Frugal Travel Tips Story #19 – Interview with Juanito Estrada

There are people who go to different countries for a very long time. Some are long term travelers, who hop from one country to another. Some go to different countries for a purpose. Such as Juanito Estrada. I have not met him yet but I’m amazed at how he survived far flung areas in Africa and currently, Nepal.

While I’m taking a break from international volunteering, I admire people who are currently reaching out to do what they need to do. This is indeed a great timing since we are celebrating the International Volunteers Day.

And yes these people travel.. but they travel not just to tour places although it’s indeed a great reward for the work that they do, they travel with a purpose. And you get to learn some culture and some dish to cook as well. Read his food blog and savour different dishes from different countries. Read on how he was able to do it:

juanito estrada

Can you tell me something about yourself? Occupation/hobbies/etc

I am a university lecturer on natural sciences, and currently a professional volunteer. My main advocacy is on environmental health education that empowers minorities to attain a self-sustainable community utilizing local resources. Passions includes philanthropy which is very innate to me, exploring less explored places and my high are the wilderness and being with my small group of close but trusted friends and immediate family members. And I love my privacy. Planting trees and volunteerism is a part of my lifestyle.

Of all the countries you’ve been, which one is your favorite?

Tanzania, it is blessed with everything, the awesome landscapes, exotic animals, the serene vast azure seas of the Indian Ocean, the mystic lakes with endemic organisms, its warm and hospitable with different cultures, traditions, religions but living in harmony, a blessed nation with very rich resources, it is simply paradise!

Any hidden paradise you’ve discovered that are not on guidebooks?

The beaches of the islets in the northern part of Pemba Island in East Africa, from its wonderful, drop off sites teeming with autumn colours of the organisms, isolated white beaches and tropical fruits. Also the vast savannahs of Katavi, Ruaha, and Lake Natron national parks are simply amazing. Cycling and travelling with my foster brother Mustafa Hassanali and his wife Durriyah, and close friend Mohammed Mustafa Hassanali and his family is always a thing that I look forward always every year, I hope I will not miss it this 2016!

Have you met a person that is not from a developed country doing the same thing that you do?
Yes, my foster brother Mustafa Hassanali, he is very passionate about everything on what he can do for others. We have a lot in common, the love for family, nature, cycling, and of course food but we are also opposite in a lot of ways, he hates reading, which I love so much, he is calm and I am an agile but it compliments. He is more than a biological brother.

juanito estrada3

How do you fund your travels?

I always save for my travels so that it will commensurate my lifestyle. Living simply by eating to survive but not to indulge, buying resources from the locals to benefit them directly but also getting the freshest and healthy produced, To savour my travels I love to be acculturated by spending time with the locals and travel using local transports if not hiking, cycling or trekking. To synthesize, save for the best, live simply because the greatest luxury in life is not on splurging, but it is in always in simplicity.

What are your plans after traveling?

Embarking on my I love always, teaching and live simply in a quite place where I grow organic organisms for food trees, continue planting trees and be involve biodiversity conservations, I will still do the things that I love to do today. Travelling is a thing that I cannot stop doing, because it is my greatest teacher and entertainer, it always put me in equilibrium and makes always dynamic. I am simply a nomad.

Do you have frugal travel tips you want to share?
Travel like a local, commune with them as a local, and you will experienced as a stranger that kindness is everywhere and will restore your faith in humanity. The only tip is to be sincere and honest always. Spend like local always!

Any advice to people that wants to follow your lead?

Happiness in life comes from small packages as they say, so put always the spirit of sincerity, compassion and transparency, then you will how to love and it will radiates back. Love changes everything no matter what.

Frugal Travel Tips Story #18 – Interview with Inga Ines

Frugal Travel Tips Story #18 – Interview with Inga Ines

While I’m in a limbo state of trying to figure out where to go next, trying to fund travels, and still warming to the cosiness of home, I’m in the mood of discovering people who are living their dreams.. I am envious but at the same time, motivated to continue what I love to do best.. to travel, to tell stories, to make sure the next generation will not be stuck in their daily lives doing the same routine over and over again.. and that whenever they are in this world, there is an alternative option. And yes, I have to believe that no one is voodooing me for those misadventures too:)))


But while I’m in a stage of resting and planning, let me feature someone who did conquer their dreams, and with less money too! Know more about Inga Ines here:


inga ines3


Can you tell me something about yourself? Occupation/hobbies/etc

My name is Inga, i’m 27 y.o. woman and i decided not to work in a traditional way but to follow my dreams and see what the humanity has achieved and what 1 person can do in this world to bring the change. I started from myself. I’ve got many skills, I’ve learned to speak several languages, studied the world culture, i’m a good vocalist and i play the guitar and write music, i’m an artist and a massage therapist and those are just a few of the things that i do. And i’ve started to travel the world, i’ve already been to 30 countries, with almost no money but my skills, finding good friends. Because i believe who you are inside is much more important than what you have outside.


inga ines2


Of all the countries you’ve been, which one is your favorite?

