My Essential Travel Apps

I read a topic about insights on millennial travelers being tech-savvies, traveling the local way and sharing the experiences through social media platforms. As millennial, we value experiences over material things, and we prioritize self-growth over career advancement. These are relevant on why and how I travel in the first place and now I understand more the importance of sharing my valuable travel experiences to others through social media platforms in order to inspire and serve individuals who possess same ideals that I have especially when it comes to traveling.

Hence, I am sharing with you my essential travel apps that I always use when planning and organizing my travels with the hope that you may find them useful for your future travel plans.

The links lead to the website where you can find where to download the app (usually located at the bottom part of their website with App Store or Google Play icons)

FLIGHTS

Since I am from the Philippines, I normally book my flights from these airlines and I am also registered in their travel rewards programs to earn points and get free flights. I am pretty sure most airlines also have their own apps and travel rewards programs.

I mainly use Skyscanner to compare costs of flights and flight schedules from all airlines with specific dates and destinations in mind. Then I visit the airline website to actually purchase the plane tickets.

For South East Asian destinations, Traveloka provides defined but wide range of travel needs in their platform. 

ACCOMMODATIONS

I started using Airbnb since 2014 and so far, all the places I stayed at were amazing and incredible. It is a cheaper option than staying at hotels and it feels like it’s your home away from home.

Although I prefer Airbnb most of the time, I still use Agoda and/or Booking for hotel or resort accommodations if I don’t find the perfect place to stay at from Airbnb. Plus these sites offer lots of discounts and promos in partnership with credit card companies, which I always avail.

ACTIVITIES

If you are new with DIY travels and don’t want the hassle of researching and finding legitimate sites to book your travels, Klook provides you all the travel conveniences for booking travel activities and transportations (at a higher, but minimal cost).

Tripadvisor was the first website that became popular as a platform for travelers in need of information and recommendations regarding travel-related inquiries.

EXPLORATION/GETTING AROUND

I use Google maps to get an idea about the travel time I need to allocate for my trips, and it provides detailed information when I travel using public transportation.

I use Waze for driving around the city, especially in Metro Manila so as not to get lost and to be aware of traffic and other advisories.

TRANSPORTATION

If I am not riding public vehicles for convenience purposes, I use Grab (in the Philippines) and Uber (outside of the Philippines) as my go-to app for transportation.

  • Country-specific public transportation app

Another thing I do before I travel abroad is to download apps of the public transport system of the country I will visit (mostly for first-world countries), which are very helpful and useful to get around the country I am visiting.

WEATHER

Checking the weather before and during your travel is important to be prepared of what you need to wear and bring for your trip.

REWARDS PROGRAM

I recently discovered this app since, as a millennial traveler, I purchase and shop using apps or online and with every purchase using the link through this app, I get a cash back.

  • Airline Rewards Program

Because I travel regularly, I registered with airline’s rewards program and indicate my account every time I purchase my airline tickets to get reward points. I use my points to purchase tickets for free or at a minimal cost.

Even though I regularly use the above-mentioned travel apps every time I plan for my trips, I still avail the services of trusted travel agencies from time to time and I do inquire from my friends who are locally-based at the place where I am going for recommendations, suggestions and tips about accommodations, places to visit, where to eat and how to get around their place.

On a final note, I just want to share with you the infographic below about the insights on millennial traveler behavior I got from a blog site.

*P.S.: Some of these apps I shared provide personal links, which would offer you discounts for your first booking or purchase and give me rewards or points if you use my link.

Share Button

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) & grill (with coal)
  • DRINKS, FOOD & SNACKS
    • My go to drinks: box of red wine, brewed coffee, water
    • 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 aqua shoes)
    • Sleeping apparel (sarong or malong, 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/perfume, lip & cheek tint, lip balm, comb, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, tissue)
    • Accessories (eyeglasses, watch, sunglasses, ponytail, earrings, cap/head gear)
    • 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!

You may also watch the video versions (of this blog) via my YouTube channel: https://youtu.be/kbbuXZL0saM (First Part: Personal Items)

https://youtu.be/TS4Yr_vVNVI (Second Part: Camping & Cooking Gears)

Share Button

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.

Share Button

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 office mates. Every time we plan a trip, both local and abroad, I always end up being the one who does 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 birth dates 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 office mates), 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, transportation 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 web page 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 transportation), must have a WiFi 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 DWTL-W 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.

Share Button

Road trip to the Province of Sorsogon

It all started with a Piso Fare and a longing for a beach getaway… Everything seemed hopeless because all potential flights I searched were sold out.

One of my travel buddies, Doreen, suggested a backpacking trip to Subic Island, Sorsogon during the 2012 Chinese New Year holiday with a cheap budget. Since I’m a ‘dakilang kaladkarin’ and itched to have a travel escape, I immediately said yes! 🙂

We invited some of our friends in Law school whom we know are available (since all of us are just waiting for the Bar result): Kendi, Chris, Trina, Karen, and Adolf accepted our invitation. I also asked my cousin and 2 of my nephews to tag along.

Luckily, Chris’ dad is the PENRO of Sorsogon who managed to arrange our boat ride and food all for free! 🙂 Also, my parents allowed me to use our car for our roadtrip. So, we managed to spend around P220 each for the entire trip (exclusive of our fare from Naga to Legaspi and back) for the gasoline (P1k), driver’s fee (P300) and entrance fee (P35 per person) at the hot spring resort.

OUR ITINERARY:

7: 30 am       Travel from Legazpi to Matnog, Sorsogon
10:30 am      Boat ride to Subic (Liit) Island, Sorsogon

11:00 am   A sumptuous lunch of Ginataang Langka, Crabs, Grilled Fish and Grilled Liempo plus unlimited rice & coconut milk. Then lots of swimming!

1:00 pm     Travel to Juag Fish Sanctuary

 

3:00 pm      Back to Matnog, Sorsogon
4:00 pm      Roadtrip to San Benon Hot Spring Resort at San Mateo Sorsogon
5:00 pm      Swimming in the Hot Pool
6:00 pm      Travel back to Sorsogon City
7:00 pm      Travel back to Legaspi/Naga

It was indeed a FUN trip! An unforgettable spur-of-the-moment travel getaway that I’ll forever cherish.

Share Button