How did you get to be such an avid traveler?
I retired early at age 47. Thought I’d cross off some destinations in my bucket list while I still have the energy. I even revisited some places I made business trips to, hoping I can enjoy and know these places better in a more leisurely and unhurried mode. Well, the list grew longer the more I traveled, and the travel bug hit me big time. I relished the excitement of planning an adventure while leaving some room for spontaneity, and there is always the thrill of discovering and learning something new even with some repeat trips.
Machu Picchu, Peru
What is your most memorable experience while on one of your travels?
All trips bear many happy memories but because I do a lot of pre-travel reading, there are certain expectations over what to see, what and where to eat, how to spend one’s time. Yet there is no way one can predict how a safari adventure will go. There is no guarantee what safari animals to spot and where/when, nor how these animals will behave at the time you spot them.
Also, our family trip to South Korea to celebrate my 60th birthday holds many good memories. Nothing beats being with your loved ones 24/7 for one memorable week.
Tiger's Nest Monastery, Bhutan
Lake Akan, Hokkaido,, Japan
Camino de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
What are the best travel tips you've learned throughout your adventures?
Travel plans are good for saving money and NOT wasting time, but always leave room for some unplanned, spur-of-the-moment adventure or activity. If some things don’t go according to plan, don’t let it spoil the entire adventure. Changing plans midway isn’t such a bad idea.
Don’t get obsessed with taking the perfect photos. Travels are all about the experience that no camera can capture.
Try setting a “homebase” from where you can do day trips to other places an hour away by train or bus. Don’t be so ambitious to cover as much ground or as many countries. Best to pick a few, settle somewhere “central” (and less touristy) from where you can plan daily excursions.
Be open. Embrace all cultures. Be more adventurous with local food. You’d be amazed how this attitude leads you to self-discovery. Interestingly, I discover more of myself — what I enjoy, tolerate, or dislike — with each travel.
Pack light. Pack for a week, no matter how long your trip is. You can always have your clothes washed.
Be mindful. It can save your wallet or your life. Being organized and alert can spare you of unnecessary stress.
Shrug off some mishaps; they may and can happen. Flight delays, cancellations, illnesses, bad hotels, even accidents. Get travel insurance!
Mount Victoria, Australia
Nuwara Eliya, Sri Lanka
Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska
If you could pick one destination from all the places you've been to, which would you recommend to someone and why?
I’ve done 2 African Safaris and still wishing for a 3rd, but I find it too pricey. So, I’d instead recommend Spain. It’s one country that’s easy to DIY (do it yourself). I love their cuisine, the relaxed pace, the art and culture, the people’s welcoming attitude, the easy way to travel by train or bus, the FREE museum hours, their mercados and iglesias, the diversity from north to south, east to west. I will also recommend that if one has the time and energy, a Camino experience (pilgrimage walk) is worth considering.
San Sebastian, Spain
What's next on your travel bucket list?
My travel schedule is full till year’s end. UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Nagoya (Japan), Bali (Indonesia), New Mexico (USA). But I look forward to travels with my apo when she graduates next year. Unless she backs out, I’m planning my 3rd Camino in 2020 with her. Now, that should be quite an experience!
Photos property of Lili Ramirez