Travel Bug

Travel Bug Series 10 – Darlene Madrid

The first time I met her was in a fundraising event (Hugs for Nepal), and she talked to me like we’ve known each other forever. I was there thinking, “Who the hell is this girl? And why is she talking to me like we’re friends?” It wasn’t me being a bitch, it was me feeling weirded out. You see, when it’s my first time to talk to a person I am usually reserved, in a sense that I don’t talk a lot, shooting one-word answers to questions, keeping interactions to a minimum. But not this girl, she claims to be an introvert but in the short time that I’ve known here, I’m quite impressed by her ability to hold herself in front of strangers. In fact, she is much better at it than I do. Turns out this woman would become one of my closest friends in the world of blogging and today you are going to meet her. My lovely readers, let me introduce to you Darlene Mae Madrid, better known by her friends as “Dada,” our Travel Bug series feature, number 10.

Please introduce yourself

Hi, I’m Darlene! Without the G. Haha! You can also call me Dada, as my friends do. Born and raised in the Philippines. I work in the food industry, specifically food safety. I used to also work in the hospitality industry, so both experiences are quite beneficial to me when traveling. I’m also an introvert. Aside from traveling, food, and writing, I also love bacon and dark chocolates. I also dream of traveling the world with my own food truck someday.

When and why did you decide to put up your blog,  Point and shoot + Wanderlust?

I’ve always had a blog. It started out as a tangible journal, moved to Multiply, then Tumblr. Last 2014, I finally got the courage to make a new blog via Blogspot. Then later on, I transferred it to Weebly and now finally migrated it to WordPress. Quite a journey, huh?

Cliché as it may sound, I put up a blog to document my travels, including misadventures and food finds. A lot of my friends message me about travel and that actually inspired me. I’ve always loved writing, although I don’t know if writing loves me back. Hehe. But kidding aside, I hope to inspire whoever wants to read my blog as well as give them something to learn. As they say, it’s easier to learn from the mistakes of others.

When did you catch the travel bug?

I was born to travel. Sagittarius is my zodiac sign. Hahaha…

Aside from the occasional family vacations and field trips, I traveled through reading when I was young. I loved reading NatGeo magazine and other books that transported me to other places. I used to dream of being in places like Angkor, Easter Island, the Pyramids, Paris, and Iceland. It was reignited when I worked for a well-known QSR in the country as one of their Auditors. I got the chance to travel the country, albeit for work.

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Why do you travel?

No particular reason, but to go, wander and discover. I’ve always been a curious person. And traveling certainly satisfies my curiosity about a lot of things. Why we are all different, but still the same. How things work. What are the foods that they eat, and how do they do it. And so on. I like learning something new every day. I do read every day, but experiencing things real life is on another level. I also travel to escape. When I feel like the routine is getting to me, that’s when the wanderlust comes kicking in.

You went on a solo trip in Southeast Asia, what made you decide to do it? Which countries did you visit?

I wanted to try if I could do it. So I did. I’ve traveled solo so many times before in the Philippines, but not abroad. And I wanted to know if I can and want to travel long term.

My friend Kris (Monkey on a Bus) was one of the reasons why I finally did it. He quit his job and traveled for a whole year abroad before finally going back home. Talking to him and hearing about his experiences on the road made me realize that I too can do it. Another reason was because I quit my job and wasn’t sure which path to take that time – apply for another job like the last one, work abroad, or work freelance online. [Read: Travel Bug Series 6 – Kris White]

I visited Malaysia, Singapore (a last minute addition), Thailand, and Myanmar for less than 2 months.

As a solo female traveler, did you ever fear about your safety on the road?

The only time I didn’t ever fear for my safety was when I was in Singapore. Even here in the Philippines, I always fear about safety. The worst experience so far was in Melaka, getting harassed and almost attacked by a middle-aged man while searching for my bus stop. And it happened on a morning no less. Good thing Singapore proved to be a safe haven.

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I’m not saying be paranoid, or think that bad things will happen. It just pays to always have a presence of mind and at least have some knowledge what you can do to defend yourself in certain situations. I always try to search online or ask people what are the usual dangers or scam in the place I’ll be visiting.

