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.
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.
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.
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.
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.