Thursday, February 8, 2018

Planning a multi-city trip? Read on

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Wow, where do I even begin? Planning a multi-city trip is a bit overwhelming, especially if you haven't done it before. I have, but it still overwhelms me. It's also one thing to plan for just you and, let's say, your husband, it's another to plan for a whole group. Chances are, the people in your group have different tastes and will want to see different things. Well, I guess you could always split up. There's no rule saying you all have to stick together, right?

This post will talk about just the basics, and not really the day-to-day itinerary. Right now, my family and I are in the process of planning a 3-week vacation in Europe for July-August of this year. It's a short period of time considering we would like to visit so many different cities. 

Here are the cities we plan to go to:

  • Barcelona
  • Lisbon
  • Fatima
  • Rome
  • Florence (Tuscany)
  • Venice
  • Paris
  • Lourdes
  • Back to Barcelona
I know, I know, we're going to be borlog (knocked out) after the trip, but it will be so worth it, for sure. 

So first things first. 

1. Decide when you want to go.

There are so many factors that affect this decision like the weather, or if weather is not that important to you, the budget perhaps? Whatever the reason for your going at a certain time, you have to make a decision when you're going and make sure everyone in the group agrees. 

In our case, we are going to celebrate my mother's 75th birthday, which is in June. However, while looking at ticket prices, we found that it would be a lot cheaper to go in end of July to mid-August. So, even if it's going to be hot, we decided to go for it. Also, June to August is summer break for my nephew Yeshua, who lives in Guam.

2. Decide which cities you want to see.

Ideally, we'd rather have plenty of time to explore just one particular area. But let's face it, when we travel, especially long distance, we want to make the most out of the 21-hour flight and check off as many places on our bucket list as possible. So in our case, we'll be spending 2 nights in Lourdes, 3 nights in Barcelona, Lisbon, and Rome, and 4 nights in Florence and Paris. 

3. Book strategically-located accommodations. 

This is a bit tricky, because we all know that accommodations in the city center or close to attractions are the most expensive. If you're on a tight budget, you might have to settle for something a little outside the city center. 

Thankfully, there's public transportation. So keep in mind that being close to metro stations or bus stops could save you a lot of walking. Also, if you're into eating cheap, having a supermarket nearby or a neighborhood deli will help you save money. 

Whenever we go to Fukuoka, we always stay in the same Airbnb apartment. In fact, we're staying there again in March. Well, different apartment unit but same apartment building. It is not in the center but in a more quiet neighborhood. What we love about this place is it's close to public transportation, convenience stores, restaurants, an awesome bakeshop, and a 24-hour supermarket. 

4. Planes or trains?

Decide whether you want to fly or take the scenic route. I discovered that it's cheaper to fly (within Europe) than to take the train. For us, flying is the best option since it saves us both time and money. We only have 3 weeks, and even if we love riding trains, we just can't afford it this time.

5. Figure out how you'll get around.

Does the city you're visiting have a metro system? How do you get to the city center from the airport? How much does a one-way or return ticket cost? Do you buy a metro card? Or is it cheaper to buy one ticket at a time? These are only some of the questions you need to know the answers to. Reading about the city's or cities' public transportation system could save you time and money. Also, remember that you'll be dragging your suitcase around, so it's best to prepare ahead of time by doing research.

6. Set a budget.

Last but not the least, set a daily budget for yourself. How much are you willing spend per meal? How many times a day do you plan to eat out? Are you going to cook? Also, take into consideration transportation expenses. Unless it's a highly walkable city like Florence, it's going to cost you money to get from one attraction to the next. Setting a budget really helps me determine how much of my spending money is for food, transportation, attractions, and shopping. 

Saturday, February 3, 2018

I-travel mo na lang yan, bes

I have often been witness to friends posting borrowed, sappy quotes on their social media accounts, that make them look, well, desperate, for attention. While I can never be certain of the intent behind the post, I can only work with what I see, and all I see is desperation. And let me be the first to say, "Maybe he's just not that into you."

Remember the famous quote from an episode of Sex and City? Well, this is so true. A guy, unless he's really "torpe" or timid, would tell, or at least show you, right away that he's interested. Forget Mr. Darcy. He was never real and you know it. Don't think that just because you have secret (or not-so-secret) feelings for him, that he feels the same. 

Men and women are wired differently. Women could be on their deathbeds and still not profess their love for someone. Men are different. They don't waste time moping. They do something about it. 

