hours, cook lunch, talk to friends, etc. In the middle of the day, I always find time to embrace the goodness of the Universe by meditating for 30mins. I am totally normal here! I also do what everyone does back home. The only difference is that, I met a lot of friends, I learned different languages and I am where I want to be when I want to. Weekends are always fun. I always drive to another city with my friends. We would cook local food and spend the whole weekend eating. Yes, I have close friends in every country that I visited and that’s the beauty of it. These people are not just acquaintances because I have shared my life with them. They know me inside and out, just as I was back home. However, what I am now is the better version of me, and that is because of the lessons I learned on the road. It changed me a lot. This also allowed me to eat, talk and cook like a local. I hadn’t realized how possible it is to meet long time friends on the road and that idea still amazed me.
- Where do you come from originally and where you call home now? Can you give us some local tips we cannot find in a guidebook but you highly recommend about your hometown?
Subic is my home. I will always choose to live in the Philippines. The Filipinos are the kindest, warmest, friendliest and the most awesome people I know. It’s not even a month since we experienced the strongest typhoon ever recorded in world history but we are already coping. Everyone’s coming together to help the country rise above and live again. In the city where I grew up, we are surrounded by nature. There are plenty of beaches that you will enjoy, whales that you can swim with or adventure treks that you can challenge yourself with. I literally grew up with monkeys because our house is by the forest! At present, the government wants to put up a coal plant in the city and my parents are spearheading the movement of abolishing the act. I hope we win. Love always wins.
- Do you read, write, draw, listen to music, sing, watch movies or do something else while traveling? How do you interact with technology these days and which gadgets you definitely take with you everywhere? What is your favorite book? And movie?
Since I am working remote, I make sure that I have my laptop. My iPhone recently gave up and I haven’t bought a replacement for it (for saving purposes). Living without a phone is another sign that my life is really simple! However, I have an iPad where I store a lot of e-books! My current favorite is “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle. This book made me realise that I should be present in the now and be aware of everything that is happening around me. Since I am preparing to volunteer in teaching Peruvian and Ecuador girls, I recently finished reading Malala Youzafzai’s “My Name is Malala” where she talks about the status quo of girls not being allowed to go to school in Pakistan. I am not really a movie fan but I watch series like Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, Mad Men and totally hooked with Breaking Bad. The roots of my music are indie. I have compiled a list here. Give it a try! You will love it, I promise!
- Do you keep a bucket list? Which are your craziest dreams? Where are your favorite destinations on earth?
I used to but now, anything goes! Whatever comes my way, I will gladly take it. I am looking at myself camping in Patagonia, going to Machu Picchu, cruising the Caribbean, working at my office in San Blas Island, reading a book by the beach in Varadero and eating fire in Mexico! I love spicy food and I want to know if what they say about Mexican food is for real. Since there is not much internet connection in Havana, I am also wishing for a paid leave when I visit Cuba. Lastly, I want to write about the World Cup — hear the screams of the football fans, watch each team parade to the stadium and see people crying while singing each team’s anthem. It’s a 4-year dream for me to witness these things first hand. One thing that I can label crazy is hitch hiking in Antarctica. Even if I am traveling for a long time now, I have not really adapted to the cold weather. Imagine, at this time of the year, I find São Paulo a cold city!
Thank you very much for your inspiring words, Trisha and good luck in your future travels! We are sure you’ll continue having a blast!