How a Batanes lass travels the world
A pretty lass from Batanes province quit her high-profile job in an investment bank two years ago to pursue her dream of travelling the world.
Today, Aileen Adalid is a 23-year-old blogger and entrepreneur who hops from one continent to another, using proceeds from her online businesses.
“At the young age of 21, I quit my corporate job in 2013 to go after my ‘real’ dream which was to lead a sustainable traveling lifestyle. I first started out as a digital nomad, offering my services online in order to fund my travels. After a year of work and travel, jumping from one continent to another, one of the jobs that I did had inspired the business that I own now,” Adalid says in an email message, while she is on a European tour.
Adalid, who describes herself as a digital nomad and owns e-commerce website AdalidGear.com and travel blog Iamaileen.com, says her experience shows that “a non-rich Filipina can travel the world sustainably with only a third-world passport.”
“No matter the age, a big life change is possible,” she says.
Adalid grew up in Basco, Batanes and stayed there until she was 15. In 2006, she won a local beauty pageant as Miss Basco Princess. Her parents then sent her to study in a top university in Manila.
She obtained a degree in Business Management with specialization in Applied Corporate Management from De La Salle University in Manila. “I actually hold a business degree specialized for the corporate setting and it is totally unrelated to the profession that I wanted to do which was online marketing and graphic design,” she says.
“I started working at the age of 19, and at 21, I quit my job and started a travel lifestyle,” she says.
She says in 2013, her future looked bright while working at Deutsche Bank Group, where she emerged as the best performer in the team. “I was earning enough money to live by myself. I had a looming promotion, and an overseas transfer was expected too,” she says.
Adalid was recognized “employee of the month,” making her parents beam with pride. “People would even often think that I have it ‘all’ especially since I was doing really well in my career despite being a fresh graduate. But what they didn’t know was that I was terribly uninspired and miserable,” she says.
Adalid says she clung to that job to follow the natural ‘linear’ order of life wherein everyone is expected to get a stable 9-to-5 career after graduation in order to secure the future.
She, however, wants something else in life. “It has always been my dream to travel the world while working for no one else but myself. However, I ended up fusing myself with society’s conventions and concepts of security, so after graduation, I went into the 9-to-5 grind. I thought that would be the ‘final plan’ for me, but then I gradually realized that I was terribly miserable with a career and life that wasn’t really what I wished for,” she says.
“Certainly, not being able to do what I really wanted in life had burned me out; but other than that, the overall ‘office setting’ or lifestyle made me wonder a lot… Is this all there is to it? What good is in this ‘secure’ job if I am this miserable? If I am counting every hour until I could get home? If I am calculating the days until it’s the weekend? If I am always waiting for vacation, holidays, or long weekends? If I always have to ask someone for permission just to have a ‘break’? If I am wasting almost 5 hours of my day in traffic? If I am plagued by overtimes and unnecessary meetings?” she says.
Her life-changing decision came when she met a group of backpackers in Manila. “It [corporate life] definitely wasn’t the kind of life that I wanted, and when I started to meet backpackers, nomads, and entrepreneurs who were passing through Manila, my whole world was turned upside down.”
“Here were these individuals who abandoned society’s conventions because they chose to do what they really love to do, no matter how unusual of a thing it was and they were not only successful but they were happy too,” she says.
“That was the moment when I knew that it was time for me to take the ‘leap’. I didn’t want to waste my 20s anymore, nor did I want to settle and slave myself for a corporation just to fit myself into society’s concept of security,” says Adalid.
She says after a bit of preparation and discussions with her parents, she left her corporate job to go after her real passion in life, which is to travel the world while working for herself.
Her parents now live with her oldest brother in Canada, while an older sister is now married and has a child. “I am the youngest in the family,” she says.
“I really like traveling because I am hungry for life experiences and I want to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of everyone and everything in this world,” she says.
Adalid says she had no regrets after taking the leap into her new lifestyle. “I am slowly learning and I am absolutely enjoying this kind of lifestyle! Traveling really helped me step out of my comfort zone and as I keep on seeing how vast the world is, I am continually humbled by it all, and that feeling of exact humility is so priceless that I wish others would take the chance to experience it themselves,” she says.
Adalid says she also met her boyfriend in one of her early travels. “I am still single and unmarried, but I have a boyfriend, Jonas Van Baelen, who is traveling with me as he is a ‘traveling nomad’ like me too,” he says. “We both met at the time that I was starting a life of travel. Also, he’s my business partner too in the business I’ve set up--Adalid Gear,” she says.
“It has been almost two years now, and since then, I’ve flown around the French Alps as a paraglider, played around with elephants in Thailand, experienced peculiar customs in Europe, and so much more! Plus, as I hopped from one country to another, I had even managed to set up an online business that led me to live a more sustainable travel lifestyle today,” she says.
