travel & lifestyle blog by ruth dela cruz


5 Real Ways I Got to Travel

August 13, 2018
5 Real Ways I Got to Travel Nearly FREE
To travel and see the world.
That was my simple goal years ago.  I was in my 20s then.

I meet people and receive messages asking how to become an “influencer” and “travel for free”. Here’s the good news, before I even got invited to travel because of my blog, I found different ways to see the world. 

I am the type of person who is always living the “now” life. My friends or my colleagues were probably building their career and putting up a business (or thinking of their dream weddings) at that age. I had my simple goal. 
Today, it seems that teens and millennials’s main goal is to be a “social media influencer” to travel and to live the same life that we see everyday in beautiful filtered photos.

5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
I want to tell you that you can travel too without leaving your job or being “somebody” in social media. I think that when you really want something and you work hard for it, the forces of universe will listen and conspire to make it happen. 
Sharing with you ways how I got to travel (for FREE) and how you can do it too!
1. Save. Save Money. Save Your Vacation Leave. 
If there is anything that I miss about my normal office job is my monthly salary – it is because I get to automatically save a portion of that for my savings. That is how I pay myself first. 
I save money every month for travel and emergencies. Aside from saving money, you should also save your Vacation Leaves. I would advise taking your leaves for a whole week of vacation. I took my first vacation leave after one year in the job.  It was during those days that budget airlines were only introducing Piso Fare promos. My friend was always quick at booking flights. 
5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
Here’s a photo of me from my blog in 2012! 

The Best Parts: You get to get time off from work but still have job security. 
The Challenges: You need to catch up on work and backlogs after the vacation – but that motivates you to work harder so you can travel again soon. 
Allowance: Whatever you are willing to spend from your savings!
Pro Tip: Be very good at your job and build relationship with your colleagues. 

2. Join Global Leadership Program of Your Company

If you are currently employed in a corporate brand, check your company’s CSR and Leadership Programs. 
On my third year with IBM, I saw a poster displayed in the lobby of our office building featuring my second line manager. In the photo, he’s teaching kids in Tanzania. He is an alum of IBM Corporate Service Corp. A global leadership program wherein the best employees are sent to different parts of the world to team up with eight to 15 members and partner with government, business and civic leaders in emerging markets to address high-priority issues such as education, health and economic development. I told myself I would do the same. 
When the program opened its application for 2012, I applied. The program has a very strict criteria.  I got my support from my manager who confirmed my application. 
5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
Final Presentation with my Partner from the US – Cheryl
I was over the moon when I received an email about my acceptance (I was actually on shortlist for upcoming assignments). I received my first invitation from the Program Manager asking me to join the assignment in China. I had to decline at that time because of another personal trip that was scheduled (also in China). The second invitation was for Indonesia – I had to say YES and that’s when the journey started. I stayed for one month in Makassar, Indonesia with 9 other IBMers from different parts of the globe. It is one of the experiences that I would never get tired of sharing.
After my IBM Corporate Service Corp assignment, I remained active in the program. I was invited to be one of the Facilitators and Mentors. I also took part in the review process for the new applications. 
5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
Our team during the Anti-Bullying Seminar in Indonesia

During my assignment, we got to visit places in Makassar and Tana Toraja.

The Best Parts: You get to be exposed to new cultures, meet and work with teams in a very diverse background and help contribute to the development of communities. You get time off from your usual work 🙂
The Challenges: You would get homesick at times; but during your last day of assignment, you wouldn’t want to go back to reality.
Allowance: We stayed in a mid-range hotel, we got allowance/per diem and normal payroll. 
Pro Tip:  Take many photos, experience things and be open to new culture! Stay connected with your team even after the program. 
3. Join Knowledge Transfers/Client Visits
One of the best things about working for a global company is the opportunity to collaborate with people who may be your clients, partners, vendors or suppliers. There will come a time that people from the management line or a team would be sent to the client’s site (depending on where the HQ or plant is located in the map) for purposes like site visit, knowledge transfer, process alignment, etc.
It is always good to be that person who would be on the top of your management team’s mind when such opportunity arises. I remember being honest to my manager about my intent to be part of a Knowledge Transfer Team. When a new project was announced, I talked to my manager and applied. 
5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
I feel so young and carefree here 
Universe has been so good to me and that was my first time to cross timezones.

The Best Parts: You enhance your skills and knowledge in your field which would look good in your resume. You get to understand different culture and people’s ways of work. 
The Challenges: Finding time to explore the place. During these kinds of business travels, it is BAU and you only have the weekends to explore. We found time to visit places in between flowcharts and process documents.
Allowance: This would be dependent on your company policy and client’s budget.  You most likely stay in a hotel, get allowance/per diem for food, ground transportation/car service and laundry. Some would even provide clothing allowance.
Pro Tip: Plan your weekend trips in advance so you don’t waste time. 

