Sunday, March 17, 2013

I CAN Travel, You CAN Travel TOO: 10 Tips on How to Travel Cheap

Because i love sharing my thoughts and experiences, below are some tips i listed on how I manage to travel cheap:

1. Plan Ahead of Time! This is really helpful because you can get Big discounts from airfares, hotels and tours. Months of preparation can really give you good deals on your planned destination. It always works for me. Best deals on plane tickets are booked 6months-1 year before date of travel. And in this way you can also SET a BUDGET or FUND for your travel.
2. Subscribe to Airline Companies. They send updates to your emails regularly. It's for FREE. Sometimes you get the privilege of being informed first before they Post Seat Sales or Promos on their Sites. (Locally you can subscribe to Cebupacific, Airasia, and PAL)
3. Being Nocturnal is Good! And that's said with conviction. Haha! Most Airline Companies announce PROMO fares during Midnight. So while most of the people are sound asleep, you get the the advantage to BOOK that DREAM destination at a very low price. While they are dreaming, you get a step closer to your dream. 
4. Reconnect with your Friends Living in the area. If you already have that specific destination in mind, try to think if you have friends living in or near the area. They can give you helpful tips about best and cheap hotels, restos and stuff. Some Locals know best. And if they are generous enough, they might let you stay in their place, the FREE things you can get sometimes! Now, that's a HUGE help on your budget. On some of my travels, I am adopted by my friends. I am so lucky to have such great friends! 
5. Choose DIY trip (Do-it-Yourself) Yes, travel tours can become costly sometimes. If you have TIME, i suggest you do your own research about the place. You will definitely save BIG BUCKS. I do DIY most of the time, not only because i can save but i can also choose the places i want. Furthermore, I can spend longer time on my favorite spots, no need to rush and I won't need to wait for other groups or fall in line. 
6. Travel with Friends. Remember the saying, The more the merrier... and I say PLUS the CHEAPER. Yes, you can save more when you travel as a group. Some destinations are quite expensive when you travel Solo. I love traveling Solo, but I also accept the fact that I also need to travel with a group sometimes. 
7. Research, Research, Research! If you know something about the place you are visiting, then you are a step ahead than those who don't do research. Now, what to research? Sadly, As tourists we cannot avoid some locals who try to take advantage of us. So I suggest you check on the regular rates in the area such as fares (taxi, motorcycle, bikes, boats, etc), rentals (e.g. Swimming or diving gears, etc) and souvenirs. In that way, you can haggle and avoid being taken advantage. It pays to be informed! 
8. Be COURTEOUS and KIND. Wherever you are know how to respect people, may it be a tourist or a local. In this way, you can get a lot of perks during your travel and really enjoy it. I DO this most of the time. In mostly all my travels I get the perks of getting some things for free or a favor from the locals and other fellow tourists and also get really big discounts on my purchases. Whenever I try to haggle on things, i always do it politely then luckily I get a Good DEAL. 
9. BUY in BULK. This is one technique i do whenever i want to get a good price for things i wanna purchase may it be on my travels or even on regular days. In most cases, they give you a good deal, if you haggle reasonably. So thinking of buying a souvenir? Next time buy in bulk, you might save more.
10. Be a COWBOY/COWGIRL (meaning, you don't pay much attention on fancy things and can stay or go anywhere). If you are this type of person, i guarantee, you can Go everywhere and get the BEST deals when traveling. Or in the travel world, they call it a Backpacker! Backpackers are people who love to travel but are on a tight budget. They get to explore almost all the places they want because they can sleep, eat and party anywhere. Sometimes you have to dump those fancy hotels, fancy restaurants and fancy parties in mind if you are on a tight budget BUT you really wanna go somewhere. Because simple things are the best. And there's also truth in saying the best things are free. 

So now, I Encourage you to Pack your Bags and Go! STOP dreaming and Make it Happen. Traveling is NOT ALWAYS LUCRATIVE, It is for Everyone. It just takes some Courage! And yes some planning too. 

All Set with my Traveling Shoes! Photo was taken before my trip to Bangkok, Thailand last 2012. 

How about you, what are your tips on traveling cheaply? 

