Travel, nomads, Central Asia and Philippines elections: an interview with Daniel Forteza from

Hello readers, this time I have for you a pretty interesting interview with Daniel Forteza, a fellow traveler, blogger ( and, like myself, couchsurfer.

It’s been some time since a published an interview and the reasons are simple and boring at the same time. Work, COVID, being lazy, people not answering… Luckily at this round, Daniel was so kind as to answer my questions pretty quickly and in detail.

So, without further ado let’s dive into Daniel’s experiences and travels. including one particular travel that I really envy, the one to the -stan states of central Asia.

1 – Hi Daniel, it’s a pleasure to have you here. I followed your social media, in particular your IG profile iamdantravels, for some time but still, it would be nice if you can give us a little bit of an introduction of yourself.

Hi Andrea, the pleasure is mine. Sure! Having Daniel as my name, Dan is my nickname. I just turned 32 this month. I am a Mechanical Engineering graduate. Worked in that field for more than 7 years then quit my full-time day job to travel. It was in the middle of 2019 when I left the Philippines, my home country, to start this long-term travel. And even until now, I am still living abroad. Due to the pandemic situation at the start of 2020, I’ve lived the last two years in Thailand, moving from one place to another.

That being said, I love traveling and immersing myself in different cultures. I am left-handed. I love geography and love listening to pop and RnB songs of the early 2000s.

I wasn’t born wealthy in case you guys are wondering. I grew up in the Philippines in a rural area near the sea. My dad is a simple farmer/fisherman while my mom is a usual housekeeper.

2 – First of all, that’s a matter of personal interest to me. I want to ask you how much courage it takes to leave your full-time job and start traveling/working remotely.

It takes a LOT of courage to do that. I remember the time I sent that resignation email, my hands are shaking. Colleagues would usually ask me ‘which company are you working for next?’ or ‘how much is the offer in the company you’re going to work for?’ because, you see, it’s not common that people would quit their job just to do something different in their life and travel. But it felt so good going for that path people aren’t expecting you’d go for.

Me in Phitsanulok, Thailand 2022
Daniel Forteza in Phitsanulok, Thailand 2022. Instagram profile iamdantravels

3 – Before we immerse ourselves in travel and travel-related themes, I have to ask your opinion regarding the result of the Philippines elections. As an Italian, I was always laughed at about our political situation so I can understand your frustration and anger about the recent results. What’s your view on the situation? how did it happen?

I am one of those people who is favoring the ‘pink’ candidate — VP Robredo. I was grieving when the numbers aren’t going in my candidate’s favor a few hours after the election. Even now, thinking about it still hurts. Because it is supposed to be an easy choice!

If you were to choose between two candidates — one with no taint of corruption and has good credentials to run the country or the one who is a convicted tax evader, doesn’t attend the big debates, faked his degree, doesn’t acknowledge the human right violations during the Martial law years in the country… it’s an easy one! So the election result is really disappointing!

My take on why this happened is mostly because he (Marcos Jr.) has big machineries where he has big people peddling fake news and disseminating wrong information through big platforms like TikTok and YouTube!

4 – I want to ask you something regarding the fact that we may like to think of travel as something totally devoid of any discrimination, the total freedom with no race, gender, or religious distinction, at least as long as you have money. Reading about the travel experiences of non-European or non-US travelers made me think that our passion, traveling, is sometimes a complicated pursuit for some African, Asian, Middle East, or even South American people. What do you think about it? Do you think there’s a difference, maybe only even passport-related or bureaucratic?

I wouldn’t say that there is discrimination. Your gender or your age or your religious affiliation has nothing to do with it although men and younger people tend to be more un-worrisome to travel especially when doing it alone. But I do agree with the fact that you need to have at least enough ‘money’ to suffice your needs when traveling. And I guess this also accounts for where you came from.

Dainel Forteza in Giza, Egypt, 2019
Daniel Forteza in Giza, Egypt, 2019

People from rich countries are able to travel more because of how strong their passports are. I do get envy every time I think about it because I only hold a third-world passport (as they call it). I just hope that those people are aware that we exist and should acknowledge the fact they are privileged enough in terms of traveling abroad.

5 – Let’s talk about coronavirus. It changed my plans, your plans, and the plans of millions of other people, and I’m not talking of travel plans, not only at least. What did the coronavirus mean to you? Was it totally negative or you have some good experiences because of it?

I was in Egypt when the covid-19 pandemic started to cause borders to shut down and flights to be canceled. So I can’t help but talk about my travel plans. My plan after Egypt was to fly to Morocco which obviously didn’t happen. Instead, I changed my course to Thailand! That’s the only flight I found going to Southeast Asia (even my home country, the Philippines has already closed its borders) at that time. And here I am, I’ve been here for more than two years now. And I am so grateful the pandemic has got me here.

