We love to travel, it’s not only a part of what we are, traveling is actually who we are. Yet before we achieve a sense of familiarity in this quest, there were stumbling blocks and bitter taste of unfortunate blunders along the way, “rookie mistakes” as others aptly term it.
But with 36 provinces under our belt out of 81 magnificent provinces of the Philippines, in just a couple of years since we began this journey, a feat hindered by the surge of this pandemic, we finally somehow grasp and understood some basic concepts and tenets of traveling within our beloved Philippines.
And these are our personal notes we would like to share to our naïve travel selves, if only there is a time machine existing. And we do hope, these bits and pieces of information can actually help your journey if one day you would want to step foot in and explore our beautiful country.
1. DO. YOUR. RESEARCH.
Like in war, one should never tread new places empty handed. But hey, we are not even referring to carrying of offensive weapons or defensive shields, heck it would be impossible to leave the airport or enter for that matter. But rather, we are more concerned on arming ourselves with an adequate knowledge of the locality, its people, practices, culture and tradition. Yes, this tip may somehow be a no-brainer yet often overlooked out of excitement and over-complacency.
For instance, our first travel together in Dapitan City, Zamboanga Del Norte was not only memorable but also full funny bloopers and nerve wracking moments. Oh how we extremely love the place and the memories we created there but unfortunately, our 3-day stay did literally burn so many holes in our wallets and pockets. We carried a minimal amount of money on the assumption that provincial life equals lesser cost. Later did we know that everything about this province is relatively pricier considering the distance of their locality to the place where they primarily source out their food and other items. On our 2nd day of stay, we had to contend ourselves with a loaf of Gardenia sliced bread we had to sneakily smuggle inside the hotel room to avoid corkage fees. While we basked in the beauty of the 5-star resort we were staying, our “upset” stomachs needed to resist the temptation, taste and the aroma of well-cooked gourmet meals. Thank God we already paid for the hotel room a month in advance, including the daily buffet breakfast, or our stomachs won’t ever forgive us for making them suffer every dinner and lunch.
Tips are almost always welcome but while in Benguet, I almost disrespected an Ifugao without deliberately doing so to which I am already deeply sorry for. It was our first time to travel in Baguio but unfortunately the Strawberry Farm in La Trinidad was not yet ready to accept strawberry picking customers for lack of ripe strawberries to pick. So I asked our driver to somehow allow us to take a photo in the field to which he obliged. Coincidentally we were brought to the area where there were ripe red strawberries tended by an Ifugao farmer. Upon learning that we were from Cebu, she allowed us to pick three strawberries for picture taking purposes. Out of excitement and extreme happiness, I handed her an extra Php100 as a tip for allowing us to enjoy an activity which was unavailable to the public but she declined. (Take note that we already purchased two kilos of her fresh produce at the time.) I didn’t know that my insistence already pestered her since most of them are not accustomed to tips. They really are naturally kind people whom I have great admiration and respect for.
Look how important it is to familiarize your first or next travel destination before breaking new ground, and this leads us to Tip #2.
2. Plan ahead.
Imagine if we did not book a room and paid for the breakfast buffet in advance, it will probably take more than just a Gardenia Loaf Bread to satisfy our needs and we could have end up sleeping in the plaza at night or washing dishes for unpaid hotel bills. We merely relied on our personal assumptions about the place which WAS A HORRENDOUS ROOKIE MISTAKE and with lack of research, we failed to plan properly.
Although, we have read some tips that paying for your food upon order saves a lot of moolahs on booking costs, we still prefer to book a room with breakfast in advance. Why? Having something which is one less of a worry during the actual trip is much more precious for us than the exact amount that can be saved from the booking costs. Peace of mind is priceless my dears and you can thank us later.
See, the second step in traveling, after research, is knowing yourself and your budget. Travel can be expensive or affordable, depending on your choice and preference. How much you are willing to spend initially determines the type of accommodation you will be billeted into, the kind of activities you will want to enjoy and the number of days you will be staying worry-free.
Travel is a personal experience that guarantees personal joy and satisfaction. But to ensure maximum enjoyment minus the mishaps and the headaches, it’s best to familiarize your self and get acquainted with the locality and plan ahead.