In the old time it seemed impossible to give up a full-time job and travel the world because traveling is not exactly a cheap pursuit. But in 2015, I have seen more and more people, mostly bloggers, who have quit the corporate in exchange for a much adventurous, much liberating life of a nomad. As a person born with an itchy feet I can definitely understand the allure. And while I am still envisioning this kind of life for myself, I have met people who are already there. One of them is Chummy, a Graphic Designer who is now living the life most of us could only dream about. How does it feel to live a life free from the shackles of a 9-5 job? Read on to find out.
Tell us some things about you
My name is Chummy Boholst and I am a Filipino born freelance Graphic Designer in the midst of never-ending love affair with world travel. I am a disciple of architecture by degree and a wanderlust by nature. With a great passion for architecture, travel and inspiring others to go and see the world, I quit my job in Makati, bought a one-way ticket to explore and experience life. I share my stories, experiences, travel photos, and tips for everyone who wants to travel through all my social media platforms.
Where are you right now and how long have you been there?
I am currently in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. It is a beach town in the southern part of the country off the coast of the Gulf of Thailand. I’ve been here for 4 months now since I came back from Israel.
When did you start traveling?
I started travelling when I was still in university few years ago where I would go for architecture conferences and conventions. However, I did my first international travel back in 2012 and there it sparked my interest of seeing other countries and experiencing other cultures.
How long have you been away from the Philippines?
It was March 2014 when I left the Philippines and hopped on that plane to officially start my full time solo travel. That’s almost 3 years already. But I went home last year for Christmas holiday and visited my friends and family.
You are living a life that most people can only dream about, how did it all begin?
My life right now is something I can only dream about few years back. Five years ago, I never thought I’d get to travel and see the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur or the golden pagodas of Bagan in Myanmar or even float on the Dead Sea in Israel, but I did. Anyone can dream this kind of life and achieve it if you really want it. Anyway, it all began during my frequent travels to Boracay and meet other world travellers. Hearing their travel stories inspired me to live this kind of life. I always ask myself how they are able to travel for 3 months or 6 months or even a year. I told myself, if they can do it, there’s no reason for me not to do it as well. So I saved up and I did a month holiday. When I came back to the Philippines, that was my “eureka” moment and I said to myself, I’ll quit my job and I’ll travel again.
Out of all the places you’ve been to, which one is your favorite and why?
Boracay. It has always been my favourite place ever since I was in the Philippines and I keep coming back to this beautiful island. I love the vibe and the energy that this island have. There’s something about Boracay that makes me alive and happy every time I go there. I am a beach person and I am always drawn to the beach.
Out of all the nationalities you’ve encountered, which one is your favorite and why?
I make friends with everyone regardless of nationality. So I really can’t say I have a favourite nationality. It’s a matter of who you easily click with. For my part, I easily make friends with British, Americans, and German people. Perhaps because they’re usually the first people I get to have random conversations at an airport, on a night bus, or at a hostel. Israelis are also close to my heart not just because my best friend is Israeli but because they are so friendly and equally crazy as I am.
What is the best thing that you miss about the Philippines?
The food – Chicken Adobo (braised chicken in soy sauce and vinegar) and pancit canton, and of course my family and friends. Living abroad and travelling is a great thing. But I can’t deny the fact that I miss my family and friends back home. I miss Filipino food particularly Chicken Adobo. It is my ultimate favourite Filipino food. I can eat it everyday. I also miss pancit canton. It is my comfort food. I even asked a friend of mine to bring me packs of pancit canton when she came to visit Bangkok. Filipino food is not really known across the globe and it is very difficult to find any Filipino restaurants abroad. At least not in the countries I’ve been to.
What is your number one rule when traveling?
Pack light. I used to overpack and sometimes I still do. When I was packing for my trip to Israel, I realised I accumulated so much stuff and I don’t really need all of my clothes. So I piled all my clothes and removed half of it and donated it to an orphanage. Trust me, you won’t need half the stuff you pack. The lighter you travel, the easier you travel.
How do you have fun while traveling? Anything specific you like to do?