Adalid says she plans to sustain her travel lifestyle and explore more parts of the planet. “I am actually the kind of traveler that doesn’t plan too far ahead, since I often like to travel in a flexible and spontaneous manner. But I guess, what I am really sure of is that in the next five years, I will continue to travel to other destinations. New Zealand, Japan, Africa, Antartica, Brazil [or South America as a whole] are on the top of my list! I will try to prove to others that it is absolutely possible to travel the world even if I’m not rich and even if I only have a third world passport,” she says.
She says others can follow her footsteps into their desired destinations, irrespective of their status in life. “Do I have rich parents or family members to back me up? No. Do I have some sort of inheritance enabling me to travel the world and to set up a company? No. Do I have someone giving me money? No. I actually got to where I am now through my own hard work. I alone had made this lifestyle happen and you can do the same,” she says.
Adalid says the Internet opened opportunities for her. “I didn’t let my prior education hinder me from doing the things that I enjoyed. For two months, I scoured the internet for tutorials in order to learn what I needed to know, and when I was confident with my knowledge, I started to offer my services to different clients online,” she says.
“I had to start small at first, but then I slowly gained more recognition and I even bagged a contract for an online brand that paid me double than what I earned before. I eventually earned quadruple more when they promoted me to higher positions and this happened because they saw that I was good in what I was doing,” she says.
Her online work involved developing and promoting websites for clients. She found these jobs through freelance website oDesk.
“I first started out with oDesk to offer my services of graphic design, web design, SEO [search engine optimization] management, and marketing. Mind you that I didn’t know much about these areas at first. My course in college was about business anyways and none about marketing, design, or SEO,” she says.
“I just learned these skills by myself online which you can do too. There’s just so many free resources on the internet that there’s no need to really enrol yourself to a school. With the work I’ve done in oDesk, I controlled my time and I accepted/applied for paid projects that I wanted right in the comfort of my own apartment or in some beach or resort in Asia,” she says.
Adalid eventually landed a stable high-paying online job with a Swedish brand and that went on for almost a year. She started as one of the company’s customer service staff, before advancing to being the product line supervisor and eventually head marketing and social media manager. The job lasted for a year, after which she and her boyfriend decided to establish their own e-commerce business.
“After a bit of preparation and a bit of guidance from the CEO of the said Swedish company, Jonas and I set up our own online Amazon business: Adalid Gear. Even after resigning from the Swedish company, it still made me a ‘digital nomad’ apart from being an ‘entrepreneur’—because the kind of business that we had was still online and we can work anytime, anywhere,” she says.
When Adalid and her boyfriend decided to move from Hong Kong to Belgium, Adalid Gear officially became a Belgian company. The brand became famous, because “Adalid” means “champion” in Spanish. Adalid Gear sells the best gear and accessories available in the market.
“Things were going really good, especially since while I was doing all that work online. I was also traveling at the same time — I was in full control of my time. How was I? Happy, fulfilled and contented!” she says.
“It was then that I learned that doing the means to achieve the lifestyle and career that I want is always the best choice; it will be hard at first — of course it would be — but for as long as I work hard, which becomes second nature to me because I enjoyed doing it anyway, things will always bear fruit,” she says.
The strategy, she says, is to create one’s own sense of security. “We are often bound to our office jobs because it’s the typically perceived way of securing our future. However, that’s not entirely true, because there will be a time that you might get laid off or fired — you are working for someone else anyway,” she says.
“It is for that reason that we should always create our own sense of security which is usually in the form of making a profession or a business that you would personally own and control. ‘Always think long term’ was my mantra and this kind of outlook helped a lot in making me into the entrepreneur that I am today,” she says.
Adalid says by dealing with different clients, she had it in mind to think of more sustainable ways to support herself. “I was always open to whatever opportunity that could come my way, and an opportunity surely came when I was inspired by one of the online clients that I was working for. They had a really good business and after learning almost all the processes that they had, I just knew that I can do it too. So after a bit of preparation, I along with my partner, decided to adopt their idea and launch the online company: Adalid Gear,” she says.
“Today, I am no longer working for anyone else… I am now working for myself, and the way I see it, I have truly secured my own future. I have built my own dream, and you can do it too,” she says.
She says her traveling lifestyle truly helped in her entrepreneurial journey, as she is constantly encountering not only new experiences but new people who are also building their dreams with their own abilities.
“All those things really helped push me into aspiring for my own. But above all, I think that what this ultimately boils down to is the thought that for as long as you abandon conventions and embrace fear as you go after your true passion in life, great things will always happen. It can be a fast process, though most of the time it can be slow; but like everything else, it’s not a race but a journey and you are going to enjoy it!” she says.
Adalid is currently traveling around Europe. She was featured and mentioned in articles published by Lonely Planet, the Department of Tourism in the Philippines, Travel Pulse, Kansas News and other media outlets.