Category Archives: Frugal Living

A Visit to the Farm – Toledo, Cebu #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 7 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

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WellCome – A Budget Hotel with a Rooftop Pool #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 6 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

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More about WellCome at www.wellcomehotel.com.

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Tips for Planning a Trip with Kids

Tips for Planning a Trip with Kids

Tips for Planning a Trip with Kids

Most people believe that traveling with kids is an extraordinarily expensive and strenuous affair since you will have to pay more and spend most of your time watching their every move. As such, they would rather leave their children with a nanny or a trusted friend than travel with them to their holiday destination. It is however important to note that holidays can be fun even with your children present as long as you consider several important factors when planning the holiday. Some of these include:

Research about your destination

Since you have kids on board, research on destinations that would not only be fun for you as an adult, but also your children. In this case, you can’t afford to miss popular theme parks, color pools and slides, white sand beaches, and the famous Jungle Island, which your kids would surely love.

Pre-travel considerations

If you are traveling with your children and other adults, discuss what destinations can cover the interests of everyone on board, including the children, and agree on how you will split chores and take time looking after the children.

Travel safety

When traveling with children on a plane, make sure they get safety seats or wear safety belts. Also, do not leave the children alone in a car.

Children with special needs 

If you have children with special needs, speak to parents whose children have similar conditions and try and find useful travel tips. You can also research about this online. You should invest in bracelets or jewellery that indicate a child’s medical condition if any, treatment and their doctor’s name in case of emergencies. The same applies for anyone with allergies.

Accommodation

Whether you have booked a hotel or opted for self-catering accommodation, always have toys for your children to play with. If you are looking to book a hotel, always check for special family discounts including free meals for children. Also scan the hotel room for any potential hazards and eliminate them.

Allow flexibility

Basically, you can never plan too much time for meals and national parks. Always feel free to extend time in the park or forest to ensure you don’t miss anything. As for the kids, always ensure that they are in a safe place. For example, if you are in a place like the Serengeti in Africa, they should always be in the car as it is dangerous even for adults to veer away from their vehicles.

Summary

Holiday breaks won’t be complete if the kids won’t tag along. It should be noted also that traveling with kids can be fun and hassle-free if you’ll consider the tips and pointers that are mentioned above. With the right precautionary measures, your trip will be fruitful, memorable, and enjoyable.

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How to Save Money during the Year to Go On Your Dream Vacation

How to Save Money during the Year to Go On Your Dream Vacation

For too many people, going on a dream vacation can feel like an unattainable goal. While it would be amazing to travel to exotic destinations like Thailand, Australia, Singapore or Jamaica, many of us think that we would never be able to save up enough money to travel to these places comfortably, even if we were able to score last minute vacation packages. After all, most of us have mortgages, tuition payments and other assorted bills to worry about.

How to Save Money during the Year to Go On Your Dream Vacation

Night shot of Marina Bay during our Singapore trip – December of last year.

Thankfully, this line of reasoning is completely wrong. You can go on that dream vacation, but it will require giving yourself a year’s time to plan and save accordingly. Here are some tips on how to save money during the year to go on your dream vacation.

Determine How Much You’ll NeedThe first step is to sit down and calculate exactly how much money you’ll need to enjoy your vacation comfortably. While you want to create a figure that you can logically save up in a year’s time, don’t budget too much. After all, you want to have enough funds to truly enjoy your dream vacation.

Create a PlanOnce you’ve determined how much you’ll need, you simply need to create a plan determining how much and how often you’ll put money into your vacation savings. This is as simple as dividing your total amount by 12, the number of months in a year, or 52, the number of weeks. It’s a good idea to create a savings account for your vacation money. This way, you won’t be tempted to dip into it.

Stick To Your PlanThe most important aspect of saving for a dream vacation is really sticking to your plan. It will be tempting to dip into your vacation savings for little purchases throughout the year, especially around the holidays. However, sticking to your vacation savings plan will be something that you thank yourself for once the time for your dream vacation comes.

