scratch map

What Travels With You: Scratch Map

Monday, June 25, 2012

Welcome to a brand new series on Sole Sisters! What Travels With You (WTWY) will feature all the things we can't leave home without when we travel. Last time, we featured this nifty item to make sure you're always connected while on the road. We've also revealed what's in the Summer Bag.

And we want to keep spreading the travel know-how by featuring items that are the travel gods' gifts to wanderlusters like us. This time we're featuring a fun item you can bring to keep track of your travels:

The Scratch Map Travel Edition

When the Quirks girls Zerline and Michelle invited me to check out their store and their products, I was so excited! This shop carries all those fun, not-what-it-seems, super quirky products from all over the world! I love that these sisters are my Sole Sisters too! 

They love to travel globally and bring home items and ideas to share with Filipinos!

One item at their shop that I was crazy about was The Scratch Map! I've been drooling over one since I've seen it online a few years back. How fun is it to scratch the golden foil to reveal places as soon as you've visited them? It's not just a great way to keep track of our trips, it fuels our wanderlust even more! 
Because we all know: The more you travel, the more you DESIRE to travel! 

Plus the scratch map gives travel tips. And it has sections where you can write down the highlights of your trip like your travel playlist, people you've met and your unique experiences! Best of all, at the end of your adventure, it's the best thing to post on your bed-side wall or study! Or you can just roll and pack it in its case and take it away for the next adventure!

The Scratch Map Travel Edition is an awesome gift to give your travel junkie friends. That will make sure they write you a postcard or bring you a souvenir from everywhere they travel! Speaking of gifts, I'm giving a Scratch Map away to the winner of the Share Your Passion to the World promo!

Scratch Map Winner

Congratulations to Gladys Balisi!

Please email us at solesisters(dot)weare(at)gmai(dot)com to claim your prize! And if you didn't win this time, you can still get your very own Scratch Map. Check out these unique gifts & novelties to quirk up your life by visiting the Quirks facebook page. Or drop by their stores:

3/F Power Plant Mall, Rockwell, Makati City; 757-3096
5/F Shangri-la Plaza, Mandaluyong; 577-9058

Do you have any unique and interesting items in your bag? Please tell us: what items travel with YOU?
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Have You Met Richard "Deepo" Matthews?

Friday, June 22, 2012

I was met by a slender, almost fragile looking man with wild beach blonde hair and eyes the color of the ocean on a cloudy day. He wore a shirt that demanded “Respect the locals.” I called him Richard but he said,

“Call me by my Hindu name ManDeepo or Deepo, it means light of cosmic being”.

Deepo is an Australian surfer who had come to the Philippines in the 80’s in search of surf and bamboo. He had found both and much more. He says, “I stayed because of the warmth of the people. The smiles on their faces. I’ve felt like a fish out of water in my own culture. And when I came here, I felt I was in calm waters. The Philippines is like a smorgasbord- a melting pot of different influences. It has the ability to digest incoming immigrants.”

Lanuza Seawall

It’s a curious corner of the Philippines that Deepo chose to be digested in. When Filipinos hear of Surigao, they often think of Siargao Island, the country’s premier surfing destination known for its barreling reefs and giant swells. Deepo had initially lived onthat island but his search for bamboo and more raw materials had brought him to the lesser known but equally captivating surfing village of Lanuza in Surigao del Sur, a boat ride away.

Lanuza Surfer

Surfing is bait for this small town.

But I felt there was more to this place than the lure of stoke. We watched curiously as a family of 6 fit into a motorcycle with wooden “extensions”and sped through town in all smiles. Children danced and played by the sea like it’s their first time to get splashed by ocean spray. By sundown, the entire town would congregate along the seawall to exchange the day’s stories and wait until the ocean had spat out the last thoroughly sunburned surfer. The locals lived in such sublime contentment that can only be understood as joy.

For them, every moment is as it should be.

Deepo Matthews

Deepo believes that the Philippines is the origin place of surfing- where the beach culture began. This coastline is actually an ancient laboratory, he says. This is where the first waves were understood. And now, this man aims to understand how the indigenous bamboo can make boards fit for these world class waves.

