Why I Travel

On this day five years ago, my father passed away tragically and unexpectedly. He was a few months shy of his fiftieth birthday. Now, loss affects every person differently. There are those who go numb and then are those who love more fiercely. For myself, it made me much more of a sentimentalist than I already am. In the wake of my father’s unexpected death, I committed myself to excavating the family archives and the deep recesses of my subconscious to reclaim every single moment we had together. I spent days playing back my fondest memories of him. In my bouts of nostalgia, it seemed the thing I miss most about my father was his love of the world.

why i travel

Every traveler has their own unique set of motivations for wanting to go out and adventure. When I was a child, my dad promised me the world and he delivered. By working in the airline industry, he afforded us opportunities most only dream about. Spontaneous weekend getaways to Rome and Paris. Frequent trips back to the Philippines to see our loved ones. Our school textbooks would come alive when our dad would organize trips for us to Greece to see the Parthenon or Mexico to see Mayan ruins. I had my first bite of sushi from a Tokyo vending machine. I rode my first horse through the Grand Canyon. My first taste of public transportation that I can recall was riding through the canals in Amsterdam by boat. It was a surreal upbringing and one of great privilege. But that privilege was not based off of wealth or success. It was attained by a man who left the comforts of his home and country to work day in-and-out  just to so he could give the world to his family.

why i travel

My bedtime stories were comprised of the most beautiful sentiments. He would regale me with all the places we would go together — what we would see, do, and eat. And like a dream come true, I would find my bedtime stories actualized in whirlwind escapades. The trip that stands out the most to me was a layover in Rome when I was nine. The twelve-hour expanse of time is mostly a blur but what I do remember is my dad’s frenetic need that we get to a certain somewhere. That certain somewhere, in the chill dampness of a March evening, was none other than the Trevi Fountain. In the small palm of my hand, he lovingly placed three coins and said, “This is so you’ll one day come back. Make a wish.” That was my dad, always looking out for my best interests. A few months after he passed away, I ended up returning to Italy for a four-month long study abroad… just as my dad had ensured would happen all those years ago.

why i travel

I pick apart the very footsteps of my own journey and like looking into a mirror, I see two human beings living out parallel lives. Did he know that in the years of his absence, his own daughter, who was raised on his curious tales, would follow the same path of expatriatism he carried out? The tales, I’ve come to realize, were very much romanticized. Being the intrepid soul he was, my dad made living life as a free-spirit seem so effortless. Now experiencing it for myself, I only wish I could have his guidance whisper bravery into my heart once more. There are days where I mull over my life decisions: how they seem so reckless, too carefree. What it would be like to live without this restlessness. But I guess when you are offered the world from the get-go, everything pales in comparison.

why i travel

He transformed every mundane act into a worldly experience. A simple lesson in road-tripping involved a border crossing into Canada to satisfy a craving for authentic poutine. By authentic, I mean Montreal. When we lived in the Philippines, he took us out to rollerblade on an airport runway (it was closed for the evening). Along the sides of the airstrip were grazing water buffalos, whose owner let us ride bareback with our rollerblades still on (it remains one of my favorite pictures). My sisters and I once asked for a bonding trip and each received a one-way ticket to Guatemala City with a return ticket back to Boston out of Cancun. We had ten days to get from point A to point B without any assistance from the parentals, like our own mini amazing race. With my dad, every day was filled with discovery.

why i travel

Flash forward to today. May 22, 2016. After five years of journeying through the stages of grief — shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression — I have finally arrived at a point of acceptance. But its not necessarily acceptance, as it is, hope. In spite of an untimely end, I can finally see clearly the inspiring legacy of an individual whose primarily goal was to live fully and happily. There are many of us who were inspirited by his wanderlust. In his world, each day was a well of endless possibility. I can see it in the pictures; those smiling eyes tell a story of pure joy. In his travels, my dad was untroubled, optimistic, and free. Despite the burdens he carried, he felt most at peace surrounded by the world-at-large. My dad painted the world as a portrait of love, full of endless wonder and of goodness. I now comfort myself that in every place I visit, my dad will be there, waiting for me, with open arms. This is why I travel, and why I will continue to do so.  For as much as my mother keeps me rooted, it is my father who is the wind beneath my wings.

why i travel



Millette Pulido is a Bay Area-based, Boston-bred Filipina who loves to vagabond. At 29, the former expat has traded in her nomadic ways for a semi-grounded life in San Jose, CA. These days, she's focusing on balancing travel with a full-time job, all while planning her 2019 destination wedding in Oaxaca, Mexico. She lives for good times, good food, and good peeps. Find out her #wheretonext on Instagram @thenextsomewhere.