Get the whole family involved in this year of vacation saving. This is a great way to teach your kids about the benefits and rewards that come with diligently saving money. If you create a year-long plan and stick to it, you’ll thank yourself when it comes time to fly away to the destination that you’ve always dreamed of visiting.

 

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MOA IMAX Theater Lounge Area Manila #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 5 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (: 

998923_10151554770816951_1455272944_n        Cool and sleek red lounge pods.

Giant Coca-cola cap and Big big pop corn.

The ever beautiful Inday Minette.

The northern part of lounge, and the counter area.

Chiel, the one and only…

More about IMAX Theater at www.imax.com/theatres.

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Mall of Asia Manila #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 4 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

1146513_10151554773771951_98940923_nA close-up photo with Chiel in the telescope.

One of the best views from Mall of Asia.

Inside and outside the mall.

1209436_10151554773281951_54290225_nPanoramic view

More about Mall of Asia at www.smmallofasia.com.

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BE Resorts Mactan Lapulapu Cebu #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

Note: This is part 3 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

BE Resort’s Deluxe Room Interior

The Lobby.

Lime Cafe.

Their beach front and the amazing lounge pods.

Amazing beach shots.

Be Resort Mactan Lapulapu Cebu 21And the star of the event, Inday Liana Gail. (:

More about BE Resort at www.beresorts.com.

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Alona Beach Panglao Island Bohol #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

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Note: This is part 2 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol 2

Morning stroll with inday Minette at Alona Beach.

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Early morning beach shot.

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Testing the water for a quick morning swim.

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I was left alone, ruminating by myself.  LOL!

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The beach-lover chick.

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Save mother earth. (:

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Afternoon shot by the beach.

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Bohol Diver’s Club beach

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Dude at BDC’s beach garden.

Bohol Divers Resort Alona Beach Panglao Bohol

Morning breakfast with dude at Bohol Diver’s Club.  Their breakfast buffet is yummy!

More about Alona Beach at www.alonabeachguide.com.

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Mt. Manghilao – Danao’s Highest Mountain Peak #TravelReview2013 (Photos)

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Note: This is part 1 of my #TravelReview2013 photo-blog post series.  Since I haven’t blog that much last year, I’m doing this series to feature all the travels I did on that year.  And, because my brain is still not yet ready for lengthy word combats, let all the photos do the talking. (:

Danao Mountain Peak 2

My pretty little sister enjoying the mountain view at the private rest house of Soulmate’s hubby.

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The view from the private rest house.

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The epic carabao pic. In the photo is my younger sister and Chiel, one of my close buddies. (:

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Nice skyline view.  This is the path leading to the private rest house.

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Another shot inside the forest.

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Simply amazing mountain view.

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Some of the people who celebrated mine and Soulmate’s birthday last year.  From left to right: Chiel, me, Soulmate, dude, manash.

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Jeepney ride with my dorky little sister and two of my friends.

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Meditating pose with the birthday girls: me and Soulmate.

Danao Mountain Peak

Sky, mountain, forest.

More info about Mt. Manghilao at www.danaocity.gov.ph/index.php/tourism/mt-manghilao.

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MUJI, a Brandless Japanese Store is now in Cebu

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines

MUJI, an international Japanese lifestyle retail store, opened their first branch in Central Visayas on December 20, 2013.  It is located at the New Wing of Ayala Center Cebu, Level 2.  They offer unbranded yet high quality products and goods that are sold at reasonable prices.

Minimalism and Recycling

All MUJI’s products are manufactured and designed with minimalism and recycling in mind.  From their complete line of household supplies, electronics, furniture, to cosmetics, apparels, food, travel and daily essentials, they focus more in creating functional products with simplistic packaging to reduce waste and help conserve the environment.

