It seems contradictory, really. In this time of crisis, we’re forced to work harder than we usually do, given the rising cost of living. And given how hard we work, we also realize how much we need a break, even when there’s little we can spare for a vacation. Here’s FN’s guide to going on vacation—even in this time of penny-pinching.
FIND A TRAVEL BUDDY, OR TWO, OR FIVE.
The cheapest way to travel is with a bunch of people because this means dividing up all expenses, from accommodations to transportation, from food tripping to by-the-bucket drinks. Underutilized but always cheaper are group reservations for traveling by sea. Realize, though, that these group offers could have a catch, so read the fine print. Most importantly, pick the people you’ll be traveling with—saving on a trip shouldn’t mean sacrificing enjoyment.
DO YOUR RESEARCH!
Read up on anything and everything, including your itinerary, but most importantly, look for the cheapest deals on activities you want to do at your destination. Everything is online, yes, but instead of the official sites (think about it—who can afford a fancy website but the more expensive places?), check out the message boards and personal blogs on traveling. Because these are real people talking about their travel experiences, you get more useful tips and a lot of the cheaper deals here.
SPEAK TO THE LOCALS.
While research will help you make reservations and give you a sense of what you might do at your destination, keep an open mind once you get there. Speak to the locals, because they will always have recommendations for tourists and might even give you the cheapest of deals. On a trip to Bohol, for example, a tricycle driver offered to bring us to the tarsiers, which turned out to be much cheaper than going on the official tour. The same tricycle driver stopped at the important landmarks and churches on the way, giving us local chismis and tidbits about history that only the locals know of. It was a tour like no other.
TOKENS FOR PASALUBONG.
Steer clear of those huge and expensive gifts for pasalubong. Getting food is generally not advisable, not only because this is more expensive, but also because they are difficult and bulky to pack. Realize as well that many of these souvenirs, such as T-shirts, food, and native crafts, are already available in the bigger malls in Manila. If you must bring home something, key chains are fail-safe. They are the cheapest and most mass-produced souvenirs, and you can buy them in bulk. Plus, people will always have keys and therefore have use for your pasalubong. Other small-sized and small-budget gifts include magnets or, for your gal pals, jewelry like earrings or bracelets.
ENJOY THE SIMPLE, EASY, AND LIGHT.
Traveling shouldn’t just be about the activities that you do at your destination. It can also be about sitting quietly at a local café and having coffee, talking to the locals, and discovering something about the place you’re at. Realize that just the fact that you’re in a different place is already a vacation from the travails of the city. Sometimes sitting quietly elsewhere, with a book and a cup of your favorite drink, is all the vacation you need.
(Photo source: sxc.hu)