  1. Hanani

    23 May

    I get teary-eyed just by reading your post, Izzy. Beautiful post indeed. I guess you took after your late father – your passion for travel and writing et al. I’m sure he’s very proud of you, wherever he is now 🙂
    I love the da Vinci quote you posted. For the last 7-ish years I’ve been employed in the aviation industry. And now, I long to go back.

  2. Gina

    23 May

    This was such a tear jerker. Your dad lived such a beautiful and inspirational life–a life that you are striving for. He would definitely want you to be happy and I think he’s looking down on you from heaven and smiling.

  3. Kellie

    23 May

    Wow, just wow to that writing and to your beautiful soul that was created by another equally unique, selfless and incredible guy 🙂 xxx

  4. Susanne

    23 May

    I love this, thank you for sharing it with us! Your Dad sounds like a great man. My travels are inspired by the death of a family member as well. I always wanted to write about it, but never got around to actually do it. Your post encouraged me to tell my story. Thank you!

    I too believe, that your father is watching over you from high above. He did a great job raising you 🙂

  5. Katie

    24 May

    Well, damn. It produced just about every emotion in me, very well written. It took you 5 years to come to some form of acceptance over his untimely death, and though I don’t know you, I’m happy that you made it to where you are. Sounds like you are doing whatever you can to somewhat follow in his footsteps. To live the life your father instilled in you. Fantastic final sentences as well.

  6. This post got me a little teary. I’m so sorry for your loss, but it looks like you had so many wonderful memories with your father. The spontaneous family vacations sounds so amazing. And I love that your family took so many vacation photos. I love looking at older photos. There is just some thing about it that is different from the photos we tend to take today.

  7. This post got me so choked up… I lost my Dad two years ago (he was in his early fifties) and it was just the most unimaginable pain. He was a late starter in traveling but we took so great trips together in Phuket, NYC and Washington DC. After he passed, I planned a trip to Cambodia where he had visited before. I was looking for some kind of peace and although I realized that you never really get past it, it was a very spiritual trip. I am so glad I could honor him that way. Thanks for sharing your personal story with us.

  8. What a beautiful post – your Dad sounds like an incredible and inspiring man. He would be so proud of your adventures. It takes a special man to transform every mundane act into a worldly experience.

  9. I love the way you did your graphics in this post! And of course this is so beautiful and pure, I loved reading this.

  10. Wow, what a beautiful and heartfelt piece. This was a moving read and made me realize I need to try harder to be a part of my parents lives before they are gone. I am sure your dad is somewhere beyond watching over you and very proud of what an incredible human being you are and following in his footsteps of travel. This was poetic and beautifully written.

  11. Kerri

    26 May

    Great article. I have such a close relationship with my family and can’t imagine my life without them. As a result I include them in so very much and was so proud to be able to take Mum and DAd on their first overseas trip in 2005 and again in 2009. Memories and good times that I shall always be thankful for.

  12. Wendy

    26 May

    When I first read the title, I thought it was again one of those lists. But, girl, your Dad lived a lasting impact on your lives. and what a great life. and what great gifts he has given to you and your sister. my dad also worked (retired now) in the airline industry but we weren’t given as much chance for travel as you had. he had different priorities lol. you’re lucky. you have so much to remember your dad with. and your life is just the greatest gift ever.

  13. Wow! This was an incredibly emotional post. Your father seemed like one hell of a guy…it’s amazing the impact some people can have on the world and the people around them. I find it incredibly inspiring that he lit the fire in you to travel and engage in new experiences. The way you wrote about your father in this post beautiful displays your love for him and the intertwined love for travel. I’m glad you have moved on to the acceptance stage, and there’s no doubt that your passion for traveling radiates through your father, who I’m sure would be beaming hearing you talk about him like this. Bravo, Izzy!

