Dreaming of working from the beach for a few weeks without sacrificing a whole month's salary?
A lot of Pinoys are finally planning their long awaited beach getaways this 2022. While most would choose to spend three days or maybe up to a week in Boracay, some are opting for longer stays just to get a change of scenery and maximize trips. In fact, because of the pent up demand from lockdowns and more flexible work, longer trips are becoming a new travel trend.
Travel blogger couple Christian Sangoyo of Lakad Pilipinas, Carla Araniego-Sangoyo of Blissful Guro, and their 2-year old son Akira just got back from a 22-day trip to Boracay, their son’s first flight since the pandemic hit.
They said they picked the top tourist island mainly because of the quality of the beach and the difficulty of planning international travel with a toddler.
“Convenient kasi ang Boracay. Tourist-friendly siya so convenient for us, madali yung galawan. Hindi siya mahirap para sa may kasamang baby. Wala na masyadong transfers, maraming beaches at maraming pwedeng kainan,” the couple told PhilSTAR L!fe.
Before they got married, the pair used to embark on two-month long multi-country backpacking trips coinciding with Carla’s summer break from public school. However, those trips were put on hold as they navigated the journey of parenthood amid the lockdown. And since it's still hard to travel with a child with changing travel restrictions abroad, they settled on a three-week long Boracay vacation to fit their budget.
In an interview with PhilSTAR L!fe, the couple shared some of their budget travel hacks for long-term travel that anyone can apply in their own post-pandemic trips.
Explore alternative accommodations
Hotel accommodations usually make up the bulk of one’s travel budget. For their stay in Boracay, Christian and Carla picked budget-friendly options, including good deals found in booking apps and an apartment rental along Bulabog beach, on the opposite side of the island from the famous White Beach.
“Nagcheck kami ng sa deals with Agoda and Klook. Yung pinakasulit na nakuha namin was P1,500 per night with free breakfast sa Golden Phoenix Hotel, isang 4-star beachfront hotel sa Station 3 na kaka-reopen lang, so may promo sila,” shared Christian. He added that other hotel guests were able to snag deals at P750 per night from the recent Travel Mart.
Carla also has a friend who owns an apartment in Boracay and offered her place for just P450/night. The apartment they rented had a hot and cold shower, an AC room, and a kitchen which allows them to cook.
“Kunyari may friends ka sa lugar, you can ask kung may alam silang apartments o room for rent. May mga FB pages din for Boracay long-term rentals, pwede ka magjoin dun, makakahanap ka talaga ng mura,” said Carla.
While you could easily spend P30,000 (or more) for a three week long stay at a hotel, you can save a lot by staying in an apartment or room for rent instead.
For those who don’t mind spending a bit more for a hotel experience, the couple recommends a few budget-friendly options including Ferra Hotel and Garden Suites, which offers good quality accommodations for P1,500 per night (at the time of their booking).
Eat in carinderias or cook your own food
Food is another major expense when it comes to travel especially with the pricey restos in Boracay. How did they manage?
Long stays are about maintaining the same simple lifestyle you would back home, just in a better setting with easy access to the beach.
“May dala talaga kaming rice cooker at 5 kg ng bigas, kasi pwede ka na magluto ng kanin. Pwede ka rin magluto ng noodles, mag-boil ng egg, magprito, at mag-init ng ulam,” shared Carla.
The couple also brought canned goods from their home pantry including luncheon meat and sardines, to avoid eating out in overpriced restaurants every day.
“Pinakamurang nakita namin na ulam (ex. menudo, adobo) sa carinderia P50 pesos lang. Ang ginagawa namin, kung may breakfast sa hotel, kain dun, tapos pag-lunch, bibili kami ng ulam sa carinderia at magluluto ng kanin. Tapos dinner, bili lang sa palengke at luto na lang.”
The couple recommends buying basics at D’Mall Palengke and the talipapa at Balabag Wetlands and going to carinderias where locals eat for the most budget-friendly options.