I found that every place is very nice and it depends on you if you are open enough to understand that.

But I do enjoy the island countries and in Iceland it was such a pleasure to talk to the people in there (several times people just stopped to help even if they couldn’t drive us further), very social and positive country. And the nature is very nice. It’s simplicity helps to reconnect with your inner self and helps to realize what you want. I hope to find the same in New Zealand during my future trip although i’m pretty calm now but NZ has been my dream country for so many years that now i just want to finally get there. Wish me good luck with that.


Any hidden paradise you’ve discovered that are not on guidebooks?

I found my paradise inside myself. Wherever I go I feel like I’m home. Actually people started to write guidebooks about finding your inner self now, but the best way is taking the first step and do what you think is right for the situation. The rest will follow.


Have you met a person that is not from a developed country doing the same thing that you do?

Do you mean yourself haha?! That’s a good question i actually kept thinking about during my previous trips. I try not to divide people into countries, and developed or undeveloped it is inside of every person to realize that the decision to follow their dreams is only theirs and that every person can do it. No one else and not a single ruler or king can take it from a person. When i meet the person ‘from which country are you from’ is not my first question.


How do you fund your travels?

I hitchhike, camp or couchsurf and couch host, so I travel without money. But if i need something i sing and play the guitar on the streets. Busking is a great option and experience that brings people together! I can do a painting at someone’s place or some medical massage therapy to help someone who struggles with pain. I can go to almost any place in the world and why not doing the things you want on the way?!:)

inga ines


What are your plans after travelling?

To start a family and continue travelling with my family and following my way. Why not?!:)



Do you have frugal travel tips you want to share?

I’ve got plenty of those, i put them into the songs that i write and my articles i post at my website:

But let me start with just a couple of them and you can use them in everyday life not just while travelling :

Be creative! instead of running around searching for the nearest shop where you can buy something- think! First of all ask yourself do you really need it?! Then use what you already have, you might be surprised how creative you can be. Remember almost everything can be almost everything… seriously!

Cook your own food! Buy some simple food rice, dried fruits and vegetables for breakfast, for example, and cook it yourself. Thus you will reduce the price of the journey to almost none.

And one more like Bear Grylls once said: smile when it rains and if you’re going through hell just keep going! This one saves my day in every situation!



Any advice to the people that want to follow your lead?

Don’t wait or expect anything from anyone but yourself. It’s you who decide to do something or not. No one put a curse on you (my mother always thought so and never got to her dream city Paris, until one day i just bought her a ticket! 19 tickets actually so she can also see the rest of Europe (why stop at Paris?!). Now she’s going there for the 3rd time, on her own). Too many people exist instead of living their dreams and so did I. If you’re reading this This is the sign for you to start your journey!

Surviving Tokyo on a budget

A few days ago, a Japanese guy went to visit a homestay in Leyte. Thank you Kensuke for having fun in the Philippines. Now, I have not been to Japan yet.. although I see many people in my friend’s list have been there or is planning to go, thanks to the easing of visa applications.

I’m not yet keen to go visit Japan, coz I’m targeting another continent. Meantime, Sarah of Go Find Sarah lived there already. Yep, she’s country hopping Asia. Let’s see what she has to say about surviving Tokyo on a budget:

Whether you are travelling around or staying put in Tokyo, remember this, even with the Japanese Yen down, Tokyo is still an expensive city (now ranked Asia’s 11th most expensive city).

tokyo on a budget

So… how do traveller’s on a shoe string survive? There are some tips and tricks.

1. Working in a hostel
This is exactly what I am doing right now aside from writing articles. I only work from 11am – 2pm. I get two days off per every seven days worked. I do not work overtime and I certainly do not work any minute less than the agreed 3 hours. Because of this, I get a free place to stay and a bunch of new international friends. Oh, and I get to use the hostel facilities too, such as the computer I am using to type this article out. Cha-ching .

2. Public transportation
Unless you have your own bicycle or some sort of solar paneled bike, parking fees and public transportation fees will kill you. It half killed me, that’s why sometimes I would choose to walk for 30 minutes more just to save ‎¥120. Speaking of public transportation, Tokyo has one of the best and one of the most complicated systems I have ever seen. Different train lines are owned by different companies. I always rely on google map and I very often opt to take JR trains just to save a couple hundred yen. So next time, remember to google your way and check out the various options and prices.