Bamboo Surfboard

“When I first told my wife I would start making bamboo boards, she thought I was crazy! But today, these boards are world famous. I’ve been sending Philippine culture to the rest of the world. Here, we use this colored weave which is an indigenous design to this island. This is my message for tourism: If you want to buy one of these boards, you have to come here and experience the culture, meet the people. We don’t export boards per se. If someone comes here and orders a board, then I ship them out. But not until they’ve actually been here.”

Deepo Matthews group

Surfing is the bait that entices us to leave our little bubbles. Deepo and I have taken the bait.

The Bamboo Surfer Lanuza AsianTraveler Magazine

Note: This post features edited excerpts from the article I've written for the June 2012 issue of Asian Traveler Magazine. This is reposted with permission from the editor. Read the full article when you grab a copy of the magazine at your local bookstore or magazine stand today!

My gratitude to Tanya Hotchkiss and Harry Kawanda who have taken some of the shots. And to Tatit Quiblat and William Hotchkiss IV who have made this interview possible.
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airport style

What To Wear at the Airport: Comfy

Monday, June 18, 2012

I never know what to wear when I head out to the airport. I always have to rummage through my wall cabinets! Should I wear a sleeveless top or a long-sleeved shirt? Should I wear jeans or tights? Easy to slip on flip flops or fashionable boots? How does a Sole Sister decide?

I'm grateful I have a lot of female traveler friends who can give me advice on what to wear during those long haul flights and countless security pat downs.

Comfy or Chic?

I've posed this question to these women and this is part 1 of their responses. Here are 8 women who prefer to wear comfortable clothing while traveling:

What To Wear at the Airport: Comfy with Rica de Ramos

For Philippine based trips, I usually go for comfort over anything else. It usually means going to be beach so I'm in a comfy shirt/tank and pants/shorts or a maxi dress. For international trips , I aim to wear 1 Filipino declaring item.

Rica de Ramos of Ang Kaladkarin

What To Wear at the Airport: Comfy with Melody Co

I dress depending on where I am going. If the weather at my destination is hot, I will definitely wear washable slippers in the airport to breeze through the scanners. To avoid plane discomfort, I prefer to wear dresses, gaucho pants, leggings or shorts which are acceptable enough for immigration and pretty enough for pictures. I also bring light jackets in my carry on for the rain or cold weather.

If the weather at my destination is cold, then I go for a jacket or a long-sleeved top, loose pants, thermal socks and rubber shoes. Although I do want to appear chic, comfort always comes first.

Melody Co of Guiltless Getaways

What To Wear at the Airport: Comfy with Cris Reyes

When it comes to clothes, I have one rule: choose comfy. I follow this rule everyday and the airport is not an exception. The way I dress at the airport depends on my itinerary because I always go straight to my first destination upon arrival. Wearing the right clothes for my first activity helps me save time so I stick to my usual jam-packed itinerary. This is also a significant part of my pack light attempt.

I always wear a jacket or something to keep me warm while on flight and closed, comfortable shoes. Otherwise, If I am headed straight to the beach, I wear a shirt, shorts and flip-flops, with my swimsuit underneath. As long as I still look decent, I am fine.

Cris Reyes of Pinay Thrill Seeker

What To Wear at the Airport: Comfy with Rain Amantiad

My airport fashion etiquette is a well-practiced skill borne out of 1 having to walk more than 20 gates in between connecting flights in the humongous Hongkong Airport and 2 sporting blue lips in a tank top-shorts-havaianas ensemble from a tropical holiday and into the waiting arms of New Zealand winter.

I've learned my lessons since. Ergo, no heels. I usually wear hi-cuts as they have the sophistication of boots and the comfortability of flats. I also see to it that I am armed for weather changes. So I always have a cardigan or jacket over a basic tank top. For bottoms, I wear leggings a lot, simply because it goes well with anything. For blings, I always carry sunnies for instant class when panda eyes won't let me and a hair scrunchie on my arm in case i need to put my hair up.

For singles, here is a fool-proof boy-magnet: branded headphones and a good book. It attracts the cool kids and the geeks, believe me.

