Traveling is so fun! You can go to new places and have all experiences. Aside from experiences totreasure and learn from. You can also connect to different people traveling from one spot to another.
Felix Axalan, a traveler shares her experiences, hacks and saving tips when it comes to travel. And at the age of 26, she already traveled 50 countries!
What do you do for work?I used to be really into video games, so much so that I made a career out of it. I joined a Korean gaming company, and I stayed with them for six months. At first, it was really fantastic because I got to play all of our competitors’ games for free. But after a while, parang nabobo ako. I asked my mom if I could try working for the family; we’re tour operators or travel wholesalers. For the first three months, I was super depressed. I was young! I couldn’t handle the stress. I couldn’t handle the clients. I was so used to the virtual world that talking to clients face to face was really daunting for me. My colleagues told me to hang in there, and I’m so glad I did.What exactly do you do as a tour operator?As tour operators, we cater to the needs of travel agencies. Travel agencies sell you travel packages, but we arrange those packages. We design them—from setting dates to getting contracted rates for all the services. Our main goal is to help small travel agencies grow. Eventually, when they do grow, they decide to work directly with suppliers. We’re proud of that. Our most important job is to make traveling affordable for Filipinos. That requires a lot of research. When I handle corporate accounts that go abroad, they have very specific requirements. I have to meet up with CEOs and I have to know what to tell them. Because it is so much research, I travel a lot for work, just so I know what it’s really like out there. I tend to suggest places I’ve never been to so that if I win the bid, I’ll be the one going there as a tour leader. Another number for the country count!What does it take to be a tour leader?If you’re a fresh grad, you need to work for two years to familiarize yourself with the operations and the clients. But in the travel industry, most people start off as reservations officers. The normal starting salary for that is P15,000, but you can get up to P30,000 with travel benefits. Every time I post on social media, it’s curated, so most people don’t know what I have to do for the job. It’s really not for everyone. For example, during a trip to Japan, my colleague and I had to buy 90 packed lunches for people stuck at the airport. With the language barrier, it was a real struggle. Carrying 90 lunches, we had to walk 15 minutes to the hotel, and it was the longest walk of my life! Because the clients were all at the airport, we had to figure out a way to bring them all the food. And as if that wasn’t difficult enough, I had to stay back to make arrangements for the conference, so I emptied my suitcase, dumped the lunches in there, and sent my colleague to the airport. You have to be excellent at making fast and smart decisions. You have to keep your mind rolling. You have to consider all possible solutions. The job isn’t just about traveling for free.Have you tried doing something else since you became a tour leader?Kind of. I moved to Hungary for ten months just to try something else. That didn’t work out quite like I had hoped, but it taught me a lot about business and dealing with other cultures and markets. To clarify, I worked for a traveling company, too. I was a tour operator and I had to deal with Southeast Asian markets going to Europe, but at the time, I was doing everything—sales, operations, product management. My western colleagues had work-life balance, and I was the one who was always on-call. They wanted me to deal with all the emergencies!