The Poor Traveler shows us that being a good tourist means being a smart tourist.
Our generation has a serious case of wanderlust, and social media doesn’t seem to help. Adventure looks too simple most of the time — pack a JanSport, book an Airbnb. See the world and take pics while you’re at it. But those freeze frames don’t tell the whole story of a trip, nor the plans you made to get there. And there should be research to speak of, unless seedy accommodations and scams galore are your speed. Talk about straying way, way off the beaten path.
Yoshke Dimen and Vins Carlos would know. These guys have been conned by taxi drivers, ditched at a wharf, and stranded in open water. Their vacations make great conversation starters, if not cautionary tales in some instances. Yoshke has a way with words, and Vins has an eye for photography. Enter The Poor Traveler (TPT): the duo’s multi-awarded blog about not-so-fancy jet-setting.
“We decided to build the blog for two things,” explains Yoshke. “One, to document our silly misadventures because, as inconvenient as they may sound, we still find them funny. And two, to provide tips so others won’t make the same mistakes we did.”
“Poor” refers to the hapless scenarios they often stumble into. Since its inception in 2010, however, TPT has evolved into a budget travel blog, so “poor” has taken on a different meaning for readers. It’s still familiar territory for Yoshke and Vins, whose first blog posts were about company outings. They savored those trips while strapped for cash, as Yoshke recalls. “At the time, we were at the very bottom of our respective corporate ladders and had probably 30,000 pesos to our name. Our budget at the time was just enough, so we couldn’t afford any mistake.”
Eventually, the poor travelers quit their day jobs to become full-time travelers. Sounds like every millennial’s dream, but the decision wasn’t easy. “We had siblings to send to school and nieces to feed,” Yoshke continues. “We couldn’t jump into it blindly. It was a calculated risk for us.”
A risk considered only after the blog took off, after the pair tried juggling part-time jobs to earn extra. Same goes for their travel philosophy: It pays to prep, because what’s a quick web search versus wasted travel time? Yoshke suggests checking the weather, cultural restrictions (“What’s disrespectful?”), local greetings (“Such a small thing that can go a long way!”), typical tourist scams, and, of course — how to get out of the airport.
“When we’re already there, that’s when we rely on our tools,” he adds. “Our favorites are Google Translate and Maps. They’ve been incredibly helpful not just in getting us out of hairy situations but in connecting with people, which is the most amazing thing about travel — just being able to connect and share a beautiful moment with people.”
The blog exists for those moments that make each trip worthwhile. TPT’s favorite destination was Australia, where Yoshke and Vins camped under the stars and explored the Great Barrier Reef. They’ve returned to Japan again and again, to discover more great eats. They’ve gotten to know locals along the way, and the occasional mishap gives them something to laugh about in between.
For TPT, knowing where to go and how to get there is part of the work. Avoiding tourist traps is a self-preservation tactic. It’s not an adventure without a little spontaneity.
“Be open to possibilities,” says Yoshke. “And that applies to all aspects of travel — transportation, accommodation, tours, adventures. Learn something new, try something new every time.”