I had my summer vacation in the Philippines last May 2017, and coming back to Qatar… summer heat is just about to take its peak this June!
And three weeks after setting my feet on the sandpit again, it was a good feeling to be able to share my experiences on that loaded solo flight. Since my eldest son is almost always busy somewhere… yes, I’m always going solo. And ahhh, that’s already a sign that my boy isn’t a baby anymore.
But when i thought that solo traveling is boring, I was amazed when i realized that it was even quicker, easier, and more convenient to go around alone. Here are some of the tips for an enjoyable solo vacation:
Spend a staycation in the city.
Summer is about sea and sand. But going to the islands, especially if not prepared well ahead, could be too costly or inconvenient. Costly, since the airfare could cost double than the regular fares if booked afront. Inconvenient, since the cheaper alternative would be a land-sea travel which is possible, but will give you long travel time.
So the closest thing that can do is to check-in to a nearby hotel which offers the same luxury and almost the same feeling.
If you are in Alabang, try Azumi Boutique Hotel. It’s one of the most stylish 3-star hotels located just 30 minutes away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. One of best infinity pools you would ever see… and it’s the millennials pick for a day or night shoot. A plunge over the salt water pool with a combination of the city and mountain views are just as good as a resort getaway. More of my Azumi blog post here.
Indulge on a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) City tour.
Since I am from Quezon City and an OFW at that, i don’t know much about Taguig area except for our church at Every Nation The Fort, and few other malls like Market! Market!, Bonifacio High Street, and SM Aura. Since we don’t have Big Bus just like in many other cities abroad, going around is a bit challenging. But with a little help from blogs, videos and other online references, you will be able to course your own route perfectly.
I intentionally booked an Airbnb at Mckinley since the BGC area is almost fully booked. Fortunately, i found a nice place which resembles the beautiful Venice Canal complete with the amenities i needed and a lifestyle mall for shopping and food. Most of the time, the coffee shops provided a faster internet connection when uploading my blog.
As i was looking for the not-so-common spots in the area, one particular blog suggested to go around McKinley to check out the international schools in the area, the booming BPO industry as well as the night spots at Burgos area, and the street arts all around BGC. Even a side trip to the American cemetery was unplanned yet provided a wonderful experience for me. More of my BGC blog post here.
Try online delivery and online shopping.
Convenience has never been so real to me than during this vacation when i practically had most of the things i needed right at my doorstep… from Grab car to food delivery.
I was also able to try shopping at Lazada.ph, an online shopping mall for all your needs: from body and health, electronic gadgets, fashion and accessories, etc. Delivery was fast, packaging was very efficient, and quality of the products are, well… depends on the brand and price that you are choosing. It will really take a lot of reading and comparing before finally deciding on your purchase. But it is sure to give physical shopping a serious competition in the future. More of my Lazada blog post here.
Visit some of the nearby food parks.
Looking for a different night life or craving for different kinds of foods in one stop? Probably, these are the very idea of the many food parks sprouting around the metro. A good ambiance with a smorgasborg of delightful and mouthwatering food – from appetizers, rice meals, desserts and many other specialties. All are instagram-worthy and food presentations are really very impressive. While the choices are many, you would most likely not find it on another food park… and that gives you even more options to explore!
I have several post about the food parks that I’ve visited. Check out this roundup of food hubs and try it yourself. More of my Food park blog post here.
Treat yourself to a spa.
We used to visit Wensha Spa in Timog Avenue or Manila Bay every time we are on vacation. Not only it is very affordable (i believe the price hasn’t change for years at Php880 or roughly around QR65 only), the package includes the use of spa facilities, an eat-all-you-can buffet food, and an hour of relaxing massage.
But my exposure to instagram introduced me to some of the newest and trendiest places in the Metro. I got to pick out some of the ideal places to include in my itinerary even few months before my actual vacation.
Experience “Hongkong-like” shopping and dining in Divisoria and Binondo.
Aside from the fact that one of pinoy’s long-dated tradition of “pasalubong” (keepsakes), i also find it pretty amusing that a lot of bloggers recommend Divisoria shopping for a trendy and inexpensive stuffs.
Ladies will definitely like this itinerary for more OOTDs (outfit-of-the-day) and beauty products/accessories, while gentlemen can still find it interesting to buy some car or electronic accessories which are usually available in Lazada but at a more cheaper price in Divisoria. More of my Divisoria blog post here.
Save abroad and splurge back home.
Ooops! It might sound like an unwise tip but what i mean is that collecting points and incentives while abroad can earn you more spending credits when you go back home.