Travelling itself is fun. I like trying new things, exploring the cities and definitely watching the sunset. Mostly, I party, I dance and have drinks with the people I meet along the road and share our experiences and travel stories.
Yes, I have quite a few travel horror stories from missing a flight to bank card issues. But the top of the list was when I lost $300 cash from my backpack. I was on a night boat to Koh Phangan, Thailand feeling really excited about the Full Moon Party when I took my sunnies to put back to its case, and when I opened it, to my horror, my $300 cash is gone. I know I put 3 one hundred dollar notes in my Rayban case and put it in my backpack before I left Phuket that day. Of course I panicked and turned my backpack upside down trying to look for my money but to no avail. All the excitement was gone and I felt so bad about it all night. It was a huge amount of my travel budget and I had no idea how it happened. Despite that unfortunate event, I still managed to carry on with my travels and moved on. There’s nothing much I can do. The money is gone. Instead of being depressed about it, I chose to charge it to experience. I learned my lesson the expensive way — do not leave your backpack unattended.
You’ve been to so many countries already, do you have a favorite? If yes, which country is this and why do you love it?
Israel. Hands down. It is a small country with a very big heart. Before I came to Israel, I was scared because of the negative things I heard and read about the country from the mainstream media. But when I arrived there, it literally changed the game. It is such a beautiful country where east meets west — the Middle Eastern exoticism and European sophistication. Everything is just amazing — from the old city of Jerusalem to the Bahá’í Gardens of Haifa down to the beach and party culture of Tel Aviv.
I travelled around Israel but I stayed most of the time in Tel Aviv. It is a city where you couldn’t turn around a corner without encountering the kindness of strangers. The people are so warm and friendly and not to mention a lot of beautiful people. Yes, you read it right, A LOT! Israel is definitely the most gay-friendly country in the entire Middle East. In addition to that, Israeli food is to die for. I had the best time in Israel and made a lot of friends during my stay there hence it is my favourite country so far. I will definitely go back in a heartbeat.
If I ask you which country should I visit next, what would you recommend?
Myanmar or Israel. Myanmar is such an amazing country. It just opened its borders a couple of years ago and I suggest to visit Myanmar as early as now before it becomes very touristy in the next five years or so. The golden pagodas and temples of war-ravaged Myanmar are untouched and well preserved. I am not a sunrise person but I’ve seen the most beautiful sunrise in Bagan. I also recommend to visit Israel. It is a fascinating country. Being raised as a Catholic, there is an inexplicable feeling when you visit the Holy Land and see the religious ancient sites that we read from the books. Both Israel and Myanmar are very rich in history and culture.
What is the best thing that you love about traveling?
There are so many things I love about travelling. One of those things is the feeling of adventure. It feels so good to do something for the first time from jumping off a cliff in an island in Cambodia to partying in a music festival on a cruise ship in Singapore. On top of that, I just love meeting new people and making new friends. I am a very social person and I love talking to other people. I’ve made so many great friends whilst travelling and most of my fondest memories of travel are with the people I met. Travelling also allows me to witness awe-inspiring sites that I used to read in architecture books and history books and it moves me to tears.
What is your non-negotiable term when traveling?
I don’t think I have any specific non-negotiable terms when travelling. I can easily adapt to whatever the world has to offer me. I can sleep on a couch, on the floor or even without air conditioning. As long as the place is safe, clean, and reasonably priced, I’m good.
Travelling taught me to be self sufficient and independent. It allowed me to know myself better, and made me more sociable and outgoing by forcing myself to talk to strangers. I have learned that the key to happiness is spending our time and money experiencing life. Go wherever you want, whenever you want, and how long you want.
Be spontaneous and say “YES” a lot.
Say yes to new things and new experiences. Don’t limit yourself and be flexible with your plans. Sometimes it is good to go with the flow and be open to new things because that’s when the magic happens. Make mistakes and learn from it. Make more mistakes. Make sure to always have fun and become a better traveller. You won’t look back and think “if only I had more time and money,” but instead “damn, that was so much of fun.” MasterCard is right. At the end of the day, it is the priceless experiences in life that make us happy. Because experience will win. Every single time.