While they didn’t have a fixed budget for food per day, they managed to save on rice (which costs P15-20 a cup) and just bought viands which ranged from P50-60. For simple breakfast, they bought pandesal (P2/piece) to pair with the peanut butter and other spreads they also brought with them.
Of course, since it gets tiring to eat carideria food and cook all the time while on a vacation, they also mixed it up by eating in local restos and fast-food joints like McDonald’s or Jollibee, which sometimes have good app-based promos. And since they saved in some aspects, they could afford to splurge once in a while by eating out a buffet at a resort, because, hey, it’s still a vacation!
According to Christian, the cheapest premium buffet they came across in Boracay just cost P450 per head (with children free of charge). Some restaurants in Station 1 also offer buffets at P299 cheapest but with a limited selection.
Skip the activities and just enjoy the beach
The family didn't feel the need to spend on touristy activities like paraw sailing, crystal kayaking, or banana boating as they said they’ve done all those with friends during previous trips. Now the couple prefers to just taking a dip in the beach, watching their son play in the sand, or walking along the shores of Boracay was rewarding enough. Their normal daily routine was just about enjoying the simple island life.
“Pagkagising after cooking breakfast, punta sa beach, swimming, balik sa resort for lunch, tulog si Akira, tapos hapon balik beach ulit,” said Christian.
According to the couple, there are a lot of different spots for beach bums to explore aside from White Beach, including Puka Beach, Bulabog, Diniwid, and more.
For those who want to experience some activities, Christian recommends teaming up with other tourists to split the cost of hourly rentals (ex. for crystal kayaks which cost P300/hour), so you at least get enjoy the experience for a while, without having to pay for a full hour.
Bring all the essentials you can
According to Carla, a lot of essential supplies cost double the price in Boracay, so those planning to stay long should make sure to bring all the essentials they can. This means availing of baggage allowance for the flight. Since they traveled with a two-year old, they made sure to pack everything he would need for the duration of their stay.
“Yung fresh milk na P60 lang sa Manila, P120 sa Boracay. Double the price. So may dala kaming 6 or 7 cartons from Manila. Diapers kailangan dala mo yan. Kahit napkins, tampons, etc. kung alam mong 1 month ka sa lugar at babae ka, magdala ka na rin, dahil doble lahat ng presyo sa Boracay,” she said.
Aside from bringing their own rice cooker, they also brought microwaveable containers for carinderia food to avoid using plastic. For those who need to work from the island, they advice bringing prepaid WiFi as well, since some of the more remote beach areas may not have WiFi. And if you enjoy snorkeling, make sure to bring your own snorkeling gear so you don’t have to rent gear there.
Drink during ‘Happy Hour’
For beer lovers, drinking out is part of the Boracay experience, but this can really drain your budget.
“Kung gusto mo mag-beer sa Boracay, sa Sur Beach Resort along Station 1 yung nakita namin na cheapest na Happy Hour at P400 per bucket, at may buy 1 take 1 for cocktails. Cheapest Happy Hour sa Station 3 is Cocoloco at P70 per beer bottle," said Christian.
The bar at Sur also allows diners to buy food from roaming vendors from the beach without corkage, so you don’t even have to order appetizers or beer chow.
How much should you allot per day for a long stay in Boracay?
While they say it’s difficult to assess an overall budget for a trip like this because people have different tastes and preferences, the couple says it is possible to enjoy Boracay on a budget.
Their cheapest accommodation cost just P450 a night and their food budget usually didn’t exceed P200 for 3 people per day, so it’s possible to survive on P1,000 to P1,500 per day in Boracay.
But while they tried as much as possible to stick to a budget, they made it a point never to haggle especially when buying food from local vendors, since they also want to give back to the local economy.
The main trick, according to the couple, is just to spend only what you can afford.
The budget tips can work in any place, not just Boracay. According to Christian, any place in the country can be ideal for long stays, as long as travelers are not too picky about their accommodations and are really willing to "live like a local."