How to create a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Travel Itinerary

One of the things I love and enjoy doing is making Do-It-Yourself (DIY) travel itineraries for my upcoming trips. I am a self-proclaimed group travel organizer of my family, friends and officemates. Every time we plan a trip, both local and abroad, I always end up being the one who do all the planning from ticket purchasing, accommodation reservation, itinerary, and booking of activities and transfers.

I personally prefer doing my own travel itinerary as opposed to booking my trips through travel agencies to spend less and to have total control and freedom regarding the places I want to visit and activities I want to do.

This is my guide on how I usually plan my travel and the preparations I do before arriving at our destination and coming up with a travel itinerary complete with budget and website links.

First step: Have a Travel Bucket List

List down the places you want to visit and the potential dates when you want to visit them.

I have a personal bucket list of things I want to do before I die and most of the things listed in it are places I want to visit all over the world. At the start of the year, I will look at my bucket list and write down at least 4 places (2 local and 2 foreign trips) I have not been to or I want to go back to. Then I also write down the potential travel dates when I could do my travel putting into consideration the long weekends and the remaining vacation leave I have.

For 2019, my travel goals are Cebu, Bangkok, Japan, and Batanes or Siargao. Some of the 2019 long weekends are Feb. 2-5 (Chinese New Year with one day leave on 4th of Feb), Feb. 23-25 (EDSA People Power), Apr 6-9 (Day of Valor with one day leave on 8th of April), and Aug 17-26 (Ninoy Aquino day and National Heroes Day with four-day leave).

Second step: Book a flight.

Now that you have potential travel destinations and dates, you must book a ticket for your flight. (Side note: Make sure you have an approved visa before booking a flight for countries requiring visas)

I usually wait for promo fares of budget airlines and use apps like Traveloka and Skyscanner to find cheap or affordable flights.

Make sure you register and have an account of your favorite airlines and save the complete name (as appearing in passport) and birthdates of your travel companions, and travel rewards program account number when you are booking your flights.

For 2019, I have flights booked going to Cebu (in February with friends and in March with officemates), Japan and Singapore with family and Thailand with cousins and siblings. In August, I am also planning to do a local backpacking trip with friends.

Third step: Do a lot of research.

After you booked a flight wherein you have actual destination and travel dates, it is time to do a thorough research about your accommodation, places you want to visit, eat at or activities you want to do, transportations you need, and contacts of tour providers. It takes me around four hours of browsing and researching and I bookmark all the websites I will use in making my travel itinerary.

Factors you need to consider in doing your research are budget, duration of travel, the number of people traveling with you, and the activities and places you want to do and visit.

Usually, I would just visit Google and use keywords of the place I will visit, the number of days and itinerary (e.g. Malapascua 2-day itinerary). I also look at the date of the blog post, which should at most be a year old. Then from there, I just click away until I find all the information I need and satisfied that I got everything covered.

For accommodation, I use Airbnb, Agoda and Booking apps or websites. I likewise visit the webpage of the hotels or resorts to read about the facilities and services offered by them. The things I consider in choosing an accommodation, aside from the price, are location accessibility (to stores, restaurants and public transportations), must have a Wi-Fi and a clean bathroom. I also look at ratings and reviews to make sure that the establishments provide good service to their customers.

Final Step: Make a travel itinerary.

I use Excel in doing my travel itinerary (because it is easier for me to do the budget computations). Once everything is finalized, I convert it to a PDF file.

Below is a sample of the itinerary I made for my upcoming Malapascua & Kalanggaman trip with friends.

The title includes the place of destination and the travel dates.

The details I write down in the itinerary are as follows (starting from our flight departure until arrival of our return trip): dates, time, activities, items and costs involved, the amount per person and remarks or website links. At the bottom is the total individual budget each person will incur for the entire trip excluding pocket money.

Your final travel itinerary will be very helpful in booking your accommodation, transportation and activities. It will also provide you with an overview of your trip and guide you with your travel schedule. Lastly, you will have more fun and less stress during your actual trip since you were the one who planned everything.

Additional travel tips:

Create a group chat (with your travel buddies) where you could discuss and share details and document files about your trip.

Save all your travel documents or files like hotel reservation confirmation, flight bookings, ticket purchases, and itinerary in your mobile phone. For easy and fast access, I use the Dropbox app and save them offline in one folder.

I hope this blog help you make future travel plans and, if you have questions or suggestions, make sure to leave a comment below.

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My 2018 Highlights

Happy New Year!