Friday, March 15, 2013

La Union, Philippines: More than just a Surfing Spot

One Saturday, I decided to pack my bags and revisit La Union with only one reason in mind, not to surf but "to move meaning to break my usual routine". It was my first Solo SPONTANEOUS trip--no plans, no anything. I took the risk of boarding in a bus with no idea about their schedule; going to a place with no room reservation yet and no definite day of going back home. This was again the day when I succumbed to my alter ego (Dora the explorer).

Traveling rejuvenates the mind and body ---- BUT Solo traveling reinvigorates the mind, body and SOUL. Every journey gives me new perspective about life. Traveling solo is one of the ways i do whenever i like to ruminate, reflect and discover some aspects in life. It never fails to inspire and feed my soul.

My recent trip was monumental. It superseded my expectations. During my 4-day stay, i was able to meet a lot of people who were mostly strangers and engaged into meaningful conversations with them. I experienced living like a local and was treated as one. If you'll ask about my typical day during the trip, it was like...

     One day i was accidentally on a table discussion with an American, Australian and English men who were older. We talked and shared different topics about life, love, travel, career, poverty, etc. The almost half day conversation made me realize a lot, the wisdom you get when you hang out with people older than you. It also gave me a chance to know more about their culture. It made me giddy to plot my soon-to-be itinerary.
     The next day I was like a translator/local tour guide to a Korean guy who is exploring my country. The moment reminded me of my "Tour Guide" dream, sharing my passion about travels and places i really love. An interesting exchange of culture happened during our short conversation, as he also shared something about his country. Engaging in travel conversations makes me happy because it's like traveling without even moving (or more like bringing the world closer to you) and letting your imagination do all the work.
     AND most of the days I was like a local spending time with the people there, appreciating and admiring their way of life. I really fell in love with the Place. Yes, I am a Beach Lover, and I've been to a lot of beaches. But San Juan is the place where I felt HOME away from home. Everyone was so warm and accommodating. Since it's a small community everyone knows almost everyone which gave me a feeling of Safety. 

"My love for SOLO travels never gets old, rather leaves me craving for more."

I love observing people and engaging into meaningful conversations with them. Through observations alone i get to learn much and more during interaction. 
10 things I Learned and Felt during my recent Solo travel:
(Well there's more, but I'll summarize a few)
1. Contentment leads to genuine happiness. Be grateful of what you have. Know when things are enough, too much can be poisonous. A contented person feels the happiest.
2. Yes, Money can't buy you Happiness, Friends and even Love. Collect and count memories rather than tangible things. Establish good and real relationships, they do last a lifetime. Many things fail because sometimes people are too busy focusing on less important things in life.
3. Friendship has no barriers nor condition. Sometimes a perfect stranger can become your good friend in just minutes. It's about embracing each one's differences then learn from them. Wouldn't it be boring if you all think, do and act the same?
4. Face your Fears! You'll be astounded on how much you can do. Courage should be your best friend and Fear, your enemy. Never underestimate self. I am glad i did, it was an experience to remember. One tiny little step is better than not trying at all. Life is unknown and must be continuously explored. 
5. Flashing a REAL Smile when asking a favor and Saying Thank you is inevitable and can even save your day. TRY it! It won't cost you anything but you might gain something. It works for me every time!(***It varies on some culture, know the social norms in the area. In the Philippines it is considered polite.)
6. RESPECT everything and everyone around you. You'll be repaid or much more. The world is a better place when people learn to respect one another.It's never a one way process.
7. Dedication and Passion results to Greatness. Nothing is impossible if you exert much time and effort on to something. Nothing worthy enough comes so easy. 
8. Simple things in life are always the best. Live humbly, it will make you feel the richest person alive.
9. OPEN your mind. It's a BIG world out there. If you think you know everything, i suggest you think a thousand times. Avoid BIGOTRY and Be HUNGRY in so many ways. An open mind gives us more room for learning and experience, a never ending opportunity.
10. Life is a Choice. Your choices reflect the life you live. Life is not miserable, if you try to always embrace positivity. Life is Beautiful if we choose to see it on a much deeper sense. Choose to Be Happy, because Everyone deserves to be.

These Ideas are basic, but sometimes we still overlook them because we are too drowned in a World (or Society) where greed, fear, and money exist. Sometimes, we need to step out from time to time to always remind us and make us see what life really means. As i walked through the shore and slowly watched the waves crash into my feet; I realized that just like a SURFER, "In Life, Everyone just needs to learn how to dance with the waves to appreciate every bit of it."