3. 24 hour super market
Where I live, in Asakusa, I can count at least four 24 hour super markets. I love it! It means my friends and I can go down and grab some beer at 4am in the morning because we cannot afford to drink anymore at the bar. And, it can also mean I can grab my favourite ¥82 chocolate bar again whenever I want! But the best thing is, super markets often have a tiny section that sells almost expired food at 15% off. I always hit the discounted veggie and fruit section as it’s the most expensive thing I eat daily. Then there’s the fish, bento box, fried tempura, sushi, salad, and of course, karaage (Japanese fried chicken) sale (usually half the cost, but you need to know the kanji on the sticker). Around 10pm – 12am, you would see people, my kind of people, strolling around the whole super market scrounging for discounted food. I remember this one time where a Japanese lady fought me over dango (sweet rice cake).

4. Clubs
Those who were born with testosterone and wants to go clubbing in Japan better remember to bring your fat wallet to the club. The world was never fair, I know. Guys always have to pay more and ladies always have discounts (or even free on ladies night). That’s just too bad :)

5. English cafe
I’m a bit bored with my life in Tokyo and got introduced to an English cafe. Though various English cafes offer different incentives, mine gives me free drinks every half hour so long as I keep talking to the Japanese customers in English. Wow, free drinks and I get to talk? What a find!!! Just so you know, normally when you have a working visa, you get paid. I’m just there for fun.

6. 100 yen stores and 300 yen stores
Does the name Daiso ring a bell? If so, you’ll love it here. Somehow, everything they sell seem so practical and so cute. And it’s cheap. From snacks to nail polish, house hold items to cute accessories, I just want to own it all. In reality, I don’t really need it, but I can’t stop myself. 300 yen store is like the upscale of a 100 yen store, but a tad bit more expensive. Things do look sturdier, colours more varied, and design seems to be better. Maybe these stories will make me broke after all.

Tips and observations when traveling with elderly people

Tips and observations when traveling with elderly people

travel with senior citizen

Finally, my mother, a senior citizen, was able to travel out of the country last month. We did not do many activities since we don’t want her to be too tired as it’s normal for elders but we still managed to travel and visited different places in 2 countries.

We traveled to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and the golden triangle in Thailand. Then we moved and went around Hanoi, Hoa Lu Tam Coc, Bai Dinh Trang An and saw awesome mountain formations that looked like El Nido Palawan.. we skipped Halong Bay because everybody goes there.

The 3 weekend trip might be a lot for some elderly but most of what we did were food trips and we preferred hotels when looking for places to stay in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Hanoi.. so for restless young travelers, it’s not much of an adventure.


Nevertheless, it still was an adventure for my mom since she rarely get out of the house nowadays.

These are tips and observations that I managed to capture while we were traveling. Hope those who are in the stage of planning to travel with parents or elder people, read and hopefully you’ll get some good information:

1. Senior citizen 20% discount is only applicable in the Philippines, unless someone amends the law to make the rest of the ASEAN nation adopt this best practice *cough*

2. Prepare them about what food to expect when they travel.. For Filipinos, tell them beforehand that there are no Jollibee in some places. We were at an expensive restaurant eating my favorite sushi when my mom blurted out – “let’s not go to this place anymore, how come food are not delicious and there are no Jollibee here.” She did not even care how I invested quite a large amount on my favorite food xD

3. Make sure you have a link to the live streaming of their favorite telenovelas in case they miss it. Good thing my mom, although a telenovela fan, did not miss her favorites when we were traveling.. But I have a friend whose mom became cranky when she found out we did not have a television in the place where we were staying in Tagaytay. So to the children of these kinds of parents.. please be prepared. ^_^

4. Do not make them walk a lot unless they want to. Although to be honest, we saw elder people jogging along the streets of Chiang Mai.. I wonder how were they able to maintain such impressive active lifestyles.

5. If you make them walk a lot, and they get cranky and get heatstroke, make sure you have insurance. Well.. reality check.


golden triangle



On the other hand, aside from not being impressed on that expensive restaurant, there are a few insights from my mom that I think is worth noting. Here are a few:

1. People in this region are slender.. Even pilots are very petite which reminds me of the book – The Little Prince. So lesson learned is don’t be fooled by the thin figure.. they might look malnourished but you may not know they are actually rich.. I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about slim pilots xD

2. Noodles.. big noodles, white noodles, dry noodles, noodle soup.. NooOodLes galore. That’s what we observed in Hanoi. We also noticed people like to eat raw vegetables in Thailand and Vietnam.. guess that contribute to the slender figure? For a change, this picture does not show noodles :D

Vietnamese restaurant



3. Country divisions are interesting, you just ride a bus, or a boat, you’re already in another country. Filipinos in particular find this interesting because we are surrounded by sea, so if you want to go to a neighbouring country, you have to travel far… In Thailand, we just went to Golden Triangle, and we are immediately in the center of 3 countries Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos.

4. We also noticed how tourists are very casually dressed.. some of them just brought random plastic bags that seems like going to the wet market to buy veggies or meat.. I think the secret is to dress down like the locals to not get attention of kidnappers..