2018 just ended and looking back I can honestly say that it was one of the best years of my entire life! There were few bumps along the way especially dealing with my anxiety and insomnia, but overall, I feel grateful and blessed because of the people I met, the things I did, and the places I went to. So here are 35 highlights of my 2018:

  1. I suffered from a stress-induced anxiety.
  2. First time to have a date with a total stranger/foreigner! 😊
  3. First road trip to Atulayan beach
  4. Met a new set of travel buddies from Australia, France, Germany, Philippines, South Korea, and US.
  5. I went on a road trip to Lola Sayong at Gubat, Sorsogon where I got to taste the best tom yum I ever tasted in my entire life courtesy of Chef John!
  6. First time to attend the National Convention of RTC-COCAP at Manila Hotel.
  7. First time to experience winter at Seoul, South Korea with the family.
  8. First time to travel and beach hop at Burias Islands of Masbate.
  9. I went for a swim at Panicuason Hot Spring and Malabsay Fall
  10. First time to visit a cockpit arena and watch cockfighting.
  11. Birthday salubong at Camarines Norte with friends after our beach trip at Parola Island.
  12. Birthday celebration with my beloved Pamilya Kalabasa at home.
  13. I was able to watch the Lion King Musical with RockInah and twin sis.
  14. I went on a trip to Bohol with a special someone.
  15. I attended the 44th Pre-Judicature Program at Cebu City and passed the exam!
  16. I went to Hong Kong to spend quality time with my family and relatives.
  17. I watched Bruno Mars concert live with VVIP ticket together with my twin sis!
  18. I am halfway finished with my Master of Laws at San Beda University.
  19. Spend Mothers’ Day celebration with the entire clan at Hi-way 411.
  20. I went to Atulayan island for the second time with officemates.
  21. I went to Siruma for two nights of beach camping.
  22. I swam with whale sharks at Oslob, Cebu (my third time to swim with whale sharks)
  23. I went canyoneering with siblings and cousin at Kawasan Falls.
  24. I spent Fathers’ Day with the entire family at Hibiscus Camp and Deer Farm at Ocampo, Camarines Sur.
  25. I went on an ATV ride with gal pals overlooking Mayon volcano.
  26. Second time to have a date with a total stranger/foreigner! 😊
  27. I cancelled my trip to Melbourne, Australia due to the NAIA runway closure (caused by Xiamen Air plane overshoot)
  28. I attended the IBP Bicolandia Regional Convention at Naga City.
  29. I attended Sam Smith live concert!
  30. I went on my first ever solo trip abroad to Melbourne, Australia.
  31. I went on a romantic trip to Pattaya, Thailand.
  32. I went to Tagaytay with fellow Branch Clerks of Court for a seminar.
  33. I was granted a 10-year multiple entry US Visa!
  34. I attended and witnessed six (6) weddings this year.
  35. I learned how to do my own make-up.

P.S. I list down 35 because that’s my age in 2018. 😊

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Almost halfway around the sun

Last week, I had the chance to read my previous blogs and it gave me nostalgia to be able to reminisce about the fun things I did in the past and the insights I shared in my blog. Hence, I am inspired again to write and post my thoughts for my own reading pleasure.

So far 2018 is way better than what I hoped it would be.

At the start of my year, I suffered from stress-induced anxiety attacks and it scared me so much that I did not know what to do. I really can’t explain what I felt, but I had terrible headaches that would last the whole day and night and my heart was beating so fast for no apparent reason. I realised that I was working too much at the office, then I was still teaching after office hours plus I was travelling to Manila to attend classes for my Masters of Law.

Good thing I have very supportive family, friends and colleagues who helped me surpass whatever it was I was going through. I had to take some time to just chill and relax. After work, I went to Basilica church to pray and attend mass. I had some dinner and drinks with my long time friends. I chat and conversed with people who cared about my well-being. I attended JVP Naga Local Chapter activities. And I found a new set of friends whom I get to travel with (a lot) and who constantly remind me to have fun from time to time.

I am filled with joy knowing that I was able to do my passion for travel! In just a span of 4 months, I went to the beaches of Atulayan (twice), Gubat and Subic, Sorsogon, Burias islands of Masbate, Parola Island at Camarines Norte, Bohol and Cebu. I also went to South Korea and Hong Kong to spend quality time with my family and relatives. I went for a swim at Panicuason Hot Spring, Malabsay Fall and Hi-way 411. And it was a first for me to be at a cockpit arena to watch cockfighting! This month, I will still travel to Cebu with my siblings and Garchitorena with friends.

My love for learning also took a chunk of my time, which made my life more fulfilling. I attended the RTC-COCAP National Convention at Manila Hotel and the 44th Pre-Judicature Program at Hotel Elizabeth in Cebu. I am also halfway finished with my Masters of Law at San Beda University.

Finally, building new friendships with people I’ve met from different countries and with various nationalities made my life more enjoyable and interesting. I gained friends who do volunteer works from Australia, Germany, South Korea and US. They remind me of my JVP year where being of service to others is one of the things that leads me towards my real purpose in life.