How about you, what are your thoughts during your travels? 
At Cirle Inn. A Hammock can be your Home for a Night or a place for lounging. I spent my time here reading books.
Taken at Angel and Marie's Resto, and yes they really serve delicious grub. The best place to grab an iced cold coffee in the area, if you can't live without coffee. haha They also have rooms for rent, and i stayed there during my entire vacation. I called it my second home.
At Circle Inn (Perfect Place for Backpackers). Indeed! Inspiration you can get from Graffiti. 
San Juan Sunset is one of my Favorites. Sunsets make my heart skip a Beat, it's one of those moments that is worth waiting. 
Overlooking the Island, we were at the third floor of a House. It was Breath taking.
Meet my cutie little buddies!
While I was walking at the shore they confidently approached me and asked if we can have a picture together. Aren't they the cutest? 
A spot near Monaliza's point. The surfers love this point because of bigger waves.
Surfers' Shack, My favorite Place! Everything was built and made of scrap. I loved the creativity in here. Great Vibes, Great People, Great Company! I definitely admire their passion in Surfing.
Hammock by the Beach, now this is LIFE! The sound of the waves is music to my ears.
Great things you can get for Free.
Of course, MUST not leave the island without surfing. It was not a good surf day for me, BUT still thankful for the waves.
With Jeff, Textback (Norman) and Junior, great local surfers and new friends. We explored the night food market in the City which is only a 15min ride away from San Juan. Yet another Gluttony night. Thank you for the great company
For more tips about surfing in La Union, you can go to my previous blog 
La Union: Drive, Surf, Eat 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Bangkok, Thailand: Street Food Craze at Khao San Road

If you are the type of person who is also adventurous with food you must not miss a walk down Khao San Road. You will find a variety of authentic thai street food. And also if you are on a Budget but still want to experience a taste of thai culture, i think this is the best place to go. 

Khao San Road is a very popular place for Backpackers. You'll see swarm of tourists from all over the world. It became famous because of rock-bottom hotel rates, fusion of local bars, and not to mention the interesting things you can find in here from street foods-exotic foods-souvenirs-clothes-bags, etc. 

So how was the Khao San experience...

Who wants some authentic pad thai? One of the best pad thai I've ever tasted, not to mention how cheap it is.
Served Fresh and HOT. The smell, anticipation and the "act of cooking it in front of you" made me drool. I was like a giddy little kid waiting for her lollipop.
Now that's worth the wait! My mouth-watering "Pad thai+egg+Chicken" and must not forget the spicy sprinkles!

More streetfoods, i tried the pork bbq and it was juicy and good.

Now for some dessert: Who wants some ROTEE? As the sign on the vendor's cart say: Rotee nourishes your mind and your body.
Now this was one delicious Banana ROTEE with Nutella!

Now for a healthier meal, FRUITS! My favorite was the Mango sprinkled with spicy powder. The funny fact about it was, their Mango tasted like guavas.

If you are looking for some "FEAR FACTOR" food challenge, then maybe these grub are for you...
What's delectable for you? We saw a bunch of other tourists trying these out. But sorry, i wasn't audacious that night so i skipped on these crawlies. And, I don't think my tummy will be able to digest these. The thought of eating some of these gave me goosebumps.

Unlimited Roaches, Scorpions, Maggots, would you dare?
 I also loved Khao San because of an array of stuff you can see, do and purchase like...

Some good souvenirs. I felt sad for failing to bring one of these at home. We weren't able to get our money exchanged that night and all we got was enough to grab some grub for our rumbling stomachs
Or maybe reward yourself with some foot massage by the street if you don't value privacy that much. 
To cap off the night: We also tried their local beer, a jug of"Singha". I am not FAN of beers but it's a good try.
PLUS Beer tastes BEST when shared with Good old Friends.It was surely a night to remember.
I would definitely go back to this place. Thai street food really tickled my taste buds but didn't cause any pain in my pocket. It was a "Gustatory Experience" for me. Thai food is mostly comparatively bland or spicy and I prefer the latter. But spices are always available and gives you the freedom to perfect the taste you want. Now that's something I can add on my Food Culture Journal.