5. There were actually rude people including a policeman inside the train and rude restaurant waiters in Bangkok; and the rude hotel staff in Hanoi.. probably because we’re Asian too and do not have the white privilege.. We could have avoided that if we just go via tour trips where we’ll be treated nicely like the proper tourists in a bubble but we wanted to do what the locals do so we rarely did tours while traveling around. This way, we have captured genuine reactions of people.

To conclude, there were nice and not so nice aspects of traveling. It is rather annoying when friends and some family members always think traveling is fun. I’m talking about my reality.. and most likely it’s reality to every normal person too. But nevertheless, like the yin and yang, such is life.. and we don’t focus on the annoyance but the bliss that travel has to offer.. and I’m happy my mom just experienced it too…


How about you? Do you have any suggestions/additions to the tips and insights above too? Share them away and let us learn from each other.

10 things you need to bring for long term travels

When I lived and traveled in India for 7 months, I only had 1 big luggage bag and a backpack. Half of the bag was food because I know it will take some time adjusting to the spicy food of the country.

Same thing happened when I lived and traveled in Thailand. But then when I backpacked last 2013 in South East Asia and then backpacked again in Nepal and Malaysia last year, my luggage bag got a bit smaller..

I aim to have minimal things to bring next time.. although I still have to figure out how to travel with bulky winter clothes if I start traveling to Paris, Italy, Germany, Spain or any other country in my dream travel destination list.. hmm any suggestions?

For the curious, here is what I plan to bring that you can also bring once you start that long term travel.

1. Clothes – Backpacking on a small baggage is not a problem when traveling in tropical countries because you carry light clothes only. But this time, it will be a challenge to figure out how to bring winter clothes on a small baggage..

Anyway.. I should remember how I packed my bags when I was in Nepal..


2. Laptop and universal adaptor – I could not live with my laptop. It gives me my food and travel funds. For the past 6 years, I always have bought a laptop with me during my travels. That is because this is where I work and earn online. Who says you can’t mix work and travel? I worked online in this carinderia in Pokhara, Nepal ^_^

work while traveling
3. Cellphone – Since I started traveling, I have a very cheap small cellphone. I’m just happy to be simply connected so the smaller the lighter, the better. This is also a way to not get too much attention from snatchers.

4. WIFI and Solar powered gadgets – I’m bringing online work with me so if I will be in the middle of nowhere, I will still need to find ways to get connected. I will need to get a solar powered charger for my gadgets too.. sponsors pretty please. ^_^

5. Toiletries – some Filipinos bring tabo while they travel. I know it might seem weird but since I’m traveling with a limited baggage, I’ll device something small like a cup..

6. Medicines – The last time I checked I’m healthy.. I didn’t get sick when I was traveling in cold beautiful Nepal. It is still better to be prepared so I’ll bring a medicine kit with me.

7. ATM and cash – Now I need to be aware that sometimes, there will be credit and ATM card scams. And since I have also experienced having my ATM stuck and I cannot withdraw money for some reason, I therefore must be ready to have different sources of funds.

8. ID and Passport – Oh yeah. Must not forget!

9. Books – I love reading books. I actually can find time to read when I’m traveling. Usually during waiting on board a plane, or on a train or bus ride, or when I get tired of people watching. This book “What is mine is yours” is thick, if I could just get a smaller version, I would finish reading it.

what is mine is yours
I’m aiming to read “The End of Power” and any book about self sustainability this year.. I still have to buy the book! But donations or trade ins are welcome so I don’t have to buy one… But if there is no space in the luggage, I will then have to give way to a rather more important stuff which is..

10. Comfort food – Yep. Last but not the least. There will be times I’ll crave for food that are not readily available in the country where I’ll be traveling.. These comfort foods were a life saver when I was adjusting to the super spicy food in India. So I will need to find a way to squeeze these noodles in my bag on the next journey.

For those who are on the planning stage, start planning already after you have gotten cheapflights to your target destination. You can also compare flights via skyscanner, momondo, or whatever tool that you think is best for you to get the best bargain. I’m done buying the tickets. Then I’ll figure out where to go from Dubai to the other side of the world..

**I bought the ticket but wasn’t able to go last year because of the usual reason – lack of travel funds. I hope the year 2016 is the lucky year.

There is still very plenty of time and months to prepare but of course, I need to plan where to go next.. Any suggestion?

I plan to stay in places that exhibits self sufficient lifestyles so I can learn something when I get back from my travels. Unique homestays and tribestays should also be in the agenda. Of course I should pamper myself in a hotel once in a while.. I’m pretty flexible with ideas. We’ll see how it goes.

I feel jittery and excited and pressured. But I trust that the Universe will conspire for me to have a safe trip this time.

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