4. Hone Your Skills and Work with Brands
I love the 90s but I am glad that I have witnessed the transition and evolution of internet and social media.. When I started this blog, I wanted to be an anonymous blogger. I just wanted to document my adventures. I remember not mentioning places, brands or names. I would have scored low on SEO. I didn’t post my photos because internet was such a dangerous place back then (well, it is still now). 
We are living in a right moment since the internet and social media are giving us more opportunities to show our talents/skills and promote ourselves. Truth be told, I envy the younger generation who are just starting and building their portfolio online. There are so many guides, how-to’s and tips to help you get your name there (okay, I only need to look at numbers 1 and 2 to feel better about my achievements).  
5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
Underwater World Guam with Kuya Tonipet and Myke Soon
Brands are getting more and more creative in promoting their products and services. Most work with “influencers” and bloggers to get their message delivered to the right audience. 
My first invitation to travel was by Zest Air for its maiden flight from Manila to Kota Kinabalu. You have no idea how happy I was when I received the invitation. I was still working at that time and I had to file for a leave to join the #TeamKotaKinabalu . It is always good to have a supportive manager and back-ups!

Even after several invitations to travel and experience things, I still feel the same excitement like it is my first invitation. I never realized blogging would open up so many great experiences for me. 

5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
I got the chance to travel with the best content creators in South East Asia for #TripofWonders #WonderfulIndonesia
Brands do not just work with bloggers or Instagrammers. If you are a photographer, videographer, foodie, sports enthusiast, or an “influencer” in your own community, you still have a chance to get invited to work with brands and travel. 
Do not be intimidated by influencers with thousands of followers. 

The Best Parts: You get inside stories about the brands and you get to meet people/influencers/bloggers from other parts of the world.
The Challenges: When you agree to join or participate in an event happening somewhere, think of the opportunities/work that you would miss when you are in your home country.
Allowance:  Brands usually cover everything – from airline, accommodation and food. Some brands provide allowance/per diem – most, don’t.
Pro Tip: Focus on your expertise.
5. Be The Number One Fan!
This is not to say that you have to be a president of a fan club (but if you really are a fan of a brand or item) that could work too!
Think of how artists and love teams refer to their fans and fan clubs as their friends or family. You can be a part of a brand’s family too just for being a superfan. 

My superfan story started in 2013, a few months after I resigned from work. I was invited to become a part of Lenovo Insiders! It was like a Tech Fairy God Mother adopted me! I never knew such would open so many opportunities for me – I got invited to official product launches in London and Beijing, and the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona! It is every tech girl’s dream! Watch here, they even asked me to do an interview! 

5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
Great Wall of China with Jasmin and Lizza
5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
Cooking Class in Barcelona with Lenovo Influencers

Lenovo Tech World in Beijing

Sadly though, there are only a few brands who really get content creators and bloggers who are real users and fans of their products/brand. Some brands still get influencers to be their brand ambassadors who have zero knowledge about the brand. 
Don’t lose hope. Your “family” will find you soon.  
One of the happy fan stories I recently read is the one by @anagon. She got invited to Korea for a show with Sandara Park!!!

The Best Parts: You get access to inside stories about the brands, visit factories and Head Quarters, meet with people who share your same love for the brand. 
The Challenges: It is all fun to travel with your “family”!
Allowance:  Brands usually cover everything – from airline, accommodation and food. 
Pro Tip: Take the opportunity to learn from others who are in different industry and field. 
5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
Travel makes me feel little. Really.
Looking back at how I live and hustle, I realized that God has been good to me for granting me my simple wishes and wants. It is not that I have such a fairytale and lucky life. In the process, I worked hard and I had my fair share of disappointments –  maybe I am just too focused on my goals that I didn’t have the time to dwell on them. 
5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
Surround yourself with people who will keep you grounded
If you are still in school, or just graduated, or thinking of quitting your job – think of the opportunities around you and make the most out of them. In this social media era when everyone is dreaming of becoming “somebody” online, it is always good to build your own story.

5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
Happiness comes in waves
A little love note: 
I am forever thankful to the brands that I got to work with, and to the people who believe and vouched for me. 
Currently, I am saving the rest of the world for travel with my loved one (I know at some point in my life that I got to travel with someone really special). 🤩 But more than anything, make your travels more meaningful and worthy for you and the people around you. 
5 Ways I Got to Travel for Free
Follow me @ruthilicious
I hope you find this post helpful. 
Always think that there are many opportunities around us, and oftentimes, all we need to do is ask. Work in building your skills, knowledge and own story. Celebrate small wins – even if it means delayed luggage and success. 😉 

The universe will listen and give you something more worthy than 1,000 likes ❤️

What are the different ways that you got to travel?
Share your thoughts and comments.
Don’t forget to share this post and help others.

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