How did you prepare for that trip?

Research, research, research. I like to plan trips myself. And sometimes, I can get overboard with the planning. So for this trip, I only researched the necessities. How much money should I bring? What are the popular tourist scams in that country? What are my best choices for accommodation? What documents should I need to present in the immigration. The rest, I planned and researched as I go. I tried as much as possible not to cram so much in a day so that I can really experience the place.

Which country is your favorite and why?

That is certainly a very hard question. But if I would have to choose, it would have to be Myanmar (Burma). It was such a surprise. I knew beforehand that I will fall in love with the magic of Bagan, as I did in Angkor. But the big surprise was the experiences that I had when I was there. Experience both with the locals and my fellow travelers. As I’ve said, I’m an introvert. I don’t always want to interact with a lot of people. But Myanmar brought out the extrovert in me. One of my fondest memories there would have to be when I got to tour Mandalay together with two Austrians and a bunch of (intoxicated) locals. It was definitely a very memorable experience.

What is the most daring thing you’ve ever done while traveling?

Sleep with strangers? Hahaha… And no, not in the way you are thinking. I’ve had the luxury of always staying in private rooms when I traveled the Philippines. So during my backpacking stint, I tried sleeping in dorms and even in private rooms, with strangers. I know a lot of people who won’t ever try this because it can be quite uncomfortable and risky. But thankfully, my instinct hasn’t yet steered me wrong when it comes to gauging the people I room with. It certainly has challenged my introvert side.

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Would you ever recommend solo traveling to other women? Why or why not?

Of course. I recommend it to everyone, not just women. At least once in your life, try traveling solo. Be it abroad or just a few hours from your home. It can teach you a lot of things. And whether you count it as a success or failure, is entirely up to you. The most important thing is, you’ve tried.

What are you hoping to achieve in your blog?

I don’t aspire to be famous or to get rich because of my blog. I still plan to become an entrepreneur and have lots of passive income through investments. Although my blog could also be considered an investment, I don’t see it as sustaining my lifestyle in the long-run. Who knows, I might change my mind the next day. Hahaha… jk.

I hope to aspire people to live curious and travel deeper. I hope that they’ll learn from my mistakes and misadventures on the road.

What is the biggest achievement you’ve had so far when it comes to blogging?

I consider getting readers who messaged me and thanked me as my biggest achievement. The simple thought that I’ve helped them or inspired them really makes my day and pushes me to work harder on the blog.

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What is your must-have item when traveling?

Lip balm, smartphone and wet wipes. I have an attachment to those three items regardless whether I’m traveling or not. Wet wipes has really saved me a lot of times. Haha…

What is your non-negotiable term when traveling?

A decent toilet. Although I’ve had my fair share of accommodations with toilets that are less than ideal. I survived those experiences, but when searching for accommodations, I always make it a point to read the reviews regarding the toilet.

Where are you off to next?

Currently, I’m looking forward to traveling more within the country while I’m waiting for the result of my next endeavor. Beyond that, I have no fixed plans yet. Although I’m planning to try my luck with visa applications.

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Any traveling tips you want to impart to our readers?

Be a responsible traveler. Whether you’re traveling DIY-style or traveling in luxury, do not ever forget to travel responsibly. Abide by the Leave No Trace principles. Dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, respect the wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors. Those are some of the things that we must always have in mind and practice.


Follow Dada’s travel adventures in her blog and social media accounts:

Point & Shoot + Wanderlust
Facebook: facebook.com/PointandShootWanderlust
Instagram: instagram.com/pointandshootwanderlust
Pinterest: pinterest.com/isilyastar
Twitter: twitter.com/isilyastar

Travel Bug Series 21 – Christine Rogador
Travel Bug Series 20 – Mikee Pascual
Travel Bug Series 19 – Arrianne Guzman

Comments (17)

  1. Indrani

    Great to know Darlene through your interview. 🙂
    I like her courage as a solo traveler. Wet wipes, toilets… I can relate to all that so well. 🙂

  2. mark wyld
    mark wyld

    great read and great adventure for this lady to just be out there travelling solo and seeing the world

  3. Bernard Tan
    Bernard Tan

    I totally can relate to her when she mentioned that she is Sagitaurus and she loves travelling! I am Sagitaurus too. I remember that I used to watch Nat Geo, and their slogan is Let’s get lost! it reminds me till date, that whenever you get lost, you tend to explore more.