MUJI Store in Ayala Center Cebu

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - OutsideOutside the Store

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - TravelTravel Essentials

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - FashionMen’s and Ladies’ Garments

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - FurnitureFurniture and Household Supplies

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - KitchenKitchen Utensils

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - Educational SuppliesPens, Notebooks and other Stationery Items

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - FoodsSnacks, Sweets, Dried Fruits, Popcorn, Instant Drip Coffee and Tea

MUJI Store Cebu Philippines - CounterStore Counter

The overall design of their store is in synced with the company’s philosophy that promotes simplicity, green living, and sustainability.

About MUJI

Muji is simply the shorter version of Mujirushi (no brand) Ryohin (quality goods).  The company officially opened its first store in 1983.  The Muji store in Ayala Center Cebu is the very first branch they opened here in the Visayas region.  At the present, they have 205 retail outlets operating all over the globe.  Visit www.muji.net to check out their products online.

 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/muji.ph

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MUJI_PH

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Masskara Festival 2013: A Glimpse of the Street Dancing Parade (Photos)

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 14

Because I didn’t find the time to get my media ID from a prominent blogger who offered us an ID pass, I had no choice but to battle my way down to the street dancers.  Starting from the very strong crowd, photography enthusiasts, and down to a group of Caucasians (a foreign TV crew I guess) who dominated the street every time a group of dancers passes by.

Bacolod 2013 Masskara Festival 5

At first I was kind of contented just taking photos from afar, but then I thought, I was there to document the event.  It’s just unfair not take some close-up photos.

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I easily made my way to a group of local photographers but there’s just something in the crowd that made them hesitate to go near towards the main attraction.  And it’s no other than this group of foreign TV crew who were also covering the street parade.  This group is so domineering.  They have all the lenses and have this very “authoritative air” every time they take their position to get a good shot/video each time the dancers stop by to perform.

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Fortunately for me, I didn’t find this group a hindrance at all.  I used their domineering presence to get some good close-up photos.  Every time a new group of dancers stopped by, I immediately positioned myself by their (foreign crew) side.  It was a BREEZE!!! (:

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Having a foreign TV crew by your side is AWESOME!!!! LOL!

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I only took a few photos as the heat of the sun is something that I can’t bear.

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All these photos were taken on the 21st of October.  That was on Sunday.  The 3rd of day of our trip there in Bacolod.  More stories of our Bacolod travel in my next blog posts.  For more street parade photos, you may visit my Facebook fanpage.

 

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Kitting Out a New Home on a Budget

Kitting Out a New Home on a Budget

Kitting Out a New Home on a BudgetStarting off in a new home isn’t cheap. Apart from the initial cost of deposits and agency or mortgage fees, you’ll have to stump up the funds to kit out your pad. The good news is, there are lots of money-saving tactics that you can employ in order to keep your spending down.

Shop around

When you’re on the hunt for kitchen appliances and other items, make sure you shop around for both larger white goods and smaller appliances like toasters, kettles and grills. There are lots of deals available online, and by taking a little time and using price comparison sites to review a number of options, you stand a better chance of bagging a bargain.

Go second-hand

Also, it can pay off to opt for second-hand products. These can also be found online auction and ad sites, as well as in charity shops and car boot sales. OK, so these items may not last as long or look as pretty as brand new versions, but they can save you a tidy sum. Of course, before you hand over any money for these items, you’ll need to make sure they work properly.

Free living

You might even be able to get some items for free. There are a growing number of reuse websites in cyberspace where people advertise products ranging from white goods to sofas that they no longer want. As long as you can pick the objects up, they could be yours for nothing.

Comb the sales

Timing is also key. If you stock up on products for your property during sale seasons, you can benefit from impressive value for money. This may mean being patient for a little while, but if big savings are on offer, it could be worth your while.