Rain Amantiad of

What To Wear at the Airport: Comfy with Kara Santos

For flights, I prefer to wear really comfy clothes - a basic black shirt t-shirt, cargo pants or jeans, a comfy jacket or trench coat and shades. Socks are a must for the times you have to take your shoes off at the airport. I usually wear rubber shoes to minimize the weight of my luggage. Headware is also great for that pop of color, keeping hair neat during the flight, and doubling as an eyemask for naps on the plane.

Kara Santos of Travel Up

What To Wear at the Airport: Comfy with Kim Lim

Comfort and practicality wins whenever I travel by air. Nice comfortable pieces like tees and pants work well for me. I try to stay away from pieces that could easily 'malfunction', especially when I travel with a child in tow. Even so, I still try to add personality to my overall look - like adding a funky pair of earrings or a colorful scarf- something lightweight but eye-catching.

Airport security checks can be a hurdle, so I wear shoes that can easily be taken off. Ballet flats and flip flops are my best bets. However, when baggage weight is an issue, I wear the heaviest things I can, such as a jacket, jeans and trek shoes.

Kim Lim of Indie Escape

What To Wear at the Airport: Comfy with Mhe-Anne Ojeda

I used to travel in business attire when I was still connected with the company for representation purposes! Now, I always dress comfortably (but try to keep it nice) when at the airport. I go for a pair of jeans without belts, destination shirt, a jacket (because it can be cold inside the plane) and comfy shoes with easy remove strap to avoid the airport X-ray hassles.

Mhe-anne Ojeda  of My Comings and Goings

What To Wear at the Airport: Comfy with Pauline Mangilog Saltarin

If it were up to me, I’d travel in my bush shirts, shorts and Keen sandals all the time. This is what I call my travel uniform. Around South East Asia, this ensemble is just perfect as it is comfy and just right for the weather.

But travelling to European, Middle Eastern and some Asian countries is another story altogether. Pinay travellers are sometimes singled out for being, well… Filipinas. It is an unfortunate fact that we need to consider when we travel. That’s why I spend more time putting together my airport outfit when I go to these countries. Comfy chic is what I prefer. A good fitted jacket will give anyone instant style. I’ve invested in one four years ago and I’m happy to say that it’s been my fashion security blanket in several countries including France and Japan.

I wear jeans and a light sweater for comfort, a scarf in case it gets cold, and ballet flats that I can easily slip in and out of when going through airport security. If it’s winter where I’m going, I wear my leather boots but bring the flats in my carry-on just in case my feet hurt.

Pauline Mangilog Saltarin of Pinay Traveller

So that's a preview of what women wear to feel comfortable at the airport. We'll hear from the other Sole Sisters who prefer airport chic on the next post so stay tuned for that!

What's YOUR airport style? Comfy or chic? 
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What Travels With You: Smart Wifi Plug-It

Friday, June 15, 2012

Welcome to a brand new series on Sole Sisters! What Travels With You (WTWY) will feature all the things we can't leave home without when we travel. Over a year ago, we've featured some travel gear:

And we want to keep spreading the travel know-how by featuring items that are the travel gods' gifts to wanderlusters like us. So this travel gear series is making a comeback!

As a travel blogger, it's always a must to get a decent internet connection when I'm on the go. It's my pet peeve when I stay at a hostel or have cake at a cafe and they tell me " Sorry ma'am, we don't have wifi". Or worse, you can get free wifi but only after spending an exorbitant amount on food and drinks.

I've been in a situation where I urgently needed to send some photos to a travel magazine editor. The wifi was not working at the hotel where I stayed at in Ilocos. It was 10 in the evening and there was no internet cafe in the vicinity. What a loss of a great opportunity! 

That's why I was more than relieved when Smart Broadband approached me to try the WiFi Plug-It.It’s a WiFi + Dongle device. The WiFi Plug-It is similar to current USB plug-it devices but it emits a WiFi signal that allows additional 5 devices to connect to it. So you can share it with friends and connect to all your gadgets.


