I am thrilled to share with you some travel tips from Dan, my husband. He is our family's master travel planner; he books our flights, does our itineraries and budgets our trips. I'm sure you will learn from his years of travel experience.
But before you read his blog, I just want to take this time to thank our moms, mama Marilou and mama Cecil. Their generosity allowed us to go to different places.
Mga mama, SALAMAT po sa kabaitan niyo! Napakapalad po namin ni Dan. We love you both.
Anyway, enjoy reading Dan's blog and wait for more of him on my website. Yehey! Feel free to leave your comments, encouragements, travel questions, etc.
First Things First
Eventually, after getting married, we decided (me and Phoebe) that traveling will be one of our family's values, not for the sake of traveling alone but to build memories together through the years.
One of the most exciting parts, for me, when traveling with my wife is not when we are in those tourist destinations or even on the airplane, the fun part starts 2-3 weeks before our trip. It's when I'm doing our trip's itinerary and preparations. It gives me the thrill because this is the part where I imagine and I actually vividly see the things that are about to happen.
Here are some of the things I do before and during our trips. I hope this will help you prepare for your future trips.
1. BOOK THE TRIP. I usually book a trip 6 months before so I can avail promos and have an ample time to save up and plan.
I usually read blogs of people who have been to the place where we are going. They provide very helpful information which help me choose activities and even allocate budget.
Make sure to check if you will need a visa in going to a certain country (refer to this site to know which countries need visa and which who don't).
3. MAKE AN ITINERARY. Count how many nights will you be in a country. This will give you an idea how much budget you will need to pay for the hotel (better to have a flight that will arrive at around 12nn to maximize your first day payment).
There are a lot of places where you could go to if you are in a new place, my tip is to go to places where most tourists go (famous spots).
In making the itinerary make sure you include the travel time from one place to another, the meal time, picture takings and if you have your wife with you, the shopping time (better yet to have a free day just for shopping)
- Taxi to the airport: since we live in Pasig/Cainta area, it costs around P400 (10$) to the airport
- Travel tax and terminal fee: P1,620 and P550 (52$) as of Sept 2014
- Hotel rate: count how many nights you will stay and multiply with the daily rate
- Meals: I usually allot around P500 (12$) for the 2 of us for each meal
- Transportation: At least P500 (12$) per day for the two of us
- Shopping: P6000-P8000 (150$ - 200$) for shopping and buying souvenirs
- Entrance to tourist destinations: it depends on which country you are going. My tip is you adjust to your budget so you will not overspend. Prioritize places that are famous
5. OTHER IMPORTANT TIPS
- Exchange your money to US dollars. I do this on the day of departure. Don't exchange in the airport because the rates are waaaaaaaay different (make sure to have an extra peso for your taxi fare when going back and for your snacks in the airport and on the plane).
- Print your ticket itinerary. You will need this in checking in your luggage, in the immigration and sometimes even upon entering the airport premises.
- Have a bag where you could put all your important things: passport, ticket itinerary, money, boarding pass, pen (for immigration), earphone for your tablet or cellphone (when the trip is long). Do not put any liquid here since it's not allowed for hand carry. It's good to have a small notebook and a calculator - the notebook is where you put your expenses and some important details (in case your phone runs out of battery) and the calculator is for money exchange and some minor daily computations.
- Always count your baggage.
- Since most promo trips land in different countries late at night or very early in the morning, make sure you research which taxi company is the cheapest and the most honest.
- Download apps for famous destinations and maps in the country if there are (in South Korea, there are a lot), if not, as soon as you get out of the immigration, there is usually a stand full of brochures which include almost all the things you need (taxi & hotel rates, maps, destinations, etc)
- As soon as you arrive, you will need the country's currency to pay for your taxi or the bus ticket and even for your first dinner. Don"t exchange all your money in the airport since rates there are waaaaay low. Exchange at least 50$ only. In exchanging anywhere, make sure to count the money at least twice to avoid being unawarely robbed.
- Have a photo (even in your phones) of the place or address you are staying. this will spare you in playing instant charades with the driver.
- Make sure your watch is in-sync with the country you are in to avoid confusion during your stay.
- Be kind but also be wise. Don't trust right away to avoid being fooled. Maintain stiffness (serious look) and be in control of the situation.
And that's it! May this serve as a help for future travelers out there. Enjoy your trip and we hope we could bump into each other during one of our future trips.
- Dan Encarnacion