Kitting your new house or flat out on a budget doesn’t mean you have to compromise when it comes to style. Often, it is the inexpensive little extras that help to make living spaces look and feel warm and attractive. Something as simple – and cheap – as adding some new cushions to sofas or placing a fresh bunch of flowers in a vase can bring rooms to life and suddenly make it feel like home.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/familymwr/4929685747/

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My First Helmet Diving #Boracay2013

Helmet Diving in Boracay 2013

DON’T do Helmet Diving if you have ear and heart problems.  Also, if you have high blood pressure, you are not allowed to do it as it be very risky.

I apologize if I need to emphasize those serious health risks in this blog post.  I was quite unaware of them myself before we arrived in the diving site.  My mother who has high blood pressure was out-rightly prohibited when the diving instructors knew her condition.  Min0tte, on the other hand, tried to dive but she gave up because she experienced unbearable pain in her ears (caused by the pressure from the tank) when she was hoisted down.

The Fun Part

 The great part is the exhilarating experience when you walk underwater, see and feed a colorful school of fishes, and just be awed on how great it is to breathe down there.  See photos below if the video above is not working.

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How Much It Cost?

Helmet Diving is one of least expensive activities in Boracay.  We paid Php350.00 per head for 40 minutes.  I managed to get a lesser rate by scouting for prizes first.  The first agent who I met offered Php450.  Note that rates/prizes vary a lot.  If you are a foreigner then the prize is 500% higher.  Frugal Tip: You can haggle for lesser rate if you are in a group of 10 or more.  The more people you are with, the higher chance of getting an affordable rate.

Is it Worth the Cost and Risks?

It’s really worth it but this kind of activity is better done in diving sites with lots of corals and marine sceneries.  If you haven’t tried it yet, be warned that the helmet weigh 25 kilos (but this won’t be a problem anymore once you are underwater) .  Also, you should know how to equalize your breathing when you are hoisted down.  You’ll also experience an initial pain (due to the tank’s pressure) while you are going down to the ocean floor.

I highly recommend this activity to groups as it is more fun feeding fishes together with lots of people around you.  It’s actually unfortunate that Mama and MinOtte weren’t able to join us.  But, nevertheless, it was really a very memorable and fun experience. (:

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Boracay at Night: The Good and the Bad

Boracay at Night

Boracay is tagged as the second best beach destination in the world.  This is already not new to anyone especially among beach bums and tourists alike.  But, for someone like me who grow up in Cebu and had been to its finest beaches, Boracay is not really that super great.  I mean come on.  When it comes to beaches, Sumilon Island here in Cebu is at par, and don’t forget Camotes, Malapascua, and Bantayan Island – these are just a few of Cebu’s best beach destinations.  Also, Panglao Island in Bohol is majestic.  The one thing that makes Boracay a wonder on its own is the never-ending-all-year-round activities that makes you want to come back for more.  And, honestly, that’s the very reason why I’m planning to go back may be next year.

Exploring Boracay on a Budget at Night

The Good

I discovered that the most budget-friendly activity you can do in Boracay is to explore the island by doing a photo-walk during the night.

Boracay at Night

Compared to the “very” costly day-time activities, exploring at night is very friendly to your pocket.  You don’t really need to buy anything.  If you’re a first time tourist, taking photos is definitely a very rewarding and enjoyable activity you can do.

Country Crossing Sign - Boracay Island 2013

While exploring, you can splurge a bit and have a dinner buffet.  In our case, I managed to haggle the per head price, from Php285 per head (for 4) down to Php284 per head (for 3+1).  Yes, I got the 4th person free of charge. I’m that good in haggling. LOL!

Buffet Dinner - Boracay Island 2013

For Php213 per head, we already have a very sumptuous dinner that was composed of poultry meat and sea foods.  And take note, the drinks are bottomless. (; Another note: If you are in a “super” tight budget, you can skip the buffet dinner and just head to Andoks, Mang Inasal, Master Siomai, and a lot more cheaper options.