  14. Hung Thai

    27 May

    You said it: “legacy of an individual whose primarily goal was to live fully and happily.” That’s really all we can really strive for in life. Great post. Your dad raised you well, and those happy memories will live on – that’s how your dad lives on, too.

  15. Bailey K.

    27 May

    I’m so sorry about your dad, but he sounds like he was an amazing man, and such a great father! Traveling because of him is a great way to honor him, and also to carry on his legacy!

  16. Cassie

    27 May

    What a beautiful and touching piece! It’s wonderful that you can continue to carry him with you in your shared love of travel.

  17. What a heartfelt post, thank you for sharing a piece of your heart and bringing your readers closer to understanding who you are and your motivations in life. I would love to hear more about your “amazing race” trip from Guatemala to Cancun. What a wonderful and adventurous idea from your loving father, which I’m sure you and your siblings completed without a hickup. As I’ve heard before, parents role is not just to guide us through life but to give us all the resources in order for us to be independent in our own journey. I think your father did just that! Tear*

  18. I am so touched by this beautiful post filled with tribute to your wonderful dad. I am so sorry for your loss, and at such a young age. You are honouring his memory with everything you do and I am sure he is looking down with such pride at the woman you have become.

  19. GIRL. This was such a gorgeous tribute to a man clearly so loved and admired by you and the lives he touched. I think it’s important to take a step back and reflect on life as it were when they were here – all to often people try to “move on” as the days pass. Live each day with your father in mind and he will continue to watch over you and keep you a flight. This post is something that I’m sure not only helped you continue on with the grief, but made you smile as well. It will certainly help others who are in your same position. May your father Rest in Paradise and you continue to find solace in his passing. Big hugs, Izzy.

  20. Janelle

    31 May

    Thank you for sharing what’s inside your heart and mind. Your dad is my cousin; I mostly saw him before you and your siblings were born. It’s nice to hear about how he strived to give you the world. I’m glad he gave you so many great memories!

  21. That was a really lovely tribute to your dad. My mum passed away from cancer early last year when I was mid-travel. I came across the world to spend her last month with her. I only hope that one day I’ll be able to write a tribute as lovely as this for her. XoX

  22. Jessica

    11 July

    Nakakaiyak! Makes me miss my father. When are you going back to the philippines? I hope your travels will lead back to the country soon. Continue traveling with the purpose you are living for!

  23. Alex Datsev

    11 July

    What a touching and heartfelt article. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Claire

    11 July

    This is a beautiful and heart-wrenching story. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s early death. But he would be really proud of this story and of all your travels. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  25. Teodora

    11 July

    I had chills reading your post. Your dad was a truly amazing man, may he rest in piece! Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories, I imagine it wasn’t at all easy… And romanticizing is good in my opinion. Why not seeing life more beautiful and with a deeper purpose:)

  26. sher

    12 July

    oh i love how you made the photos have a vintage / post card type feel!


  27. Such a beautiful story. It’s good to hear that great things can be inspired by tragedy.

  28. Marge Gavan

    17 July

    This is such a wonderful tribute for your father. Made me miss my own father too, mine also died years ago. But he’s not really what you would call a traveler, but I remember him taking me whe he bikes around the city when he needs to buy something. Those are fond memories.

    I’m sure your father is proud of you and what you have become. Keep doing what you are doing to honor him.

  29. Kayla

    15 November

    This is so beautiful. Truly touching, and offers a unique perspective on the elements that make all of us who we are.

  30. Izzy, your dad sounds like such an amazing man. It’s clear from your stories about him that he wanted to pass on his love for life to you, and based off of every other post of yours I’ve read, I’d say he succeeded. He would be very proud of you!

  31. Martin

    18 November

    Nice memories! I especially like the picture with you guys in the snow 🙂

    • Izzy Pulido

      19 November

      Awww, thank you for taking the time to read this! This is one of my favorite photos of my dad and I!

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