Sometimes, with each passing day, we are too busy making a living that we forget to live our life.

May today be a reminder that we must live our life to the fullest and make every moment count. Let memories of the past and dreams of the future inspire us in our pursuit for genuine happiness.

I am really blessed and grateful with all of the things that is happening in my life and to think it is only almost half of 2018! I have plenty to be thankful for and I am looking forward with a happy and positive heart to the second half of the year.

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2018 Currently

I was supposed to do a Sunday Currently for the New Year’s Eve because it fell on a Sunday, but I ended up just laying on my bed watching bunch of movies on Netflix. My family and I had a 2-week travel in Australia for the holiday and I was dead tired coming back home. Year 2017 has been amazing overall with few struggles along the way like most people do experience in their lives. For me, one of which, is to diligently write and regularly post on my blog! 🙁 However, considering that the reason behind such failure is because I enrolled for my Masters in Law at San Beda College were I need to travel to/from Manila once or twice a month (while simultaneously having a full time job and two part-time works). Netflix and travels abroad were the other causes of my inactiveness to post blogs.

But for year 2018, one of my personal goals is to revive this blog site for the nth time! Writing is one of my passions in life and this is one way of expressing myself and living up to my motto in life, i.e. to inspire without reason.

So here it goes…

Reading I have around 5 books that I either borrowed or bought and I haven’t managed to read any of them. Honestly, I listened to one audiobook (Ready Player One) last year and that was it! I want to go back to my old habit of reading at least one book a week and that is one of my goals for 2018.
Writing This first blog post for 2018.
Listening ‘I Did Something Bad’ by Taylor Swift. Honestly, I love all the songs in TS new album, Reputation. She does not disappoint.

Thinking of work starting tomorrow. 🙁 I have lots of pending deadlines, which I need to finish by the end of the week.
Smelling Jo Malone’s Peony and Blush Suede. My new fave scent.
Wishing for the incessant rain to stop. Philippines has been struck with 3 typhoons this month of December 2017 where there were heavy flooding and landslides.
Hoping to accomplish my 2018 goals I set unlike last year’s goals that I sadly failed to achieve.
Wearing Plain blue green shirt (from Giordano) and Elephant-printed pyjama, which my Dad bought from Bangkok, Thailand.
Loving Cadbury’s Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Beanies that I bought from Sydney and unfortunately unavailable in our country.
Wanting my last month’s salary and benefits to be credited to my account ASAP. I just found out a day before leaving for my Australia trip that I need to submit a certification of my return to work after my travel abroad to our HR, otherwise my salary will be withheld. Sad to say, it has not been credited yet due to the holidays.
Needing winter clothes for my upcoming trip to Korea in a few months.
Feeling blessed. No words could sum up how grateful I feel for all the wonderful blessings I received throughout my entire life!
Clicking YNAB (You Need A Budget). I really need to control myself from impulsive shopping spree and settle all my outstanding credit card balances. The struggle is real!
Watching  ‘The Sinner’ series on Netflix starring Jessica Biel.

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The Sunday currently, volume 14

Today was the 7th birthday celebration of my god-daughter/niece, Frances, at Avenue Convention Center. It was a lot of fun filled with games and delicious food! Last Friday, 8th of September, was also Mama Mary’s birthday and Traslacion, which marks the start of the 9-day novena for Our Lady of Penafrancia and Bicol’s fiesta. The faith of the Bicolanos is amazing and inspiring. There was multitude of people who attended Traslacion that filled all corners of Naga City. Such an honor to be part of this community. Also, I was trying to finish my action list for the week, unfortunately, the software application I need to use did not cooperate. Hence, I decided to end my day with this post.

Reading I bought a book entitled “Next” by Michael Crichton at Booksale yesterday, which I plan to read this week.
Writing The Sunday currently, volume 14. Obviously.
Listening ‘Feel It Still’ by Portugal. The Man, which I heard several times in Alfie’s (aka Pointlessblog) vlogs on Youtube.
Thinking none because my mind is tired (as of the moment).
Smelling Baby Ace, my nephew, who has been sleeping on my bed beside me since Wednesday. 🙂
Wishing for less traffic and stress-free drive this coming Bicol Fiesta week.
Hoping to attend the Bicol Blog Academy classes I saw on FB.
Wearing Plain white sando and blue polka dots pyjama both from Uniqlo.
Loving ‘Ina’ aka Our Lady of Penafrancia, Patroness of Bicol.
Wanting a new American Tourister or Samsonite carry-on trolley bag.
Needing rebond after cutting my hair short.
Feeling grateful for all the wonderful news & blessings I have received this week.
Clicking Buzzfeed.
Watching  ‘Gypsy’ series on Netflix starring Naomi Watts.

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