For example, as an Airbnb host, i rent-out my condominium to fellow OFWs and other travelers. Occasionally, i also enlist some friends to try booking their accommodation via Airbnb and that’s where I get my travel credits. Click here and get your own Airbnb discount on your next travel.
Just like what happened when i stayed at the Venice Luxury Residences in Mckinley. My own condo was booked during the first week of my vacation so i have to fill the other dates with activities to make me busy. After listing some personal errands from Quezon City to Cavite City, i decided to book at the luxurious venetian condo in order to accommodate my schedules around BGC area.
I booked for 3 days which cost Php1,700/day and i only paid almost Php1,000 pesos after deducting all my travel credits. Aside from that, being “intentional” on what i do, it was also an opportunity for me to learn from other Airbnb hosts. My host was a korean businessman who runs a leasing services company in BGC area. He owns few condominium units and enlist few other units to be leased-out on short term basis. I was particularly impressed on how his Korean-style door lock system works and i was thinking of adopting it to my unit soon. More of my Airbnb blog post here.
Appreciate your own place. Comfort and enjoyment might just be within reach.
There’s no place like home.
In most mornings, i found myself dipping at the pool. It is during the early morning of weekdays when the pool is less crowded. Sometimes i ask some relatives to come over and enjoy swimming with me. I was particularly thankful to some of my relatives and friends who would agree to see me somewhere close to my place for convenience. It doesn’t only save me time in traveling but also allowed me to accommodate more meet-ups. It was on these extra efforts and consideration for my time that i felt extremely blessed.
Since i’m staying near the mall, i usually go around there for lunch, dinner, or grocery. I was able to see a lot of Japanese and Korean restaurants and retail outlets now available for pinoy k-pop fans and lovers of Japanese food. My studio unit in Quezon City is also available for rent. Click this Airbnb link to check out availability.
Tryout the Jeepney, Grab Car and MRT
While in Manila, i recommend going around using these three modes of transportation. The jeepney gives you a cheaper ride around the metro. But they have designated routes and you have to be familiar with the stops. Minimum fare is around 10 pesos i think, as i usually pay 20 peso bill and only get few coins as change.
Grab Car is my favorite as it is the most convenient way to go around the city, point to point. Via an app that you have to download on your mobile phone, you can book a cab (private and clean car). The fare is fixed, will pick you up from the entrance of your condo/place, and will take you wherever you want to go safely. They even have promos for a discounted fare at times.
MRT (Metro Rail Transit) on the other hand runs along EDSA – the main thoroughfare to major commercial points in the city. MRT can save you the trouble of going through hours of traffic especially when it’s raining or during rush hours. However, be ready to fall in line, sweat a lot, and be squeezed-in by other commuters inside the train.
There are good developments however, like free wifi facilities in all stations and a beep card which will not only save you from falling in line but can also be used in some buses of even transferring to the LRT (Light Rail Transit). There are also PTP (point to point) buses operating non-stop which cuts down travel time especially for daily commuters. I also noticed several transport terminals providing convenience to commuters going to Cavite (like the one near Dusit Hotel).
Traveling alone and having a limited budget shouldn’t limit you to have an enjoyable vacation. To summarize everything, make sure to do these simple steps :
- PREPARE / RESEARCH – nothing beats earlier preparation. Even with the last minutes changes, you can still pick-out what’s applicable or not depending on your preference.
- DRAW YOUR ITINERARY SCHEDULE – doing a daily calendar will make sure that you will be able to finish your priority tasks first. Proper scheduling will also show you some available time to insert meet-ups and other personal errands.
- SET A BUDGET – This spells everything. Just like in everything that we do, in traveling or in investing, and most of the things in life – what we want depends on how much we have (iba ang “gusto” sa “kaya”). With the itinerary that you have prepared earlier on, you may check out which one fits the bill. The “save now, splurge later” tips could help you enjoy your vacation more. Having more alternatives during your preparation stage will give you options to make sure you will still have a vacation-to-remember.
As they say, you never had a good vacation when you only have few words to describe it. For me, though i had a limited time and budget, i was able to bring home a basket full of good memories. I can remember having a few flops like some important meet ups that were rescheduled or not done as planned, a hotel invitation that i regret to decline due to conflict of schedules (will definitely go there next time), and more bonding time with my son. But as it is, it was already a blast!
I'm a Christian, a husband and a father, a Filipino expat in Qatar, entrepreneur, aspiring blogger, freelance real estate consultant, lover of anything KOREAN, an adventurer.