It's also the perfect mobile device for my weekend road trips! That's because it can stand alone as a portable WiFi device if plugged into a USB power source like a car charger through a USB adapter. As a promo, the Smart Bro WiFi Plug-It will be bundled with a car cigarette charger adapter to allow usage of the device without need of charging and without a USB port!

And boy, it's fast! It has the speed of up to 7.2 Mbps. It will be pre-loaded with 240 hours of surfing and 400 SMS to Smart and Sun valid for 10 days. Check out the Smart Flexisurf Plans to get the fastest internet for the most minimal cost.

I've tried a few wifi devices in the past but I'm sticking with Smart Broadband. Here's why:

• Most advanced 3G/4G technology for faster connection.
• Most area coverage so you I can surf in spots that are not covered by other networks.
• Most number of subscribers so I'm assured I'm with the best.

Going from one exotic location to the next is definitely exciting. But I need a fast internet connection that can keep up with me wherever I go. I love to blog about places in the Philippines and share travel tips and I always need to get connected. I'm taking taking this wherever I go!

The Smart Wifi Plug-It device retails for P3,495.

What gear travels with YOU?
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Passion test

What's Your Passion? (Plus Giveaway)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I was 26 when I discovered my passion for travel. It took me a while to realize that I was in love with the world. But when I found what I love, life was never the same.

Before I turned 26, I never traveled. I stayed at a job I fairly liked because of the security. I hardly went out of the country except for work and never even dreamed I could live outside of the Philippines. Every day was so mundane and ordinary that I didn't even care to know what day it was.

Life felt like a vicious, repetitive cycle. 

As soon as I realized that travel was my #1 passion, I became clear about the life I wanted. I wanted to travel and be constantly on the move. To live a life of constant growth and transition. I wanted every day to be a beautiful surprise. I started to live life more openly, paying attention to the small miracles that occurred on a daily basis.

I realized that passion doesn't start to show up in your life until you know what it is. It sounds pretty common sense, doesn't it? But a lot of people miss the point because they either don't know what their passions are, or they too preoccupied chasing after everything that they think they're passionate about until their energy wears out.

But how do you know what your passions are? Here are 3 simple steps to figure out what you're passionate about.

Photo Credit: Kenny Teo (zoompict)
What was your childhood dream?

Think back to when you were a kid. What did you want to be when you grow up? Did you have any personal heroes? Who were they and what did you admire them for? I remember that as a child, I had always admired an uncle of mine who is an esteemed lawyer and former government official. And so I thought I wanted to be a lawyer, even going as far as taking up a pre-law bachelor's degree. In retrospect, I admired my uncle for his jet setting lifestyle and influence. He had traveled the world because of his intelligence and his power of speech.

Passion Play: The Retreat

What do you constantly talk about?

Even before I traveled, I had always wondered about travel. Even during business interviews, I would ask interviewers who were usually well-traveled business executives (often expats) about where they've been, what they've seen and how they see the world. Now that I have traveled a bit, people close to me know I talk about travel 24/7. And when I'm not talking about travel, I talk about passion!

Passion Play: The Retreat

What makes you come alive?

I've seen this transformation in myself in the last few years. If you've seen me teach a financial services class, you would see I loved what I did. I was confident, assertive and focused. But if you saw me give a talk about travel, you would see that transformation. My eyes lit up, my gestures would get so animated, a playful smile would be on my lips!

I would come alive!

Now if these 3 questions didn't do it for you and you are nowhere near finding your passion, then you should join us for Passion Play from June 30-July 1 at the Circle Hostel in Liwa-Liwa Zambales. We are having a 2-day retreat designed for you tap into your inner child to find your passions.

Passion Play: The Retreat

The Passion Play is a 2-day retreat designed for you tap into your inner child to find your passions. The workshop will be fun and interactive and we will have surf lessons, yoga classes, painting and other activities to get us back to child-like state. Join us for a weekend of Passion, Discovery and Play!

Why You Should Play With Us

In joining this retreat, you will get more clarity on the things you love and the things that are most important to you. You will be surrounded with people who are in a state of joyful discovery themselves. And the setting? An artsy, laid back hostel that's walking distance to a beautiful yet powerful beach break. 

