Most people don’t usually peg me as the traveling type as I am neither loud nor adventurous but alas – I have the travel bug. In hindsight I’ve caught it growing up because my father took us to various places around the Philippines, especially Mindanao.
I grew up reserved, sociable enough to be polite but very careful with whom I associated myself with and often preferred my own thoughts as company.
Faith, my friend from diapers, is the same way. We’ve traveled many times together in school trips, family outings, vacations sponsored by our godmothers (we share 2 godmothers) but never by ourselves.
So when I told my family about the impulsive decision I made with Faith, their first reactions were:
“Pang gawas pud mo sa hotel ha?” (At least get out of the hotel, okay?)
“Ayaw pag dala ug libro.” (Don’t bring a book with you.)
“Pagsyur mo uy!” (The closest I can think of is “Are you for real?”)
“Kaya ninyo?” (Can you guys do it?)
This isn’t a travel guide blog entry as much as it is a way of narrating how I travel, to where, with whom and all the preparations made prior to the trip. But if it helps you at all, my heart will rejoice.
I’d like to reiterate that Faith and I are slow travelers and on a low/mid-range budget. We like to take our time, absorb the beauty surrounding us, but also occasionally walk fast to prowl Adidas stores to find the exact pair she saved up for.
First step in our budget travel was to score cheap flights. My round trip ticket (DVO-SG) cost Php7,000 this is with checked in luggage of 15kg back and forth. Faith’s only cost Php5,500. We both booked via Cebu Pacific.
Tip: Subscribe to budget airlines’ emails. Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and sign up for their customer loyalty programs. This way you can monitor any upcoming promo deals. It’s best to have flexible travel dates because the seat sales have different travel periods that might not suite your intended plans.
Second, we came up with a list of places we wanted to visit. Are you interested in history? Arts? Gardens? Extreme outdoor adventures? Do your research and carefully plot their locations. Remember to put aside money for entrance fees, if applicable. This detailed list of Singapore’s must-see sites along with the addresses, operating schedules and fees will be of great help: Click here
This does not mean micro-planning every waking moment, it’s just to help you maximize your stay by avoiding unnecessary trips back and forth.
Third, choose the right accommodation. Now that the must-sees have been plotted, you have an overview of which area is best for you to stay in.
As much as possible, choose hotels/hostels near MRTs/bus stations as it will save you energy and time.
It is important to keep in mind that Singapore’s train station is well-connected through-out the whole city-state so if your ideal place to stay in is way over your budget, you can opt for other hotels with rates better suitable for you and just make good use of your train passes.
Faith and I stayed at 60s Hostel in Little India. Three nights cost us Php1,885/person. We booked in their Chinatown-themed room with 10 other ladies. I highly recommend this hostel because their staff is nice, rooms are regularly cleaned, and there are curtains for each bed so you have a sense of privacy in a room of 12.
Fourth, prepare documents needed. The Philippine passport is ranked one of the lowest in the world’s most powerful passports so for me it was a natural thing to over prepare but whatever passport you hold, please make sure all required documents are readily available to ensure a hassle-free experience in immigration.
Aside from the required passport, return ticket and valid ID, I actually secured a bank statement (printed off from my online account in BDO), an approved recreational leave form, a company contract stating my salary and my paid booking in 60s Hostel via Agoda.
The immigration officer asked me a few questions regarding the stamps already on my passport – Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
I could sense her suspicion as she pointed out to a senior officer that my ticket only cost Php 7,000 but again referring to my previous international stamps, and after asking who I traveled with (I then pointed to Faith who was behind me in the line), they let me through. She did not ask me for the additional documents I mentioned.
Go and have some fun – whichever way you like, so long as you respect the customs and culture of the place you are going to.
Remember there are no foreign lands, only foreign people. (Robert Louis Stevenson)
This is an overview of all my expenses:
We went to a lot of free sites so those won’t be listed here. I will be postiing a detailed itinerary later.
|SG – Day 1|
|Sim with 100GB data||32|
|Taxi and Dinner||Sponsored by a friend|
|SG – Day 2|
|1 Pizza slice (Mustafa)||1.5|
|Provisions (Water, biscuits, etc)||25|
|Singapore Art Museum||10|
|Chinatown Hawker Center||3.5|
|McDonald’s Spicy Wrap||5.5|
|SG – Day 3|
|Hawker Center in LI||5|
|Komala Indian Vegetarian||8|
|McDonald’s Spicy Wrap||5.5|
|SG – Day 4|
|Total||PHP 2,170||SGD 222.5 (PHP 7,565)|
Airplane roundtrip ticket: PHP 7,000
Accommodation for 3 nights: PHP 1,885
Total expenses: PHP 18,620
There you have it. We went by with a relatively low budget, considering Singapore’s one of the most expensive countries in Asia.
If you’re thriftier, you could do with so much less than PHP 18,620.
See, it doesn’t really matter if you’re not considered the “traveling type”. Or if you don’t fit a certain stereotype. If you know something’s good for your soul, work hard and go for it.
So yes, this socially anxious introvert managed to travel with no adult supervision (without having a meltdown) and is now preparing for her first solo trip – 4 days in Ilocos! Stay tuned and happy traveling.
P.S. I did bring a book!
P.S.S. I got lost in Orchard Rd. two times in separate days and was on the brink of crying because I could not figure out where the train station was.