What Are Your Travel Rituals?

I’m not talking about packing or prepping for your trip, but the little rituals you do whenever you visit a new destination. Each traveler is different, and it’s interesting to peek at what he or she does during a trip on top of the usual expeditions. Here are mine.

1. Look at the local magazines.
As a print journalist trained in magazine publishing, I’m always browsing magazine stands to see the cover stars, beauty trends, what new titles have emerged, which ones have folded, and how editors have evolved with their blurbs. I also make sure to buy at least one magazine from every new country I visit, even if I don’t understand their language.

My best friend J sends me magazines from all over Europe. Check out my Cosmopolitan Magazine stash (L-R): Spain, Italy, Germany, and France.

My best friend J sends me magazines from all over Europe. Check out my Cosmopolitan Magazine stash (L-R): Spain, Italy, Germany, and France.

2. Visit local beauty stores.
You can tell a lot about the country’s pop culture by visiting their makeup and beauty counters. When I was in Korea, I noticed that not many girls wear blush, but they have an extensive selection of BB creams and black eyeliner. In the US, trends come and go fast, so you’ll find last season’s collection in the red tag section as soon as the new collection arrives. Whenever I visit a different country, I enjoy exploring makeup and skincare shops to see how their local brands package their items and what their beauty standards are like.

Shopping in Seoul, South Korea, January 2014

Shopping in Seoul, South Korea, January 2014

3. Visit a corner coffee shop.
After days of exploring, I take a day off and sit for hours at a local café—preferably not the franchise kind. Sorry, Starbucks! I still love your Toffee Nut Latte, but not when I’m traveling. Hole-in-the-wall coffee shops usually inject the local town’s persona, from their source of coffee grounds to the kind of pastries they bake.

Take your pick from La Monarca’s fresh pan dulcet, artisan breads, cakes, and cookies.

La Monarca Bakery in Santa Monica, California, circa 2014

4. Buy pasalubong.
This is the innate Filipino trait I have. Even when I’m pissed that my family is asking me to buy a list of hard-to-find items despite having little space left in my luggage, I can’t help but buy oodles of souvenirs for my extended clan. To save time and money, I allot half a day or one whole day just for pasalubong shopping in one main shopping area, where I can haggle and bargain my way—another Filipino trait I’m proud of. One dozen “I Love Vegas” keychains for only $20? I’ll take it!

balikbayan box

The easiest way to spot a Filipino in an international airport is to look for the balikbayan box.

5. Buy stamps.

I’ve been collecting stamps since I was a little girl, even if letter writing is now a lost art and the mailman is relegated to delivering mostly bills. If I have time, I’ll buy a postcard, write a quick note, lick a stamp, and send it to my family in the Philippines. If I’m pressed for time, I’ll just buy a few unused stamps for my collection.

Just a small part of my stamp collection. I've been collecting since I was 7.

Just a small part of my stamp collection. I’ve been collecting since I was 7.

What are your travel rituals, dear readers?

November 15, 2016


  1. I was already planning on that!! I’ll be travelling soon and this post is kind of a travel tip for me. But one thing i’ll never miss on my ritual would be buying pasalubong because maraming magtatampo! hahahaha ??

  2. Whenever I go to new places, it has been a routine to visit stores and check make up counters ? I agree that you could learn a lot on a country’s pop culture by just going to make up and beauty counters❣ I didn’t know you’re a stamp collector! I used to collect stationeries wayback in grade school when snail mails were super cool, like even if you’re just going to send it to you neighborhood friends ??

  3. I love visiting corner coffee shops too! My travel ritual can be summed up to 1.Buying spices/herbs/ingredients unique to the place (because I love cooking), 2. Eating at the top rated/popular places which showcases local delicacies and of course the pasalubongs.

  4. Kate wrote:

    Thanks for sharing, girls!

  5. Rhen wrote:

    I always make sure to try the place’s famous dishes and buy pasalubong for family and friends! I think pasalubong will always be a part of everyone’s trip! haha For some reason, I also find myself visiting churches! There’s something about the architecture and its history that attracts me.

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