Band Singing - Boracay Island 2013

After we had our dinner, we were so full that we decided to stroll around.  I found out that there are so many dinner buffet deals ahead of us – the very reason the woman who convinced us to dine in their restaurant tried her best to keep us by giving us a lower rate.  Nice strategy!!

Seafoods Stand - Boracay Island 2013

Compared to other famous beach destinations here in the Philippines, I can say that Boracay has the liveliest night life.

Shakeys - Boracay Island 2013

You will never get hungry because the variety of options is endless.  From fresh sea foods, food stalls, fine dining, fast foods, and yes even a grocery store where you can buy canned goods and rice.

Empress Of Drac - Boracay Island 2013

While strolling, we found some fun ways to take photos.  At the beach side there were a few big photo-shoot studio umbrellas where we got our photos taken.

With Mama - Boracay Island 2013

Farther ahead, we spotted a couple of sand castles.  This one in the photo is not the usual fabulous sand castle I usually see but this is already okay.  Note: After you take your photos, some kids will ask you for a donation.  They are the ones who built the sand castles and they want you to compensate their effort.  You have the choice to just ignore them or just give them at least five pesos.  In my case, I gave them twenty.

With the Dancing Chefs - Boracay Island 2013

One of the best highlights of our long photo-walk session was the dancing chefs.  When we arrived at their dinner buffet area, we noticed a lot of Koreans and other foreigners having a good time taking photos with the restaurant’s chefs.  Who doesn’t want to have a picture taken wearing a chef’s cap?

Minotte and Mama - Boracay Island 2013

Although September is an off-peak season in Boracay, the clubbing life is so alive I would have tried going in a disco area if my mother was not with us.

Tourists at Night - Boracay Island 2013

And this is how the traffic looks like at 10PM.  Tourists had just started to pour in.

The Bad

While on our way back to our hotel, I was astounded when a policeman caught up with us and tried to check the photos I took with my camera.  He asked me if I took photos of “him”.

Police Car - Boracay Island 2013

I was like, really? You Mr. Policeman are overreacting.  I told him that I was only taking a photo of the police vehicle as part of my Boracay documentation.  In our way back to our hotel, we noticed some disturbances when a few policemen were apprehending a drunken tourist.  That’s the time that I noticed a police vehicle and snapped a photo.  It never occurred to me that a policeman in a tourist area would reprimand someone taking photos of her surroundings.

He tried to chitchat with us and asked where we come from and told us that he did the inspection for security purposes.  I was like, really?  They are expecting spies and conspiracies in this bloody island?  I wanted to LOL but at a closer look, I did consider his excuse.  Well, who knows? This can be a good aspect of the island – security.  Still, I really find it friggin’ annoying and unnecessary.  If you are a good policeman, you should know how to assess people.

The Other Side of Boracay Island

And here, I save the best err the worst for last – in my long and previous online researches about Boracay, I never really seen photos like this one that I took.  The results of my online researches all contain beautiful photos of the island – not a hint of the situation that’s being presented in the photo above.

When I passed by this young mother with her children, I can’t helped but realized that in the Philippines, the local/native people are the poorest of the poor.  And it becomes very ironic especially in an island as rich as Boracay – a tourist destination that asks for massive terminal fee, and environmental fees at every entrance gate.  Spell OVERPRICING and SCAMMERS – will write a detailed article about this in my next blog post.

Have you been to Boracay?  Share your experiences, may it be good or bad.  Goodnight. (:

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My Top 3 Remaining Travel Schedules for 2013

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Pitogo Island 2

Sunset Shot with Dude at Pitogo Island

At the end of October, Dude and I, along with Minette, will be moving to Pitogo Island.  We will be basing there temporarily or for good (there’s no final plan yet).  We’ve been planning for this move since early this year.  Dude will be quitting from his office job this October for various reasons but one of them is to have a flexible schedule to travel with me.  One of the reasons of our limited travel trips is his work schedule.  Also, we feel that Toledo City is a hostile place to live in.  It would be a relief to get away from this city. (Will try my best to write a separate post detailing about our misadventures here.)

