It’s summer allover South East Asia and in the Philippines whose coastline running from North to South, West to East the nearby beach resort is bustling with local tourist as well as foreign guests cashing in on the pristine white sand, surf and sun. Our Island and some of its pristine landscape graced the top travel guide as a tourism destination comparable to neighboring countries like Bali in Indonesia, Phuket in Thailand, Langkawi in Malaysia, Phu Quoc in Vietnam.

But what are the underlying factors, reasons and preparations that you need to know or Do, when you finally decided to pack your bag and travel? Some people would say it’s the experience, other culture embarked on it due to retirement, while majority will come-out with a more pragmatic and realistic thought it’s all about budget. Since not all are privy to travel internationally however, there might be some cracks that can be comforting enough for that budget conscious people who wishes to see and travel abroad even for once.

Travel 101 - Where to go

Where Do You Want To Go?

Identify your destination, make a self-assessment on what you really wanted to experience or to gain from this trip, I call it selfish yet holistic approach from your inner self. Let’s be realistic if you can’t afford to travel to Europe why punish yourself and waste time dreaming. If your friends posted an Instagram about their recent trip to Las Vegas maybe you can settle with Macau. The social media have brought some real monster of envy which can be destructive if you cannot contain your emotions.

Setting aside all your ego, just to outdone your friends is not something you would consider when you travel. Maybe try to consider giving yourself a reprieve away from any work related stress and have adventure. Treat your special someone away for few days to rekindle your romance. Put it this way regardless of where you travel nowadays mostly of the people have this concept of sharing it in online to get the attention. But you will be surprised not everybody are the same.

In the novel written by the American author, Elizabeth Gilbert Eat, Pray, Love the leading character is soul searching maybe your one of them but on a budget travel scenario.

Travel 101 - Budget crunch

Budget Crunch

Even the most affluent travelers are conscious about costs life is hard now-a-days. Unless you saved tons of money and willing to spend a fortune in your once in a lifetime experience. You don’t need to be broke nor spend too much to have fun either within your backyard let say Boracay Island or few days get away in Hong Kong or Maldives.

Once you’ve decided your destination as a rule of thumb, check the visa requirements. What are your passport limitation in terms of reciprocity rules? Visa is one costs you need to factor aside from the lengthy application processes. Unless you hold a dual citizenship which in effect allowed you more visa free privileges specially those G7 countries. It’s a reality that third world passport holder most of the time are scrutinized visiting more developed countries. There are restrictions due to influx of illegal migrants. Don’t misconstrued it as an act of discrimination but a security reason. Visa depends on your passport and country of destination collects between US$25 – US$150 single or multiple entry you have options to have a visa upon arrival or paste on your passport from the Consulate or Embassy of your host country.

If you’re lucky to choose a destination with free visa you have a more realistic chances of getting to your dream adventure. The next steps are booking your flight and accommodation.

Read: List of Visa free countries for Filipinos

Based on my experience budget airlines are sometimes overrated, it’s all business and sometimes doesn’t make sense so be aware of the seasonality, the promotions offered, the inflight meals, insurance coverage, Air mileage and luggage allowance.

If travelling long-haul flights check the inflight entertainment, layover schedule and time zone differences. Budget airlines like Jetstar owned by Qantas Group offers good deal, Cebu Pacific, TigerAir, AirAsia are also no-frills budget airline if midnight flight is not an issue. Sometimes Philippine Airlines is way cheaper if you compute the meals and luggage allowance. Return flight within South East Asia can costs US$250 – US$800.00 return economy class and US$10-US$20 excess luggage fees.

Try to consider the chances for cancellation if refund is applicable you might regret it as well if you’ve decided to cancel a booking for some reasons. Some budget airlines don’t refund at all but give you credits for future rebooking net of charges within few days.

Always get a separate travel insurance with emergency or repatriation coverage it is a must specially if you plan to venture in remote areas where drinking water can be unsafe. Some travel insurance coverage can cost you extra US$10 for the duration of a week trip.

Let say you’ve finally booked your flight it’s all done and dusted, but hold your horses, even you got a cheaper fare booked you still need a place to stay. This is one tricky part traveling without the help of a travel agent.

Agoda is one leading internet portal for hotel accommodation even for last minute bookings. Hotel room nights are bargain and booking is quick. Synchronized accommodation against your flight estimated time of arrival and departure, you don’t want to sleep on the street, unless you have relatives willing to give you free board and lodging complimented by free meals. If that’s the case your one lucky traveler.

