In all my travels locally, I always like to do it “DIY-style” – from purchasing the airline tickets, booking hotels online using travel websites like Traveloka, to checking out the must-see places – except for the travels with my family during my early years though, where my parents do all the planning, budgeting, and booking.
I have to say that I’m lucky, because being a millennial (although on the early years of the spectrum), I had access to the internet ever since it started and that’s usually the place where the planning all begins. Of course, with the help of my other avid traveler friends, here’s how we usually come up with a DIY travel plan:
- Travel Fairs/Expos
I’m a sucker for seat sales, flight deals, and any promos that provide discounts for airfare or transportation. Since we have a lot of those travel fairs happening now, I usually take advantage of it. It’s either I go there personally to check out what’s on sale, or I also check online for similar deals.
Here’s a tip: whenever there’s an ongoing travel fair somewhere in Metro Manila, local airlines also offer the same deals online. The trick, however, is in how quick you are to grab and book those deals.
Whenever I go to Travel Expos with friends, the best way to be able to book something is to already know where you want to go. In my head though, I usually have three (3) options, either local or international. That way, I don’t get overwhelmed with the many offers and deals. In these events, there are also many travel agencies that offer one-stop-shop deals. Meaning, they sell you a place complete with airfare, accommodations, and a fixed itinerary or guided tours. Based on experience though, my friends and I just book the cheap flights – because everything else, we can do on our own. Like I said, DIY!
- Booking Accommodations Online
Your accommodations are one item in your travel list that needs to be perfect or impeccable; because if this part goes wrong, everything else goes wrong.
In booking accommodations, I personally prefer booking online. There are many hotel booking websites available now. It makes things more convenient, hassle-free, and easy! By booking online, you get to check out the rooms, the prices, any additional features, and the location conveniently in one place. Some sites also do not necessarily require a credit card, so choose your options wisely. The key to booking your hotels is to check the map of the place you’re going to. Using and taking advantage of Google maps will also help. This will help you choose the most convenient place – ideally, the one most accessible to all the tourist spots, or one that is most accessible to the city/downtown area.
- Use your Research Skills
For checking out the best tourist spots, I usually do this on my own using my best research skills. There are a ton of travel blogs out there that can tell you all you need to know. Plus, there are also travel websites like the Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor, etc. with personal reviews of fellow travelers for the best places or best restaurants. In the Philippines, sometimes, you need not even pay for tour guides, unless they also come with transportation – in which case, “Manong Driver” can double as your tour guide.
Besides, I also don’t like being tied to a strict itinerary, where you need to follow the tour guide’s instructions and schedule on things to do all the time. Being able to tour on your own means more flexibility and more relaxation.
- Stick to a Budget
I know some people who travel in style all the time. You know, the best airlines, luxury hotels, expensive restaurants, etc – ALL the WORKS! I don’t mind doing that every once in a while – but not on a regular basis, though.
Going to a new place is not cheap, and for that, I’d rather stick to a budget. That way, I can choose to splurge on maybe a few things – like a good hotel, or on food instead.
In summary, I know some people who’d rather leave every detail to a travel agency and do not mind paying for costly agency fees. I don’t have a problem with that, except that, it’s just no fun doing it that way. For me, having the chance to research and explore on my own adds to the overall experience of travelling. It also provides you the freedom to choose which places to visit, where to eat, and how to do it.
Do you have any tips for travelling around the Philippines, too? Share them with me!