Frequently Asked Question: When were you first bit by the travel bug?
It all started with a part-time job selling shoes during my high school years …
When I was hired as a sales associate at Aldo Shoes, my 15-almost-16-year-old self was ecstatic! I had a really cool boss, I got to talk about fashion and personal style all day, and I got a sweet discount on the latest footwear styles and accessories (a crucial perk when the 5 minute walk from Calculus to Biology at school was – in my mind – a runway). But I never would’ve thought that joining the company would lead me to my first big girl trip to the Caribbean!
When you work with Aldo as a sales associate, you’re entered into an incentive program called Club Elite. Basically, if you work hard and beat all your targets for an entire year, it pays off in the form of an all-inclusive vacation to a tropical destination and an awards ceremony at the company head office in Montreal, Canada. Most people would scoff at the idea of such a program, thinking it’s impossible to win since there were only 88 winners selected worldwide. Luckily, I was young and naive and ready to take on the world because I knew that a free vacay was exactly what I wanted.
Like I said, I loved my job. I would come to the store on the weekends and after school on the evenings and bust my ass to get people what they needed. Besides having more financial freedom than most kids my age, I was gaining valuable experience at my sales job. I learned very quickly that consistency was *DJ Khaled voice* major key to success.
Excellence really is a habit.
Day in, day out, I honed my sales skills.
But I didn’t put in the extra effort because I would make more money, but because I genuinely cared about people and their concerns.
I greeted everyone who came into the store, not because I would have a higher conversion rate, but because it was one less awful customer service experience for them.
I always suggested shoe care, not because it increased my units per transaction, but because I wanted to make sure people took care of their investments.
I offered to deliver shoes to a customer’s home, not because it contributed to my overall sales target, but because I saw no point in depriving people of an item they loved just because our store didn’t have it in their size or colour or for some other stupid reason.
I learned how to read body language. I learned about the psychology behind why people buy the things they do. I learned how to overcome objections.
You know when celebrities go to the Grammys or the Oscars or whatever and win some sort of trophy and get all teary-eyed because they “didn’t really expect this!!!”
Yeah, I can’t relate. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I knew I had won, because I would keep track of my progress and made sure that I was another day closer to my goal before I clocked out every night.
One day, I received a letter saying that I had done exactly what I had set out to do.
At 17 years old, I became the youngest member of Club Elite 2013.
Now there were a lot of things I was afraid of at 17. Bugs. The dark. Trigonometry.
Flying out on my own for the first time happened to be on that list, too. I remember thinking,
“What if I miss my flight? Did I pack enough outfits? What do people even pack for a trip to the Caribbean? Oh my god, I don’t remember a word of French from school – how will I get by in Montreal?”
I almost talked myself out of a trip of a lifetime. But I’m so glad I didn’t, because I wouldn’t have had the guts to go on my other trip-of-a-lifetime’s.
My time in Montreal was short, but sweet. I got to try a *REAL* Montreal bagel. Meeting the CEO and other senior directors of the company was so inspiring! I got to ask them about what they actually do for a living and it was then that I decided I wanted to travel and discover fashion trends around the world the way they did.
On top of discovering what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I also discovered the less glamorous side of traveling when I went to St. Maarten for a week.
By “less glamorous”, I mean waking up at 3 am to go to the airport, only to be greeted with long lineups. Currency exchanges. Motion sickness, on land and on the water. Finding your way back to your hotel after a night out of drinking. Sunburn. Figuring out how to dial international phone numbers. Language barriers. Witnessing a level of poverty I wasn’t exposed to since I had left the Philippines.
And yet, I still loved every second of my experience. The other Club Elite members from around the world I had established a connection with kept me afloat during the tough times.
The positive experiences from traveling on my own for the first time far outweighed the negative experiences. I mean, I really can’t complain when I was going on a new adventure every single day. I made friends from around the world who I’m still in touch with today. We would wake up, go boating, then scuba diving, and finish the day at a fancy dinner wearing fabulous outfits. All while picking up bits and pieces of the local language and culture. I wasn’t the same person when I got home after my Club Elite trip. I was still young and naive, but I had a much better understanding of people and the world we live in.
All thanks to a part-time job selling shoes in high school.
… And that’s the story of how I was first bit by the travel bug! (Wow, I can’t believe you read all of that, lol)
In retrospect, I should have started this blog back then, but I want to thank you for reading Lulu Meets World anyways! My dream is to keep traveling the world forever and work on my passion project so I can share my stories with you.
And I’m going to make sure to live my dream.
Because I really can’t imagine doing anything else.
P. S. – My internship in Mumbai got extended! Read more about being an expat here!