Pitogo Island

Pitogo Island in front of me

In all honesty, I’m actually hesitant about the prospect of living there (though I fell in love with its scenery and the beauty of the surrounding islets), but this move also has to do with our financial stability.  We feel that we can have more savings living in an island compared to living in a sub-urban area.  Also, we have the peace of mind going to trips and travels knowing that our valuables are in a safe place.

My Travel Schedule for the last quarter of 2013

I write about our moving plan to give a detailed picture on how hectic our schedule would be a few months from now.  Thus between our preparations to move and settle down in an island (this time), we’ll also be inserting in our schedule the remaining travel plans we have for the rest of 2013.

September 6 to 9 – Boracay

Boracay from Boracy Camera Live Screenshot

Screenshot photo from Boracay Live Cam – August 15, 2013 – That’s White Beach!

 Definitely my first time going there!!! I’m sooo bloody excited that I booked our flight and hotel last June.  We’ll go there during those dates to celebrate my mother’s birthday.  Mama will be turning 48 this September and it’s really my long-time plan to bring her to a relaxing vacation because she’s so overworked “nannying” her grand kids plus all the “bone-breaking” work at home.  I really can’t imagine my mother’s hard-work all these years.  I intend to bring papa as well but he refused because there’s no one around to check on my younger sister and her kids (her husband is currently away due to work).

Frugal Tips in Booking a Flight to Boracay - I booked two one-way flights. Booking a round-trip flight would cost you more especially if your flight destination is to Bora.  Luckily, I managed to grab four seats that were on sale.  The base fare is Php399 (per head). (:  In our flight back to Cebu, I booked the Kalibo to Cebu flight to avoid the very costly Caticlan to Cebu fare.  Take note that the Kalibo to Cebu fare is not on sale but it only costs Php588 (excluding all kinds of taxes and fees that would make your head spin).

October 18 to 20 – Bacolod

Masskara Festival Bacolod City

Photo Credit

We’ve been planning to go to Bacolod because it’s just a ferry away from Toledo City.  Fortunately, a friend will also go there during the Masskara Festival.  That friend told me that she knows a very affordable inn there with high speed Wi-Fi.  Soulmate, a close friend of mine, will also come along with us.  Pretty much excited for this. (:

Frugal Tips in Going to Bacolod – If you are base near Toledo City, the best frugal way to go there is via  ferry.  The fare is only Php200 plus.  If you are  from Cebu City, you have the option to travel by ocean jet or via airplane.  Go for airplane if there’s a seat sale but the ocean jets are advisable if you’re on budget.

December 2 to 6 – Singapore

Singapore City

Photo Credit

This is a big year-ender for our 2013 travels.  I just got my passport earlier this month (after almost a year of processing!!).  I’ve chosen those dates because December 5 will be dude’s (my partner) birthday.  We’ve been planning for years to travel abroad together and 2013 is our lucky year.  I feel so lucky (again) because I managed to book a one-way  flight (Cebu – SG) when Cebu Pacific had a promo.  The base fare is Php1, 499.  Usually the base fare (if there’s no promo) is around Php4,000 plus.  I booked a separate flight for SG – Cebu and got a promo fare but it’s quite expensive compared to the latter since it’s priced in Singaporean dollars.  The total cost of the flight including all the taxes and add-on fees (back and forth) is Php7, 700 plus per head.  That’s Php4,000 plus cheaper compared to regular airfare and a round-trip flight.

Frugal Trips in Booking a Flight to Singapore – Never book a round-trip flight unless the airline company announced that they have a round-trip promo which very rarely happens.  Book two separate one-way flights to avoid paying more.

 

Praying and hoping for good weather during these scheduled trips.  I’m so happy that I’m slowly realizing my dreams to travel this year.  I’m looking forward for more trips next year.

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