What I suggest you do, i-travel mo na lang 'yan, bes. Instead of moping and posting quotes about how you can't help what you feel, go and travel. It's an activity that never disappoints. And who knows? Maybe you'll meet that guy who will make his feelings for you so clear there wouldn't even be a need for words.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Travel Room Wasters

Disclaimer: This post is intended for budget/coach travelers and not those who can afford to travel business/first class, stay at fancy hotels with porters, rent cars with drivers instead of take public transportation.

I have been reading a lot of travel blog posts recently in preparation for an upcoming trip. I came across the term room wasters in one of the blog posts I read (sorry, I can't remember which one), and thought to myself how many room wasters I have brought with me on my trips, whether domestic or international. 

I have come up with a list to help you avoid filling your bag with these room wasters to make packing a more enjoyable activity, and to make your suitcase a lot lighter. 

When traveling, keep in mind that you will have to forego some of the luxuries you enjoy at home. You have to be able to live a simpler life. Realistically, you won't have space for countless outfits anyway. Remember, bring pieces of clothing that will work overtime for you - which means you should be able to wear them more than once and should be able to pair them with other pieces. Anyway, let's begin. 

1. Statement tops and bottoms

I know you want your Instagram followers to see you in that super chic top you bought at the neighborhood vintage store. However, a statement top doesn't really blend in, it stands out. Meaning, if you don't want to seem like you're always wearing the same top, you should opt for a more basic, classic cut. Believe you me, you will hate yourself if you bring clothes that you can only wear once. 

2. Stilettos/boots, etc.

You're dying to wear those sexy stilettos together with that LBD that accentuates every curve. However, you're forgetting that when you travel, you're going to be doing a LOT of walking, and not all streets are paved. What if you end up in a desert? Stilettos and sand or cobblestones don't go together. I would also suggest you leave the boots at home, especially if you're thinking about bringing a pair of dressy, pointed ones. Like what I said earlier, make your clothes and shoes work overtime. Boots take up so much space that it would be a waste to bring them if you don't intend to use them all the time. 

3. Hairdryer, hair and curling irons

Unless extremely necessary, like if you're attending a wedding, an awards ceremony, or any event that requires dressing up, leave these hair paraphernalia at home. They are such space wasters and are quite heavy as well. Chances are, you'll always be in a hurry to leave your hotel room/apartment anyway, that you wouldn't even have time to use these. One tip: make sure you sport a low-maintenance haircut before you go on that trip. It will save you a lot of time. 

4. Excessive makeup, skincare, and hair products

Channel your inner low maintenance girl. If she's not in there, channel even harder. Just bring smaller versions of the essentials. There's really no need for all of those makeup products. A lipstick, cheek tint, powder, eye liner and mascara will take you from day to night. Besides, when you travel, especially in the summer, the lighter the makeup the better. You wouldn't want to sweat your foundation now, would you?

5. Heavy coats/leather jackets

Unless it's winter or your attending a Harley Davidson convention, leave the heavy coats and leather jackets at home. My rule is -0 to 15°C thick coat 16°C to 22°C trench coat. 23°C and up, you can just use a cardigan or a light jacket. Of course this really depends on your cold tolerance.

6. Unnecessary gadgets

Again, unless it's really needed for the trip, I suggest you leave unnecessary gadgets at home. Not only are they space wasters, they are also extremely heavy. If you feel like, at any point on your trip, you will need to write emails, etc., then perhaps a portable blue tooth keyboard is what you need. I bought one in Japan, and I use it to write articles, etc., with just my phone and a Microsoft Word app.

If you love photography, you can take wonderful photos using a wide range of point-and-shoot cameras, or even just your mobile phone. Photos I took with my Samsung Galaxy S4 and Note 5 were good enough for a glossy business magazine to publish. 

7. Paperbacks

I know, I know, some of you think it's a crime to read e-books, but believe me, you'd be glad you have a few saved on your phone instead of actual books weighing down your backpack. And if you're a fast reader, you can read as many books as you want during your trip. Although, would you rather read a book than explore a new place you've never been? What's the point of taking the trip then?

8. Multiple handbags

I know that a lot of women have bags for different occasions and outfits. However, one clear sign of a travel neophyte is having multiple bags when you travel just so you'll be photographed wearing them (wearing? using?). Maybe we can compromise. Bring two - a tote (or backpack) and a sling bag that can go from day to night. Chances are, you won't be needing that beaded or sequined clutch. Again, make your clothes, shoes, and accessories work overtime. 