I would say that I have way more good experiences here in Thailand rather than the opposite. The bottom line is, Im happy of where this has gotten me. So for me, the pandemic was here to test us, to test how strong we are physically and mentally, and to test how flexible we are in terms of a need to ‘change’. But I can’t speak for everyone! Everyone has their own take on it. And I am sorry for those people who lost their loved ones fighting from the covid disease.

Daniel Forteza in his host apartment via Couchsurfing in Astana, Kazakhstan 2019
Daniel Forteza in his host apartment via Couchsurfing in Astana, Kazakhstan 2019

6 – The digital nomad lifestyle. First, do you consider yourself a digital nomad? Do you like the term?
Secondly, do you really think it’s a viable option and you can earn an income while traveling indefinitely without having money coming from, I don’t know, rent or your parents? If so do you have any tips for us?

I don’t consider myself a digital nomad now. I am a nomad in my own rights but because I am not mainly getting my income right from online jobs, I am not. And I don’t have any issues calling it ‘digital nomad’. 

Working remotely as what digital nomads are doing is always possible. You just need to have the right set of skills to vouch for yourself for a remote job. I think working remotely or from home is more feasible now since during the pandemic most of us went from working at an office to working from home.

Unfortunately, passive income is not for everyone. That kind of income is when you earn while not actually working. Unless you have cemented yourself as a blogger/vlogger/online marketer (or the likes). I believe that is what you are referring to, which is harder to achieve for a digital nomad. And that would require planning on how to do it and the need to really work hard for it. But then again, working remotely is always possible. 

Macchu Picchu, Peru 2018
Machu Picchu, Peru 2018

7 – What do you think about social media and traveling? Do you think that social media has a negative impact on the people who travel? Or simply that things change and we are not in ‘80 anymore?

We need to embrace the change, but also limit those kinds of change if it won’t benefit us or won’t do good at all.

I myself had my Facebook account since 2010 but started to use it less and less. Facebook can be really toxic these days and the amount of fake news out there can be overwhelming. But what I like about Facebook is its group feature. I had used it several times when asking for travel-related questions whenever I am backpacking. Instagram, on the other hand, is my travel diary, and won’t give it up anytime soon!

8 – Is there something that you think is particularly important that you learned while traveling?

The phone is really important and a phone with internet is much more important. For example, my Google maps and Compass app is a savior! It prevents me from getting lost. Google Translate app helps me talk to the local people I’m around (provided that I don’t understand their language). Couchsurfing or other apps that let you see who’s nearby are great ways to meet people in your area. And don’t get me started with Google, a simple googling can get you miles and miles ahead.

PS: Don’t forget to also bring your power banks!

9 – Let’s move specifically to travel experiences. I’m really curious about Central Asia. I’m fascinated by the -stan states and I see you have been there. How was traveling in that area of the world?

This was the travel that I wouldn’t forget in my entire life. Iran and those Central Asian countries have the friendliest people ever, I’m telling you. I’m not sure if this is worth mentioning but they are also very good-looking! Haha!

Anyhow, I had the best times there. I went on hiking on a snowy mountain in Kazakhstan. Met people in all –stan countries I’ve been through the Couchsurfing app and stayed over for a few nights using that app as well. The weather was a bit harsh considering I went there between October and November but nevertheless, the people’s warm hospitality paid off. 

Astana (now NurSultan), Kazakhstan 2019
Astana (now Nur Sultan), Kazakhstan 2019

10 – Do you have any anecdotes about your travels that you think are interesting or particularly funny?

I went looking for a good funny story to share from my Instagram feed and found this one dated October 20, 2019. This travel encounter happens in Astana, Kazakhstan:

How embarrassing.

I didn’t pay for the bus fare on my way to downtown Astana (a.k.a. NurSultan) from the airport. Because I only have 10,000 KZT (highest banknote denomination in Kazakhstan) cash with me, the bus driver refused to accept my payment as he has no change to give back.

When the bus stops at my preferred location, I just simply exited the bus door alongside others as if I have no payment issue. I hope the Kazakh authorities don’t arrest me.

Me meeting some friendly Iranians via Couchsurfing 2019
Daniel meeting some friendly Iranians via Couchsurfing 2019

11 – Now the difficult question. 3 places that you think everyone must see

  1. Machu Picchu, Peru (hike the Huayna Picchu as well)
  2. Tehran, Iran (meet the friendliest people on earth and explore the city with their subways, it’s so cheap!)
  3. Tokyo, Japan (a megacity that everyone should discover in their lifetime!)
Daniel and his friend Hayato in Tokyo, Japan 2018
Daniel and his friend Hayato in Tokyo, Japan 2018

The interview with Daniel Forteza is finished, if you want to continue reading something else I have a few suggestions:

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