Passion Play: The Retreat

We are all defined by the things we love. And the more we are clear on our passions, the more joyful our lives become. Have you noticed that passionate people are like magnets? We are quickly drawn to their positive energy, their excitement for life and their smile! Do you want to be a magnet too? 

Do you want to live a life that's focused on the things that inspire you and make you happy?

Then join us for this fun-filled yet life changing Passion Play retreat! Here are a few things that people say about the Discover Your Passions workshop with Lois Yasay:

"Lois helped me organize my life in under 3 hours, and her process has helped me (and all of us) identify what truly matters most to each one of us."
Alessa Lanot of Life After Breakfast

"Through the Passion Test, I’ve found that what I thought I wanted the most in life wasn’t what I needed to start living my ideal life today. I’ve found that I spent a lot of time on things that I wasn’t really passionate about."
Jen Horn of Nomad Manager

Discover Your Passion Workshop

Retreat Details

When: June 30-July 1
Where: The Circle Hostel, Liwa Liwa Zambales
Cost: 5,500 PHP (If you're going with friends, please ask about our group discount)

The fee is inclusive of:
-Roundtrip transfer from Manila
-Half-day surfing with instructor
-Yoga classes and painting
-Overnight accommodations at The Circle Hostel
-Snack and 2 meals

This event is in partnership with The Circle Hostel and Offbeat Pursuits.

If you think the Passion Play retreat is for you, then join us on the facebook event, email or contact us via 09475400629 to get more details.

Giveaway for Travel Passionistas

And I want to share my passion for you by giving away a Travel Edition Scratch Map. It's a map that you can take it with you as you journey round the globe and scratch off where you've been on route - all you do is scratch off the gold top foil layer of the place you have visited to reveal a brand new and wonderful world underneath. The Scratch Map is only available in the Philippines at Quirks Novelties and Curiosities!

Click here to join this giveaway! This promo only runs until June 22!

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. 
Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 
― Howard Thurman

Your wandering passionista,
Sole Sister Lois
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My Top 3 Worst Moments in Travel

Friday, June 08, 2012

Whoever said travel was all fun and games was probably just channel surfing on Travel and Leisure network. Truth be told, sometimes we need a vacation from our vacation!

A lot of people think I'm an expert when it comes to travel. I beg to disagree. Travel can be so unpredictable, travelers can be so unpredictable and there is absolutely no way to guarantee that everything will go as smoothly as planned.

For a change, I'm not writing a how-to guide or feel good post. I'm telling you some ugly, nasty and downright horrible experiences on the road. And I'm sharing not just so you can learn from it. Admit it, we could all use some Schadenfreude in our day.

Schadenfreude (German noun)
-Happiness in the misfortune of others

3 Getting Boot-ed Out

I was packing my stuff for New York last January when I saw the knee high boots I was going to use for the trip. It was going to be a cold winter and I best come prepared. Instead of packing them in my small bag, I decided to wear them on the way. I was going to save on the excess weight and get to arrive in America in style. 

It was so beautiful in my mind. 

sexy boots
Photo Credit: shoe3000
For those of you who have done it, and have done it with flair, I am in awe of you. My experience was not quite the sexy strutting, hair flowing, shades wearing image in my head. As a woman, I still have a penchant for wearing things that look nice but are awfully uncomfortable. 

It's never a good idea to wear uncomfortable clothes including footwear in transit. Never.

So you can imagine what happens next. I had to wear the tight-fitting knee high boots and pass through over 5 airport transfers. We all know the drill right? You have to take your shoes off every time you passed through the x-ray machine. And some airports had as much as 3 stops!

By the time I arrived in Florida my final destination, I had gone through 5 airports, 8 X-ray machines and more security pat downs than I could handle! I almost went mad! I berated myself for not giving in and just putting on flip flops at some part of the way.

The boots did look very sexy...

2 Border Cross Fail

We were going to cross the border of Vietnam to Laos the next day so I had everything ready the night before. I put my passport, photos and money in a safe place before going to bed. I don't know about you, but border crossings always unnerved me. So many things could go wrong! I could lose my passport, be forced to pay outrageous fees, or god forbid- not be allowed to cross at all for whatever reason.