If you’re planning inter-state or provincial tours in between your accommodation, you need to block ahead your room nights, always be aware that hotels have check-in and check-out time, some hotel give special rate for longer stay even it’s not continuous stay subject to its availability, you can always leave your belongings in their concierge. Unless you want to pay a room emptied overnight, it will cost extra more. Average room nights for a 2 to 4 star depends on host country can cost between US$25 – US$120. If you fancied 5-star service expect to pay at least US$180++ minimum or more a night depends on the season.

Another online portal is AirBnB it’s a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodation around the world.

Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences. According to their website you can search accommodation in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries. This is alternative accommodation abroad while traveling, wherein owners of a flat or room or their own home is willing to share for a fee. I think this is a good deal and another wonderful experience to have.

Things to take note when booking online accommodations, does it includes pick-up services? since mostly of the airport might be located kilometers away from your hotel, remember the pricing of room nights most of the time depends on its proximity to major tourist spot or convenience to downtown core.

Don’t jump up and down for getting a cheap deal in accommodation but spending time commuting or overcharged taxi fare just to get from point A to point B it’s another nightmare, you don’t want to waste time.

If no free airport transfer, expect to spend at least US$20-US$50 minimum for a taxi fare unless the host country like Singapore or Vancouver have one of the best public train in the world connected from their airport to downtown.

Bring with you UBER or GRAB Apps if its available in your host country, but be aware of the roaming charges on your smartphone. Telecommunication is important as well while traveling, check the tariff rates, their hotspots or get a new simcard its always available at the airport.

While still checking accommodations, ask the following questions like, Do they serve breakfast? If brekkie is important meal of the day for you and your accommodation doesn’t include it, you need to have an option.

Do they allow pets? Smoking room? Free Wi-Fi connection? Maximum allowed in a room? Where is the nearest emergency hospital or your country embassy location? Any seasoned traveler factor these while in foreign land. I know somebody who lost his passport while in London getting a temporary passport to return to Canada is a spoiler, always travel safe, smart and do your research.

Travel 101 - Destination

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Now were getting nearer, Passport with visa checked, flight and accommodation checked, your almost ready but not quite yet. One thing with do-it-yourself itinerary is your freedom to tailor fit your personal plans in a more personal level meaning at your own paced. Once you arrived at your destination and ready to explore the city icon, the scenic view, enjoy the sound, food, culture. Immersed yourself in the beauty of the local people. Unless you hired a tour guide or booked ahead of time for group tours which is readily available in your hotel, you can always plan ahead cheaper and cost effective.

Travel 101 - Leaving on a jet plane

Other first time travelers would join packaged tours all made-up but some find it boring and restricting because you need to wake up too early or tours can be a ripped off. Again, this can be another deal breaker, local tours can sometimes costlier than your room nights. An average of US$15-US$150 depends on what do you want to see. If strolling along the park or museum is your goal not all museum is free, not all kiddie rides in the amusement parks are inclusive on the entrance fees, so be aware.

I would suggest to start searching about the local scenic places for tourist close to your hotels, there might be some cultural events free for public, also ask help from friends who have been there before it can save you time.

If your adventurous enough and willing to try backpacking be prepared to braved street hawkers and petty thieves. It’s all about the kind of experience you really want achieved while travelling.

Lastly, budget for meals, try the local food   this can be extra costs between US$2.00 – US$30 per meal per day depends on how picky your taste buds are. The rest of the budget will go to souvenirs and other perks you really want to experience, but always stay within budget.

It’s all about planning and more planning ahead and do your homework. The preparation is far more exciting than the actual trip itself.

At any rate once you’ve taken that selfie of yours and post it on Facebook or Instagram nobody really knows what you’ve gone through or what’s going on your head non-the-less its nobody’s business.

What matters most is the realization of your dream trip, the experiences you’ve gain is priceless and nobody can take that away from you. Traveling can make you smarter so splurge while you can even it’s only once in your lifetime.

Read Also: How to use the Taxi App – Uber vs Grab

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Arnel M. Salvador is working as a Consultant in an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Software Company based in Singapore. A hobbyist photographer and blogger whose penchant in writing started since he was in the University. Arnel likes to travel and immerse to cultural diversity, amused himself to technological innovations and reading current events online. He believes everybody should dream big and has a story to tell so share it. Presently he is busy in the eCommerce start-up he founded named Royal Beaver Online.

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