FYI: You don’t have to spend a lot to have your fill of life-changing experiences. A deeper connection with family and friends, a new perspective, and an open mind are enough to turn any trip into a memorable one. Here, a few ideas on how you can make 2016 the year of meaningful travel.

1. Soak up the local history.
Round up your buddies and go on a field trip to one your city’s historical sites. 

2. Go for the long haul bus ride.
Taking the plane is the fastest and most efficient way to go from one place to another, but choosing the longer route is just as rewarding. You get to have privileged views of the roads leading to the destination, and become even closer with your travel buddies in the process.

3. Visit architectural gems.
We have a lot of talented architects and designers in the Philippines, so what better way to appreciate their works than by looking a little more closely into their obras while taking a leisurely stroll. 

4. Chat with the old-timers.
Invite your grandparents for tea and just chat with them. Their "been there, done that" insights will definitely make you look forward to the future. 

5. Learn the (basic) language.
Going somewhere? It doesn’t hurt to learn a few basic phrases. This won't just be useful when when you’re in a pickle, but also draw a smile from the locals. Getting an extra serving of the special delicacy you’re ordering is just a bonus. 

6. Eat with gusto.
Speaking of delicacies, always ask what the bestseller is at the restaurant you are dining in. Oftentimes, it’s the unassuming hole-in-the-wall haunts of the area that are packed to the rafters.  If you’re feeling a bit shy, observe and order what the locals order! 

7. Embrace the festivities.
There’s always a celebration somewhere! If you do get the opportunity to partake in the festivals of a given place, enjoy chaos and reverie. Trust us on this. 

8. Say yes to an invitation.
We all have that friend who’s always off to somewhere. Next time they ask you to come, no ifs, no buts, just go! Enjoy the opportunity and cross your fingers for an epic adventure.

9. Do the grunt work.
Sometimes, it really does take five rivers and a couple of steep assaults in the middle of the jungle to reach a destination. Grin and bear it, invest in proper footwear, and let your jaw drop at the reward of a spectacular view. 

10. Never forget sunscreen.
Wherever you go, don’t forget to put on sunscreen! Whether you’re hiking up the mountain or lounging on the beach, this kikay kit must-have will have your skin thanking you someday!

11. Sing it.
Aside from learning a few key phrases in a different language, why not try to memorize a song! This party trick is a great icebreaker,  especially when you have people who speak the language. 

12. Unplug the app.
Leave your gadgets at home, get your running shoes, take a deep breath, and go for a jog. 

13. Sketch it up.
Instead of taking a photo of a place or a thing that you love, sketch it! You don’t have to be a pro at it. What matters is that you are making art. As the quote from Eleanor and Park goes, "Art is not supposed to look nice, it’s supposed to make you feel something."

14. Ditch the digital map.
We are so reliant on technology now when it comes to travel, but how about going old-school with an actual paper map, or, if you're feeling adventurous, ditching it altogether? You’ll see more when you’re not glued to the screen of your maps on the way to see something. Remind yourself that it’s okay to take detours and get lost. If worse comes to worst, ask for help. 

15. Go on a food trip.
Invite someone to go on a food trip! Whether you’re in the city or in another country, good food is always on the top of the list of must-dos. Come up with challenges like, not spending more than P500 for the entire day or play food critic at the restaurants you visit.

16. Purchase products with a cause.
When buying the obligatory pasalubong for your family and friends from a trip, make it a point to buy from the locals and NGOs. You’re not just buying for the sake of buying; you’re also helping boost the local economy and support the business with social awareness.

17. Get away from the crowd.
Instead of making a beeline for the most popular attractions, why not go for the road less traveled? You don't just get to escape the crowd, but also get the perspective of a local. 


18. Get inspiration from books.
Fulfill your wanderlust without leaving the comforts of your couch by having a go at books that will inspire you to plan your next trip

19. Volunteer.
An unfamiliar place becomes more welcoming if you visit it with a purpose. Help others and get paid with a sense of fulfillment that no amount of money can buy. 

20. Pay it forward.
Wherever you go, always carry an attitude of gratitude for the experience and the opportunity to travel. Go the extra mile when sharing your story with other travelers. Inspire them to step out of their comfort zones. Share your knowledge and your resources.  

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PHOTO: Flickr Creative Commons/Vic Xia

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