The van ride to the border was uneventful except that it was filled to brim with people. When we got to the immigration office of Vietnam, I had a sudden feeling of dread. 

I realized that my passport wasn't in my carry-on.

I had hidden it in a very "safe place" the night before: the bottom of my backpack. Major rookie mistake. And where was my backpack? On top of the van along with other backpacks, sacks of rice and boxes! I was ready to kick myself! The bus driver was unmoved by my plight. I had to climb up van, undo the ropes, look for my backpack under the mountain of luggage and grab my travel documents.

Vietnam Bus

It took a little over 30 minutes and I caused unnecessary delay. Suffice to say, I was the last one to get my passport stamped. With head bowed in shame, I walked back into the bus to face 40 fuming passengers. Not my proudest moment.

1 Baggage Allowance Horror

This part we never shared on the blog: the day Chichi and I had to go back to the Philippines at the end of our 6-month Southeast Asian jaunt. Except that we didn't. Well at least not together. So the story goes...

North Face Backpacks from R.O.X.

I was getting ready to leave for the airport. I was packing my bags when I realized Chichi wasn't. She was just there looking at me with this pained expression and not preparing at all. Then I realized.

I was going home by myself.

I'll leave it to Chichi to share with you in the future the reason why she didn't come home that instance. That makes for another blog post. But I had to get myself into a bus to the airport and I still had doubts about going back to the Philippines.

When I got to the check-in counter, the attendant informed me I didn't have any checked baggage allowance. I showed her the ticket again and explained that we did purchase 20 kg of baggage allowance. She pointed out that I couldn't use it even if we did purchase it. But why?

It was in Chichi's name, not mine.

So the airline's policy was that the individual who purchased the ticket had to be present in order to use the allowance. I was red in the face by the time I got to customer service to explain my situation. To no avail. I could have complained, cried and done a Claudine if I wanted to. But it was a budget airline and they had rules to uphold.

I did not want to pay for the checked luggage the second time around, so I had to get rid of stuff. It was mostly souvenirs, books and old raggedy clothes that lasted the trip. In the end, I got my 12 kg of luggage down to 7kg to pass through the hand carried baggage allowance. Lesson learned: keep the weight down to the minimum 7kg.

I sat at the airport lounge and couldn't help but let some tears fall. Okay, I wish was more composed, but I just bawled my eyes out. The whole baggage ordeal was distressing.

But more than that, I was at the finish line of our trip and I didn't want any of it to end. 

After a few minutes, I looked up and saw our friend Harry. He was one of the crazy couchsurfers in Chiang Mai and he was coming home to the Philippines with me.

Orange plane
Photo Credit: Mina D
Just as another adventure ends, a new one begins.

What are your worst travel moments? Please share it by leaving a comment below.

Happy for new beginnings,
Sole Sister Lois
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Vayama Will Fly Me To Spain

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I have to admit, when I was first invited by Jeannie of Nomadic Chick to join the Girls Running with Bulls Challenge, I had no idea how in the world I could pull it off. At that time, I could barely keep myself afloat after coming back from a big trip all over Southeast Asia. How could I get the visa, book tickets and find accommodations all in less than 2 months?

But as a Filipino traveler, I've always prided myself as lacking in resources but rich in ingenuity and assertiveness. I had to ask myself only one question:

"Is it possible?"

And as well all know, the answer will always be YES. So I threw myself completely into this plan, this challenge within a challenge. I remembered when Chichi and I planned our 6 month backpacking trip and the universe conspired with us, along with so many generous and supportive individuals and organizations!

I knew this trip wouldn't be any different. I knew that as long as you wanted something so badly, people will want you to succeed. That as long as you commit to an idea and work to achieve it, Providence will move with you.

And so with that decision, the support and assistance came together like pieces of a puzzle. Roomorama stepped up as our main accommodation provider in Pamplona and will be housing us at this gorgeous flat overlooking the bridge over river Arga. Eurail will provide us Global Passes so we can explore Europe as we journey to Pamplona and beyond. HostelBookers will provide our hostel accommodations from various points in Europe as we train it to San Fermin.

Only one major piece of the Spain puzzle was missing: the piece that would get me from Manila to Madrid.