  4. Sabine - SofarsoSabine
    Sabine - SofarsoSabine

    Darlene is a good writer. I would not dare to go travel alone. I think for women it’s still a little bit risky but in the other hand, why not? We must be able to do so right? Great example, that’s for sure!

  5. Darlene

    Thanks for the feature Marge! It was fun answering the interview questions. 🙂

    Thank you too to all of you guys who commented! Solo female travel may seem harder at times than solo male travel, but we have perks too. And I believe that all of you ladies out there can do it too! Doesn’t need to be another country. 🙂 But preparation and knowledge is key, okay!

    Hope you guys are all responsible travelers too!

    Safe and happy travels always! 😉

  6. Rachel Arandilla
    Rachel Arandilla

    Interesting take, you seem to have very cool and like-minded friends! I love travel too and like to read up stories of fellow travelers and what made them love traveling. I’ve traveled alone several times as well and it’s not really as difficult as people think, but does require a lot of guts! After each travel I always feel like I’ve changed, and grown up (a little bit!)

  7. Jessica

    I love her blog and all her photos! Great advice from a great travel blogger. I admire her courage to do it for two months with more than a pair of countries. Will be looking forward to her food truck!

  8. kareenliez

    I really envy those who could travel alone because I can’t do that. I can’t even go out alone at night! How much more if I’ll travel to a place that I do not know. But this is very inspiring. Well, if you could do it, why can’t other ladies do it too? 🙂

  9. Sonnie

    Very adventurous girl, haha! I don’t think I will allow my daughter to travel alone, that will be a torture until I see her in the flesh in our home. I agree w/ the other commenters, Darlene is a good writer 🙂


    WOW! Nakaka-inspire ang story ni Dada. I will find her and hopefully be a friend so I could pick her brains on travel. It’s not easy being a solo woman traveler for several reasons, pero that should not stop one from doing so, and by doing so, Dada has empowered other women.

  11. alison

    I love Dada! I totally understood her point of view of traveling. She totally gave me the traveling bug. I like how adventurous she is, too. It is inspiring to see how she lives her life and even how she “sleeps with strangers!” I would be too paranoid and be up all night long! 🙂

  12. Kylie

    It’s wonderful that you have been able to meet and and develop such a close friendships! Dada sounds like an incredible, but also brave person!

    I also take her wet wipes suggestion religiously; I *can not* travel without them! 😉

  13. Sheri

    Wow, I like the way this post is written and Dada comes across as such a great person, I can understand why you guys would become friends. I do not think I could travel on my own, too many things would hold me back from doing so. 🙂
    The suggestion to try it at least once might be worth taking into consideration, but maybe only over the weekend. Lip balm, smartphone and wet wipes, cant live without those either.

  14. Klaudia

    Amazing girl , amazing post , amazing places ! I love reading these travel blogs , it takes you away from your daily routine a bit . But I still think , that wouldn’t be my cup of tea , especially not on my own . But thank you so much for introducing Dada and her adventures , you did a great job . Btw , as I am living in Spain , and her name is Darlene Madrid , I was expecting to read a blog about Madrid 🙂 , but this one was even better !!!

  15. David

    She is amazing experience traveler. We can learn a lot from her. I loved the part “travel responsibly” since its really important.

  16. Dunja

    Such an amazing woman! I’ve always admired the courage of those who travel alone. It must be great experience, but i feel so much safer travelling with a friend.

  17. Sabine

    Sleep with strangers ha ha ha. Lol. I think writing loves you back. You write like you’re talking to me, very nice and easy to read.
    Traveling is always fun and a blog is certainly a good way to keep the memories documented. Sofarsosabine.com


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