It’s summer time! It is the season when we see multitude Facebook, Twitter and Instagram posts of our friends who are busy traveling; they could be on the beaches, mountains or even Bali, Indonesia! And just like me last year, you may be also contemplating how these people do it. Even those friends we brand as ‘rich kids’ find it hard to go on vacation once the school factor is considered. But, man, these people have the time to escape the city and enjoy tourist destinations.
Many of us are fascinated by the idea of being ‘wanderlusts’ through exploring the Philippines, Asia or even the world. But, we are still students. We are supposed to go to school, listen to lectures, take exams and pray to St. Jude every Thursday to pass our most dreaded major subjects. We have a lot of things to consider like school schedule, availability of anything, travel buddy and most especially the budget.
In 2015, I started traveling in the Philippines while studying Marketing Management in the De La Salle College of Saint Benilde. When I first thought about it, it felt impossible to achieve. But, after multiple times of escaping school during term breaks, holidays and weekends, I have come up with some useful tips on how to reach your dream destinations even if you’re still a student.
1. Get inspired. Act on it.
Yup, this is such a pageant patty statement but I have to credit a former schoolmate who frequently posted his backpacking adventures in Southeast Asia. It lit a fire in me. I set a goal and told myself that, “Hey, I can do that. I want to do it, too. I will travel from Malaysia to Vietnam in one month covering seven countries.” Luckily, after careful planning and saving-up, I am scheduled to do my Asian backpacking adventure on August. I’m so excited for that. 🙂 But, just like any other expert, you have to practice many times to perfect your craft. That was when I decided to start solo backpacking in the Philippines to prepare myself being alone in foreign countries. For someone who’s introvert and not used to social interactions in Vigan, I have already come a long way transforming into a dude who enjoyed local parties in Siquijor!
2. Have a Fund for Unexpected Seat Sales.
Some would say that choosing a destination is the first step in being a student-wanderlust. But, based on experience, when you are a student, schedule and budget are always tight; you don’t always have a choice. My first solo backpacking trip destination was because of a seat sale. Cebu Pacific had a sale and I was lucky that I had extra money from my allowance. I was able to book it ahead of time. The total fees I paid for a Manila-Laoag roundtrip ticket was just 900 pesos! I always suggest friends to have a fund for surprise sales from airlines. Subscribe to them via email and social media accounts. You’ll never know when they will have a seat sale. One of the sweet deals I got last year was my Boracay airfare. It only cost me 200 pesos and that’s roundtrip! So, I got two. One for December, another for April. Thanks AirAsia! 🙂 But, the sweetest deal perhaps is my Batanes fare for only 1,000 pesos one way ticket from Skyjet. Though, I’m still waiting for a return flight seat sale, it’s okay, I’m patient.
And no, you do not need a credit card to book flights. All airlines can receive payments via 7/11. So, yeah, you book your flight online and pay it via the nearest convenience store.
3. Google is your best friend. Research. Research. Research.
One thing I really like about traveling is the planning part. When I’m stressed out from creating marketing plans and financial forecasts, I open my travel file and think of the things I want to do for my next travel destination. The ‘basics’ I search for are the places I want to go, restaurants, place to stay, modes of transportation, and weather. All these things must be properly planned to save money and time. Just like with what happened to me, I wasted 500 pesos in a Langkawi-Kuala Lumpur flight after I found out that the train from KL to Bangkok would take too long to arrive on time for a flight to Phuket. If I did my research well, I would discover that I could go straight to Bangkok from Langkawi which could save me time. So, yes, just ask Google if you are unsure of anything, there are so many bloggers out there who are very much willing to assist newbies like us.
4. Hostels are safe and clean. Don’t be scared.
Filipinos have this idea that traveling is expensive because staying in hotels costs a fortune. I was really like Jon Snow who knew nothing because I had no idea hostels existed. Hostels are establishments that provide inexpensive food and lodging for a specific group of people, such as students, workers, or travelers. But, my fear of people put a hold back on experiencing hostels. It took me some time before I had the courage to book my first hostel. Surprisingly, the best travel experiences I’ve had were meeting other travelers sleeping in bunk beds. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone, I get to meet new people because I really have no choice, and I only pay 400-500 pesos for a night of stay compared to hotels which are normally double the price. I’ve heard travelers say, “You only use the place to sleep. Why splurge on it?” Having a beautiful hotel room makes you want to stay there all day. And we wouldn’t want that to happen, right?
5. Have a copy of your school calendar/Philippine holidays.
I believe this is one of the reasons why traveling works for me. My school is super organized that it’s able to release a schedule of breaks until 2018. So, every time there is a sale, I always book for flights after the last day of school. I already have plans for the rest of 2016. But, do not get disheartened if your school can’t provide that. You still have the Philippine holidays to plan for. On holy week, you can go to Baler. A three-day Ilocos trip would be perfect for an Araw ng Kalayaan holiday. Philippines has so many holidays. You’ll find the perfect date for you. You just have to have a place in mind you want to go so when schedule and budget permit, you are good to go. Run away as fast as you can!
6. Frugality is the key.
Let’s admit it. All these tips won’t work if we don’t have enough money to fund our travel. But, it’s not impossible to overcome. You just have to adjust your lifestyle and get motivated enough to save money for your next travel. When I book a flight to a specific place, I still do not have the money for the hotel and other expenses. I budget my allowance to save enough for other expenses. Do you remember my 200 peso airfare to Boracay? I booked it 4 months in advance so I had time to save 1500 pesos for my hostel. Your pocket money depends on the activities you are going to engage in. Raising funds is another concern. I suggest you save money from your allowance. But if it’s not enough, try doing online jobs or projects of your classmates (just make sure you don’t get caught.) Remember, if there’s a will, there’s a way!
7. Prioritize school.
Traveling is fun but passing all your subjects is more fun and way cooler. I personally use traveling as a way to relax and be more mentally prepared for my school requirements. It could also be a reward for doing a good job in academics. I mainly use it as a motivation to be better in class. It’s not fun to travel when you have at the back of your mind the fear of failing a class. School should be the priority and have travel as a way to cope up on things. Even when you are already working, everyone needs a break and something to look forward to. Just imagine yourself surfing in Siargao after passing all subjects from the previous term. Divine!
I hope I somehow gave you ideas to start your very first or next travel adventure. There are more tips I guess but these are the only ones I could think of. If you have other suggestions, just put it in the comment box. See you down the road!