Kate Was Here's traveling office. Here I am chilling at The Travel Bug's lounging area.

What Are Your Travel Rituals?

I’m not talking about your itineraries or packing habits. Whether you prefer traveling solo or with a group, have you noticed that you’ve developed personal rituals whenever you visit a new destination? These are mine:

1. Browse the local magazines.
As a lifestyle journalist, I always drop by newspaper and magazine stands to see the cover stars, trends, hot topics, and how editors have evolved with their blurbs. I buy at least one magazine from every new country I visit, even if I don’t understand their language. Most people say that print is dead, but those of us who have experienced the heyday of print media will argue that it still holds power.

I write for Cosmo Philippines, so my friend J from Europe sent me these Cosmopolitan Magazines from (L-R) Spain, Italy, Germany, and France as a thoughtful gift.

2. Explore the local beauty stores.
You can tell a lot about the country’s beauty standards by visiting their pharmacies, skincare shops, and makeup counters. I enjoy observing how the locals apply makeup and how beauty products are advertised. In most Asian countries, whitening products sadly still dominate the shelves, while it’s all about tanning lotions in the USA. In Korea, I noticed that they don’t really like contour and blush kits, but have an extensive selection of facial mask sheets, BB creams, and black eyeliner. In Paris, I love how French women effortlessly pull off smokey eyes.

My jaw dropped when I first stepped into Galeries Lafayette in Paris. The ground floor is dedicated to skincare and makeup brands.

The Allure of French Pharmacies

3. Explore the coffee shop culture.
After days of walking around the city, I take a day off and sit for hours at a local café—preferably not a coffee chain. Sorry, Starbucks! I still love your iced mocha, but not when I’m traveling. I try to avoid franchise establishments that we already have back home. Hole-in-the-wall and mom-and-pop shops have a more local vibe. I get a lot of writing done in quaint coffee shops. I also purchase bags of local roasts to bring back to the Philippines.

Boan 84 in Taipei, Taiwan (2019)

4. Buy pasalubong.
This is the innate Filipino trait I have. Pasalubong are souvenirs Pinoys give to loved ones upon returning home from a trip. I can’t help but buy oodles of souvenirs—mostly for myself. I allot a whole day just for pasalubong shopping. I also haggle and bargain well—another Asian trait I’m proud of.

My Love-Hate Relationship with the Balikbayan Box

5. Mail postcards.

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. I go out of my way to buy a postcard, write a quick note, lick a stamp, and mail it to myself in the Philippines. When I collect enough postcards, I plan to bind them into a book. More on that later.

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

Mail Yourself a Wooden Postcard From Taiwan

What are your travel rituals?

Date posted: November 15, 2016
Updated: March 18, 2018
Updated: July 20, 2020


  1. hehe i’m guilty when it comes to those franchise chains. It’s part of my ritual to visit some franchise chains abroad to check or try something different on their menu na wala sa Pinas, just like the Mcdo strawberry pie in China and Mcdo Taro pie in Thailand hehe. But its definitely part of my travel ritual to try the country’s delicacies and famous food places for the locals.

  2. I can relate on the part where you said that “I try to avoid franchise establishments that we already have back home.” I also do this. Whenever I go to Manila, me and my sister always go to SM North and when it’s time to eat I always suggest to try a different franchise so that I can experience a different specialty! Thankfully, she grants my request. But not all the time. Lol

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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 ??

  6. 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 ??

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