The pandemic hit the Philippine tourism industry hard. When you opt to travel locally, not only are sating your thirst for adventure, you are also helping support struggling businesses and workers who rely on tourism for their income. What's more, touring the archipelago instead of going abroad can help you save much of your hard-earned travel budget while still letting you enjoy world-class destinations.
Believe us. You can roam around the Philippines on a tight budget. Read our tips below to help you prepare and look forward to all the trips you can take after the pandemic.
Spend around: Php1500-2000
Airlines with domestic flights such as Cebu Pacific and AirAsia offer piso-fare seat sales all year round. As a rule of thumb, book your trips months to a year in advance, which may bode well for you in this case. Airfare consumes such a huge portion of one’s travel budget that many experienced travelers book whatever affordable flights are available and then plan their trips around that destination.
A well-timed booking could get you a roundtrip flight to and from Cebu for less than 1,000 pesos –– normally, it would cost five to six times that amount.
But with the current pandemic situation, make sure that your bookings are refundable, convertible to a travel fund, or, at the very least, changeable.
Pro-tip: Book flights in the wee hours of the morning when online seat reservations will have just refreshed. Since most people are asleep, booking websites will also load much faster.
Take the RORO Route
Spend around: Php1000–2000 pesos
Did you know that you can take a bus from Cubao to travel practically anywhere in the Philippines? It's called the RORO or Roll-On/Roll-Off system. A bus headed to a destination like Iloilo, for example, will just embark and disembark ships.
If you're not in a hurry, you can save thousands on airfare costs since a last-minute flight to the same destination could set you back some Php3,000. Not only is it cost-effective, but it's also scenic and a leisurely method that not many travelers take.
Pro-tip: Bringing easy-to-eat food for the trip, such as cup noodles, sandwiches, biscuits, or other snacks. Just like a plane, RORO food can have high mark-ups.
Join Social Media Travel Groups
Spend around: Php4000, all in, for trips to Calaguas, Aurora, Sagada, and Caramoan–the most popular joiner destinations.
Planning on traveling the country solo? It may help to join a travel group. Several Facebook groups organize trips to popular tourist and adventure destinations all over the Philippines. These groups are usually headed by mountaineers or frequent beach-goers who open their travel pack to “joiners” who pay to be a part of their trips.
If you’re traveling in a small group or flying solo, this arrangement could be more beneficial since communal expenses, like boat rides and guides, are split among more people. Travel groups also provide necessities like tents, cooking utensils, and guides. You can also meet new friends this way!
Check out Facebook pages for Gala Outdoors PH and Feel Good Traveler for more details.
Pro-Tip: Being friendly goes a long way in making the experience positive for everyone. You may have just found your new regular travel buddies.
Consider staying in hostels and guesthouses
Spend around: Php1000-1200 for a two-night stay
Luxurious accommodations are great, but if you're a bit more cowboy, then you might want to try staying in hostels and guesthouses. These places are geared towards other backpackers and budget travelers, and are, in a way, nice venues to socialize, trade tips, and make memories.
If you're adventuring most of the day and just using your accommodations for sleep, then you can use the money saved from hotels for other activities. Fancy lodgings in Boracay, Cebu, and El Nido can go for tens of thousands of pesos a night, but because these are top tourist destinations, you're sure to find some highly rated yet affordable hostels as well.
Pro-tip: Visit TripAdvisor or backpacker forums! They have all the inside information on hostels and group homes, not just in the Philippines, but also anywhere in the world.
Spend around: Php300–400 per day
Befriending locals can uplift your traveling experience wherever you decide to travel in the Philippines. Aside from lowering your trip costs, they provide unique, insider access to holes-in-the-wall and off-the-beaten paths. Locals can guide you to the less touristy and therefore less expensive parts of the town for accommodation. They can also recommend cheaper ways of getting around. Plus, they know the best restaurants and dining experiences to try. You can also gain a lifelong friend.
Pro-tip: Offer your experiences as a local, too. Should your hosts decide to travel to Metro Manila or wherever it is you call home, don’t hesitate to return the favor. This only fosters more goodwill between you and your host throughout and beyond the duration of your stay.
When the opportunity strikes, get out there and embark on a new adventure. That said, it is important to remain prepared and protected for all possible situations as you discover new places. Give yourself and your family some peace of mind while you are away with FWD’s Accident Bundle – offering the best of both worlds with lifetime protection and worthy investment that helps you fuel your dreams and chase adventure.