What to Pack for an Overnight Beach Camping Trip

I recently went on an overnight beach camping trip over the weekend. Since summer is nearing, I decided to come up with a checklist of what I usually bring every time my friends and I would go to the beach for an overnight camping.

It is very important to bring all travel essentials for a beach camping trip since most of the time you will be on an island with limited food, water, and power supplies and access to the main island would require a boat ride. Last year, my friends and I went to six (6) beaches over the span of the entire summer and the list below easily helped me to pack all the necessary things we needed for our trip.

  • CAMPING GEARS
    • Waterproof tent (with poles & rain guard)
    • Sleeping bag
    • Portable light/head lamp/solar-powered lantern
    • Optional:
      • Tarp
      • Hammock
      • Air mattress (if with power supply)
      • Inflatable sofa
  • COOKING GEARS
    • Portable butane gas stove
    • Butane gas canisters
    • Water jug with drinking water
    • Ice cooler with ice (for cold storage)
    • Cooking wares (kettle, pan, pot, pot holder)
    • Cooking tools (knife, cutting board, pair of scissors, can/bottle opener, lighter)
    • Dinner wares (plate, glass, spoon & fork, serving dish & ladle)
    • Cleaning stuff (dishwashing liquid soap, sponge, garbage bag, dish cloth, paper towel)
    • Optional: Aero press (for brewed coffee)
  • DRINKS, FOOD & SNACKS
    • My go to drinks: box of red wine, brewed coffee, wate
    • My go to snacks: brie cheese & Fita crackers, Tostitos chips & dip
    • For food, we buy fresh produce & meat at a local market
  • PERSONAL ITEMS (Click the link for the complete list: http://lheilamendoza.com/my-travel-checklist/)
    • Clothes (shirt, short, sleeping wear, undies, light jacket, socks)
    • Footwear (slipper or waterproof shoes)
    • Sleeping apparel (sarong, long scarf, travel pillow, insect repellent)
    • Swimming apparel (swimsuit, goggles, sunscreen)
    • Basic Toiletries (Soap, shampoo, conditioner, facial wash, dry towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, mouthwash, feminine wash, deodorant, moisturizer, lotion)
    • Basic hygiene & cosmetics (powder, cologne, lip & cheek tint, lip balm, comb, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, tissue)
    • Accessories (eyeglasses, watch, sunglasses, ponytail, earrings, cap)
    • Electronics (cellphones, charger, power bank, blue tooth speaker, headphone, mini fan)
    • Important/Miscellaneous Items (money, waterproof bag, book, pen, notebook, flashlight, card/IDs, plastic bag, medicine/first aid kit, board games/playing cards)
    • Food & water (bottled water/tumbler, gum, sweets)

Enjoy the upcoming summer and set yourself to an awesome beach camping trip with family and friends!

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My Top 5 Philippine Travel Destinations for First Time Travelers

I started traveling in my early 20’s when the Piso Fare promo was first introduced. My twin sister and I (and few of our friends) were pioneer avid customers who availed of such promo. That was the main reason why we got the travel bug early on. At that time, traveling by plane was considered expensive and there was no budget airline yet in the Philippines until Cebu Pacific Air started introducing cheap flights, hence, we grabbed any chance we get to buy a plane ticket every time there’s a Piso Fare promo.

Nowadays almost everyone wants to travel, but some are still having second thoughts of going anywhere primarily because they don’t have any idea where to go, what to do and how much it would cost.

Hopefully, this list would give you an idea of where to go when you start planning to travel around the Philippines. If you are a first-time traveler, I suggest you begin exploring the Philippines. After all, it is more fun in the Philippines and I could honestly say that we have the best beaches in Asia, if not the world.

The factors I considered in choosing the places where first-time travelers could go are the destination’s accessibility, tourist-friendly community and environment, number of attractions to go to, how easy it is to acquire and research online travel information that you will need about the place and its affordability or being budget friendly.

My family in front of The Mansion

1. Baguio City

Baguio has a very special place in my heart because this is where my family had our first family vacation after my older brother, my twin sister and I left home and started working at Manila, but sadly it is also our last family vacation with my little bro, Jojo, before he passed away.

It’s called the Summer Capital of the Philippines because of its cool climate and it is one of the popular destinations to go to since there are plenty of daily buses going to Baguio and you could easily drive a car to get there. The travel time is around 6 hours.

There are many places that you could visit in Baguio like the Mines View Park, Baguio Cathedral, Burnham Park, Camp John Hay, BenCab Museum, Tam-Awan Village, Philippine Military Academy and a lot more. You could also do activities like picking strawberries at a farm or tree top adventure and shop at ukay-ukay or night market. Plus, the food is cheap and delicious!

ATV ride with friends overlooking Mt. Mayon

2. Legazpi City, Albay

Since I am from Bicol, one of the places I bring my friends who visit me is Legazpi City (that is aside from my home city of Naga) for them to see the world famous Mayon Volcano, the only volcano with a perfect cone and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

You can reach Legazpi either by a 10-hour bus (from Manila) or by plane (via Manila or Cebu). There are several flights available from Manila and two flights from Cebu and the cost of the plane fare is affordable.

Aside from viewing the Mayon Volcano from Cagsawa Ruins, you could also go to Sumlang Lake, Daraga Church, Ligñon Hill, Legazpi Boulevard and ride the ATV going to the Black Lava Wall. I also recommend you try sili ice cream at Colonial Grill and eat dishes cooked with coconut milk like pinangat, laing, and Bicol express.

Kawasan Falls canyoneering adventure with cousin and siblings at Badian, Cebu

3. Cebu Province

Cebu is a gateway to lots of beautiful islands and beaches in the Visayas plus they have an international airport making the place very accessible.

Most foreign tourists, who don’t want to go to Manila, fly directly to Cebu. I have been to Cebu a couple of times, but I still haven’t explored all of its neighboring islands like Dumaguete and Siquijor.

There are multitude of places you could visit in the city of Cebu like Sto. Niño Basilica, Temple of Leah, Sirao Garden, Taoist Temple, Tops Lookout, and you could also go around its nearby cities or municipalities like Mactan, Malapascua, Bantayan, Carcar, Moalboal, and a lot more. Cebu is also famous for its lechon and dried mangoes.

4. Bohol or Boracay

I listed Bohol and Boracay together because I feel like they have similar vibes and I honestly can’t choose one over the other. Expect that you will need a higher budget if you want to visit either places because these are famous tourist destinations to the point that sometimes I feel like I am an alien in my own country since you could see more foreigners than Filipinos when you’re there. But because they are quite popular among foreigners, you could find all the amenities and conveniences of a city there.

There are plenty of travel agencies and hotels or resorts that offer tour packages; but if you want to take the DIY travel route, searching information from the internet is quite easy.

Bohol is famous for its Chocolate Hills and tarsiers, while Boracay is popular for its long white sand beach and amazing sunset.

The Philippine eagle

5. Davao City

The first time I went to Davao in 2007, I fell in love with the place and, that same year, I asked my twin sister and older brother to join me for a Mindanao backpacking trip after Christmas. Davao also have an international airport.

The people there are honest, warm and helpful. The entire city is clean and you feel safe despite Davao being bigger than Metro Manila.

The places you could visit in Davao are the Eden Nature Park, Philippine Eagle Centre, The Peak, and Samal Island. You should also eat durian and pomelo from Davao and buy local products like malong and sarong.

P.S. I arranged the places from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

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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 at Atulayan.
  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 someone special.
  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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