Planning may be the hardest part of the whole summer vacation outing, but it is also the most important step. It is in the planning stage where you can arrange things and look forward to a smooth and rewarding vacation trip! Basic travel plans includes consolidating your family’s or friends’ schedule and then deciding on where to go, how to get there, and how long your vacation is going to be. But you can take the extra mile and follow these 10 simple tips for a hassle-free and budget-friendly summer vacation!
1. Plan as early as possible and do your research!
It is better not to rush in planning your ideal summer vacation. Why? Because almost everything will be costlier during the last hour! Try to search for places that are not mainstream destinations—virgin beaches, local restaurants, etc. Some interesting places even have zero or very minimal fees such as public parks, zoos, and museums. Navigate your chosen destination through the internet and know routes and transport systems. Know where the market, hospitals, and police stations are, and take note of the necessary emergency numbers.
Your research should end in a checklist of things you need to know: lodging, food, transportation, fares, activities, operating hours, security, etc. Finalize your list of places to visit and schedule. Then you can calculate the time, days, activities, and overall budget for your trip. But don’t forget to include time and budget allowances just in case something unexpected happens. Knowing you are ready for emergencies can help you feel at ease and realize that dream relaxation time.
2. Try not to schedule your trip during the peak of summer season; Be flexible with dates.
Expect that almost everybody will be traveling during the summer break—people will be on out-of-town trips, staycations on hotels, and even road trips. Resorts, hotels, theme parks, and even some restaurants increase their prices when a lot of tourists and vacationers are expected, especially during the summer season. In the Philippines, you can assume that weekends during the summer break will be the worst time to go. It is best to set your plans during the weekdays, when most people are working in their offices.
3. Prepare an organized itinerary.
An itinerary (plan route) is not just a list of places where you want to go—it is a battle plan! Include schedules and foreseen expenses, timetables, and ways of traveling from one place to the next. Also indicate the activities you will be doing accordingly.
Start with Day 0 or the night before. Include waking and travel time, the expected departure and arrival hours, dining options, and transportation alternatives. An itinerary is very important if you want to stick with your schedule and budget and yet be prepared for unexpected circumstances.
4. Scout for cheaper accommodations with better amenities.
Some people prefer staying in the nicest, 5-star hotels during vacations because they consider resting in a luxurious bedroom with the best amenities crucial to a relaxing and fulfilling break. But if you just need somewhere to crash in after a whole day of traveling and activities, you will find that hotel inns, bed and breakfasts, and backpacker dorms, which have cheaper rates, will be alright for you.
Make sure to choose lodging places that have tight security, clean beds and restroom, and good ventilation and source of light. Remember as well to select those that are accessible to transportation, markets, and hospitals.
Another option is a house for rent, especially when you are vacationing with your whole family. There, you can be all together in one whole private space and enjoy amenities like a living room and a kitchen. Imagine being able to prepare and cook for your meals—and significantly slash your budget for food.
5. Visit not-as-popular destinations
Most people will choose to go to default summer escapade locations such as Baguio, Boracay, Tagaytay, and the like. Try to look for places that are not as popular as the go-to summer destinations. These places may not be as developed as the trendy tourist spots, but they are most likely available for lower prices, and, with fewer tourists in the place, you will surely find there the serenity and relaxation that you are craving for. The Philippines is a very beautiful country with lots of captivating places to explore. With more than 7,000 islands, the archipelago still has many unspoiled beaches and other hidden destination gems for you to discover.
Photo courtesy of Mariah Aira
6. Be on the lookout for promos, coupons, and deals.
Airline companies usually offer promos for the summer as early as six months before the season. But sudden fare discounts for summer trips are also offered during January to early March. Be sure to check airline websites during these months and book during seat sales and promo periods (Tip: Some airline websites tend to price you more when they see you browsing for plane fare rates regularly, so search in incognito browser.)
Traveling in groups can also help you reduce travel cost. Some airlines and hotels offer discounts for group purchases.
7. Reserve a car rental or walk around.
Commuting in unfamiliar places may be a hassle. Getting lost and being cheated on fare rates in public transport can be time-consuming and can also make you overspend. Don’t completely rely on asking for directions from locals and using online maps. Renting a car, especially when you plan to visit many places, can save you time, money, and effort. Just be sure to check the background of the driver to ensure a hassle-free and overall safe trip.
If the places you plan to visit are just adjacent with each other, try to explore places by foot. Walking around not only saves you money, but also allows you to experience a “personalized” walking tour, minus the pay.
8. Go to the grocery store or public market as soon as you can.
Buy food, toiletries, snacks, and other essentials from the local grocery stores. This tactic will let you pack lighter (see next tip) and avoid buying overpriced things at tourist spots and hotels.
9. Do not over pack. Travel light.
When traveling via plane, overweight baggage can cost additional charges. Pare down to the essentials. Maybe you can do without that extra pair of sneakers or that little black dress? Can you imagine enjoying your trip with lots of bags to carry? It will be easier for you to move around when you bring just the essentials—no ifs and buts.
10. Have a souvenir strategy to avoid impulse buys.
One of the major causes of overspending is buying souvenirs and pasalubong. Instead of buying lots of overpriced keepsakes, you can simply collect stamps or tickets, take lots of pictures, and make a travel scrapbook when you get home! But, if you can’t resist buying things to bring home to loved ones, or if you have a collection to grow, opt to buy from local vendors who make the souvenirs themselves. This way you are not only helping the locals but supporting the whole local tourism industry as well.