And that's how Vayama entered the picture. I first heard about Vayama when I was at the Surf Yoga Samba retreat and met a woman who had been traveling extensively. I mentioned I was looking for cheap flights to Europe. "Have you checked with Vayama?", she asked.

Via mama? Don't think I've heard of them yet.

So I googled Vayama reviews online. I was wary of any Vayama scam, but the company sounded very legit that they could save me a ton of money on international flights. I found out that is a first-of-its kind travel web site that gives travelers a whole new world of choice in international air travel. Using the latest in web technologies, Vayama offers a massive selection of airlines, flights and fares, many never previously available online, so we can find the lowest prices and best schedule options for all our international travel. 

Simply put - if you buy your international travel from Vayama, you will find more flight options and save money!

Vayama is an online travel agency uniquely focused on international travel. The company offers travelers a vast selection of flights through its online booking engine that taps into inventory not available on other online travel websites. Launched in 2007, Vayama has continued to expand its online international travel services to include features such as 24/7 customer service, premium economy airfare, hotels, activities and car rentals.

I had to check for myself how reliable this company was. So I emailed them. In our almost 1 month of email exchanges, I got a pretty good impression of Vayama. They were very straightforward, worked impeccably fast and knew exactly what I needed. They were the real deal.

travel solved-

With that, I'm crowning Vayama to be the official airline booking site partner of Sole Sisters. 

I know I'll be in good hands when I fly to Madrid in early July and I can't wait to share the ultimate Vayama experience with you! I have a feeling, Vayama and I will go a long way!

Have you had a Vayama experience? How was it? Please share it in the comments below.

Excited for another great partnership,
The Sole Sisters

Main Photo Credit: matt.hintsa
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Inspired Travel Thursdays

The Vacation is Over

Friday, June 01, 2012

Getting back to work

About a year and a half ago, I quit my job as a financial services trainer for a multinational. It was tough to let go of the hefty paycheck, health benefits and stilettos. But I sold most of my stuff, put the rest in storage, and put everything I needed on my back. I set off on a journey that would take 6 months through 9 countries. I had saved 100,000 pesos before the start of the trip and have not been formally employed since.

Over 10 months has passed since I came home. And I can sense family and friends wondering “When are you going to find a job?” I guess in their heads, they wonder: "When are you going to stop escaping the reality?"

I'm making a confession.

This is my reality now. I don't think I'm ever going back there. To the desk, the meaningless job, okay- the heels can stay.

In a recent television interview I was asked this question: If you were to be given a salary of 100,000 PHP to go back to a corporate job, would you take it? My outright answer was NO. I wouldn't want to exchange the freedom I have and go back to working for money again.

You see, what people miss out on is that I may not have a job- but I do have WORK. I'm doing meaningful work everyday! You're looking at it actually. My work is to write about the places I've seen, the people I've met and the things I've learned.

I'm no longer on vacation.

I had long decided that the world will be my cubicle and every traveler I meet, my colleague. A lot of you may think, "How hard can it get?" This has been the hardest I've worked in my entire life! I've never worked longer hours, sent so many emails in a single day and had as many face to face meetings with so many strangers on a regular basis! I’m forced to take on a dozen job titles that include (but are not limited to) being an editor-in-chief, writer, social media consultant, speaker, photographer, travel agent and so much more. It's tougher than you thought, isn't it?

But there was never a day that I complained about the long hours, nonexistent salary and slave driver boss. 

And it's because of YOU.

Goa, India

The people who come to this site every day even if there's no new content. The ones who backread posts and revisit Why Travel Wednesdays. The loyal readers who have sent countless emails to tell us about your trips, your own discoveries or simply to tell us how a blog post has helped you on your journey. I kick my own bum and get myself out of a writing rut because I know there are travelers out there who seek a little guidance, inspiration or even just that space to dream.

I have fun every day but I’m not messing around. I’m slowly building a life that's focused on my passions. I love what I do and I don’t plan on stopping.

Thank you to every single one of you who has supported Sole Sisters along the way. You know who you are!

Sole Sister Lois

Main Photo Credit: By Mathias*
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