 All it takes is a little discipline and a lot less self-love. If you follow my tips, you will never ever bring room wasters again.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Packing Light Toiletry Edition

If you read my previous post, you know by now that I could never really live out of a carry-on suitcase when I travel for more than a week, not because I consider myself a fashionista, but because I need space for souvenirs and pasalubong (if I feel like buying). 

However, if there is one thing I learned from being a budget traveler all these years, is that you save weight on the things you can. One aspect of travel on which you can save weight is your toiletry bag. 

If you're particular about the products you use on your skin, chances are you bring a toiletry kit filled with your own shampoo, conditioner, and various skincare products. I don't advice against this, because I also do it myself but for other reasons. While I don't have sensitive skin, I do have a sensitive wallet. 

Most of the time, I stay in apartments not hotels. Unless specified, chances are toiletries are not provided by the hosts. So in order to save a few bucks, I bring my own toiletries. But, I never bring full-sized tubes and bottles. That's why I always bring home travel-sized soaps and shampoos you find in hotel rooms. I also buy refillable travel containers for my facial and body lotion.

So don't look like a travel neophyte by bringing full-sized toothpaste tubes, lotion, and shampoo. Always remember, the lighter your bag, the more stuff you can buy. 

Thursday, January 25, 2018

How to Travel Light - No Seriously, How Do You Do It?

I have been toying with the idea of bringing just a carry-on suitcase on a 21-day trip this July. I know, I know, it's still a ways away, but I am already dreading the thought of lugging around a full-sized suitcase along cobblestone streets, and hauling it up and down the stairs. 

Many people have written about how it is possible to live out of a carry-on suitcase for three weeks, a month even. I read a lot of these blog posts and every single one of them shows a picture of an overstuffed backpack or small suitcase, with no room to spare if you want to do a little shopping. Also, do these people not know that the same number of clothes take up more space once worn? It's like you can never fold them the same way. Ever. 

So, what gives? Do these people not shop at all? Do they discard pieces of clothing before they go back to their respective countries? 

I once traveled to Singapore with a couple of friends from college. One of them brought extremely old clothes to be discarded on the last day. But old clothes that you're ready to give away? I would like to look good in my photos. 

I guess bringing just a carry-on suitcase is a bit too extreme for me. Even if I know I will never have the money to do a lot of shopping, I will still need extra room for a few souvenirs here and there. So for now, I have decided to bring a medium-sized suitcase - big enough for all my clothes and with room to spare for souvenirs. By the souvenirs I mean food.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Why It's Important to Declare Baby When Booking Accommodation

I know it's common practice in countries like the Philippines for people to book the smallest and cheapest possible room and not declare the correct number of guests, especially if those extra guests are children. Hotel rooms tend to be quite expensive, and paying for extra people would definitely rack up the bill. 

But why is it important to declare babies when booking a hotel room when they take up very little space anyway? We have to keep in mind that not because some establishments tend to not follow rules, doesn't mean others do the same.  

Some countries/cities have very strict rules when it comes to maximum occupancy. I remember a few years ago, when I was at a cafe somewhere in Los Angeles, our group asked one of the staff if we could put another table outside since all the tables were occupied. We were told that they couldn't add more tables because of the strict maximum occupancy rule. 

I know this has nothing to do with hotel rooms, but the same rule applies. Also, I read in a parenting forum that it is important for the hotel to know the exact number of guests in case of a catastrophe  for insurance purposes, and in case of an emergency - for first and fire responders.

The only thing I don't get, however, is why charge so much when you include a baby. 

I found this out, firsthand, while booking an apartment in Lisbon. The same apartment costs PHP 10,000.00 (USD 196) more for 3 nights with 6 adults and 1 infant than it is for just 6 adults. Why is that?

I really wish someone would enlighten me. Although, despite the added cost, it is still vital to declare the correct number of guests. You wouldn't want the hotel or apartment staff to turn you away now, would you? Where would you go? 

Remember, you're on holiday to relax, have fun, spend time with loved ones, enjoy good food, and immerse in local culture. Don't ruin it because you want to save a couple of hundred dollars.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Tips on Booking Accommodation

Planning a multi-city trip these days is easy enough. You don't even need a travel agent to do it. Everything you need is available online. This blog post will focus on one of the most important (and expensive) part of your trip - your accommodation.

