Before Instagram became what it is today, Angely Dub was already posting travel photos that would attract likes. Today, she has traveled to over 100 countries and grown her community to almost 300,000 followers.
I first met Angely Dub a year ago in Bhutan over dinner. I asked her, "What brought you here, traveling solo?" She replied, "I'm here to check out a travel expedition I'm running for Access Travel next year."
Access Travel is a travel agency she started building at 19 years old; now, she's 32. After two years of no clients, Angely felt the pulse of revenge travel in 2022 and she knew it was here to stay.
We were in a nondescript hotel that took me about two hours to get to. When I asked, "Why this hotel?" she must've noticed my confusion. "I like to choose locally owned places, not your typical hotel chains” she explained. “Because I want people to travel authentically."
Her choice of hotel was an example of her travel philosophy: authentic travel experiences. Recently, for World Tourism Day (Sept. 27), I spoke to her about her entrepreneurial journey in the travel industry and that dinner we had last year.
From front-desk intern to entrepreneur
It's a clichéd question to ask children, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
But Angely still remembers her exact response: "I want to travel the world, but I don't know how."
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At 13, she lost her dad and was solely raised by her mom. Because of this, she became fiercely independent. At 16, she interned in the US as a front-desk agent. “Sobrang love ako ng mga guest ko,” she shared. “I would get $200 tips. At that age, I learned how to care for my money."
While interning, she noticed that guests were looking for soap for the washing machine in the hotel. So this became her first side hustle and just one of the many businesses Angely has started. She added, “I also knew early on how to make money.”
How she made travel her trade
At 19, she started her travel agency, Access Travel. She began as a one-woman show, sharing social media content, answering travel itinerary queries and booking it for her clients. If you scroll through her TikTok and Instagram, you'll see curated photos of dreamy landscapes and unfiltered videos of what it's like to travel from business-class seats to coffee-making classes.
She said, "I check out every itinerary I recommend. I never want to Google an experience for a client."
Just look at Access Travel's roster of clients. You'll see celebrities such as Julia Baretto, Jodi Sta. Maria, Dimples Romana, Toni Gonzaga-Soriano, Dingdong Dantes, and Nadine Lustre. "How did that happen?" I asked her.
It took a lot of work; she decided to take a risk after being fooled by her first business partner. She said, "After losing almost everything, I used my last money to contact Laureen Uy, a blogger then, to send her to Malaysia. After that, Access Travel exploded." Her first marketing experiment in the era of bloggers paid off.
Even during the pause of travel during the pandemic, Angely kept thinking of new business ideas. She started Bulilit Kitchen, a business selling isaw when people craved delivery food at home.
Then she opened Happi Lab, a brand selling kombucha for the health-obsessed. She also decided to move to Madrid and take her master's in Customer Experience and Innovation at IE Business School.
Next on her agenda? Exploring the Philippines
In 12 years of Access Travel, a common question she gets is, "Why is the Philippines not included in any expeditions?"
She said this move was intentional: "I wanted the Philippines to be separate. The Philippines is my home, where I was born and raised. It needs its spotlight."
In Madrid, she came up with Explora Ahora, a love letter to Philippine tourism. In Spanish, it means "Explore now." Explora Ahora is a travel company spotlighting Philippine travel experiences for foreigners and locals.
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"I researched how Thailand approached tourism. It was all about their food and culture," she says. “Traveling to more than 100 countries, there's nothing like Philippine hospitality. Filipinos are not shy, from your jeepney driver to hospitality staff. They are also very kind and welcoming and can speak English."
With Explora Ahora, Angely wants Filipinos and foreigners to discover unexplored experiences, from faith healing in Siquijor to cooking classes in Sagada to a photography class in Mount Apo. She said, "Sure, we have beautiful beaches. But it's beyond that. It's about the traveler's interests and giving them expeditions outside a resort hotel.
"Let's say you go to Siargao,” she continues. “A local family there will be your tour guide. The dad would be the surf teacher. And the mom would be the cooking teacher."
Beyond the local experiences, “I also want it to be seamless for foreigners too, that they can pay online. I feel like the future of travel is hyperlocal and e-commerce.
"Traveling is sacred for me,” she continues. “I do it for work. My purpose is to travel and help people travel."
Talking to Angely, it's easy to get the travel bug. After our conversation, she gave me a self-published children's book, Meet The World. The cover was of an elephant sitting on top of the world; the pages were written to inspire children to be more adventurous. But it's more than a children’s book sharing her trips; Angely’s story encourages us to take a chance on our travels and life.