A budget traveler's main concern, when booking any type of accommodation, is price. However, there are many other things that you need to take into consideration before clicking the "book it" button. Is the hotel/apartment you're booking accessible enough - meaning is it close to a metro station? Are there elevators? Is it near supermarkets, restaurants, convenience stores, etc.? Is the neighborhood safe? How far is it from the city center?

Below is a list of things you need to keep in mind when booking.

1. Read the fine print.

I recently booked an apartment which I thought was a steal. I read the "Read Me I'm Important" part, and found nothing weird. However, after booking, I checked the booking information and found out that, to secure the booking, I would have to wire money to them - (which I found weird, considering it was a "Free cancellation" booking and the fact that it also said the credit card already secured the booking. Also, the management requires a Euro 500 deposit, to be paid in cash, upon arrival. The deposit is double the amount of our whole 3 nights' stay. Something didn't feel right, so I cancelled the booking.

2. Free cancellation is love.

I could never emphasize this enough. Whenever I book any type of accommodation, whether a hotel room or an apartment on Airbnb, I always make sure I can cancel it within a reasonable amount of time before arrival date without paying a cancellation fee. If you're booking via or Agoda, always look for these words - FREE CANCELLATION, so you can cancel your booking free of charge if your plans change.

If you're booking an Airbnb apartment, always read the cancellation rules. Will you get a full refund or only 50%? Do you have to pay the service charge or not? 

3. Pay later instead of pay now.

Always remember that it is possible to reserve a hotel room without paying up front. Many have the "pay later" option, with no difference in price. So be sure to click "pay later" if you'd rather pay closer to the date of your stay.

4. Airbnb, Agoda,

When booking any type of accommodation, use your better judgment. Ever since I started using Airbnb in 2014, I have almost always booked with them. Airbnb apartments tend to be cheaper than hotels, and if you're traveling as a group, you could save even more money.

However, Airbnb always charges you right away, whether it be the full amount or 50%. If you're still saving up for your accommodation and would rather pay later, then it's best to use Agoda or Remember, you can also find apartments on both Agoda and

Also, make sure you check the rates on both booking sites. The same hotel room/apartment might be cheaper on Agoda or vice versa, or sometimes, you get different results from the same searches. I discovered this just today. I had booked an apartment, which my sister-in-law Anne found, using Agoda. She searched for an accommodation for 6 adults and 1 child and Agoda found a nice 2-bedroom apartment for us. However, when I did the same on the website, it wanted me to book an extra room because apparently, the 2-bedroom apartment can only accommodate 6 adults. This was for the same apartment. Is the baby supposed to have his own room? Clearly, Agoda's search parameters are more flexible than's.

5. Always check the accommodation's distance from city center.

I get that you want to save money. But chances are, you only have a few days to spend exploring the city, and wouldn't want to waste your time riding trains and buses. Of course, using public transportation is part of being a tourist. But if you're going to spend hours commuting to and from the city center each day, then it's really not worth it. Decide for yourself how much time you are willing to spare on train rides every day.

6. Are there supermarkets, restaurants, etc. near the hotel or apartment you want to book?

If you want to save money, then book an accommodation with a supermarket nearby. If you're a foodie and want to try local dishes, make sure there are restaurants around. It really depends on the kind of traveler you are. Ask yourself what you think is important be within reach while staying at your hotel/apartment.

7. Read reviews of the area where you plan to stay.

It is not only important to just read the reviews of the hotel/apartment where you plan to stay. Make sure you read reviews of the area as well. Some cities may seem glamorous to people who have never been there. But remember they are not all glitz and glamour. There are areas that may not be safe for, let's say, a solo female traveler. Be street smart and always use your common sense. Never let your guard down when you're in a city you're not familiar with.

8. A host cancels your confirmed booking. What now?

I believe everything happens for a reason, and when a host cancels your confirmed booking, just see it as a blessing in disguise. It's not the end of the world. That happened to me just this morning. When I saw an email from Airbnb saying the host had to cancel, I couldn't sleep anymore. Airbnb didn't offer any explanation, which I found strange. But, thank God we found a much better apartment, this time on Agoda.

9. Plan months ahead.

Booking your accommodation 6 months ahead could save you a lot of money. Remember, the closer it is to the date of your arrival, the more expensive it gets. Maybe for some of you money is no object, but for most of us, every penny counts.

It is quite stressful planning a trip on your own. However, that is part of the excitement. Enjoy the experience and don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help.