One of my ultimate wishes was to travel abroad with my loved ones, especially with my family. As such, I’m forever grateful that I was able to pull off our 5-day family vacation in Hong Kong and Macau early this year.
I reckon almost all Filipino families desire the same, hence I’m sharing the following tips to make everyone’s dream a reality, too.
Note: These are generally applicable to all destinations, but I’ll be using our recent trip as an illustrative example.
Ngong Ping Village, Hong Kong
Tip #1: Learn to Love Seat Sales.
Our roundtrip tickets (Manila to Macau/Hong Kong to Manila) were a fruit of a local airline’s seat sale last July 2018. Take note, though, that the travel period was nine months from the booking date. I didn’t really mind since it gave me more time to save up and plan our itinerary. The gist is the power of seat sales to fulfill the family’s dream vacation without spending too much on airfare that could compromise your travel savings. This can be nifty for big families.
They say seat sales are hard to beat, and I won’t argue with that. It’s not rocket science either. In fact, over the years I’ve developed a knack at booking seat sales (yes, I’m proud!). Here’s what you’ll need, basically:
- a stable Internet connection,
- a credit or debit card activated for online payments,
- ample time and knowledge on online bookings,
- astounding patience, and
- LOTS OF LUCK.
I recommend subscribing to newsletters from various airlines and following them on social media to get ahead of upcoming promos.
Gondola Ride at the Venetian, Macao
Tip #2: Book Your Accommodation Early.
I booked our accommodation five months beforehand in order to get cheaper rates. Some might say I was too excited, but nope, I’m just FRUGAL! And because of that, I was able to book rooms at a casino hotel for roughly Php1,500 per person.
If budget hotels are scarce at your destination of choice, you may opt to stay at an apartment for rent instead. The bottom line is to save in any way you can. Remember: more savings means more funds for FOOD, hurrah!
Princess Ariel during the Night Parade at Hong Kong Disneyland
Tip #3: Take Advantage of Booking Apps.
I constantly check booking apps to get the best deals on activities abroad. With my persistency, I was able to score “Play & Dine Disneyland Adult Tickets” (entrance and combo meal) for only Php3,500 per person (down from its regular Php4,100 price). In total, I saved Php3,600 after purchasing 7 Disneyland tickets. I also availed of Ngong Ping 360 tickets at Php400 less than its original price for even more savings! Get my point yet?
Visitors waiting for the “We Love Mickey” Projection Show
Tip #4: Prepare Your Travel Documents Ahead of Time.
Missing indispensable documents could result in you losing everything you saved up for, including your hopes and expectations. As such, it would be better to prepare these particular documents ahead of time to avoid unnecessary fiascos:
Reminder: Some countries require a 6-month validity on passports.
There’s nothing to worry about, though, since the Department of Affairs (DFA) already has an effective appointment system for new applications and renewal, where schedules are bountiful and you can pay for the processing fee upon booking your slot. Also, some DFA branches have courtesy lanes for senior citizens, PWDs, minors, solo parents, OFWs, and government employees.
- Visa (if required)
Filipinos do not need visas when traveling to Hong Kong and Macau; we are allowed to stay visa-free for 14 and 30 days respectively. (Here’s a website that gives easy access to visa requirements for over 200 countries, though.)
- Travel Authority
Government employees traveling abroad need this, regardless if the trip is for an official business or pleasure. To learn more about qualified offices / agencies, visit the Philippine Bureau of Immigration’s official website.
- DSWD Travel Clearance
Filipino minors (17 years old and below) who are traveling alone or with people that aren’t their parents need to present Department of Social Welfare & Development (DSWD) Travel Clearance to the immigration upon departure.
- Medical Certificates for pregnant women
Some airlines require declaration of medical certificates from pregnant passengers, so make sure to read the carrier’s specific policies on this.
Reminder: Immigration Officers might ask for other supporting documents for your trip, as well, including hotel reservations, confirmed return tickets, proof of local employment and financial capacity.
Aside from these four practical tips, there’s a need to save earnestly for your travel funds. Consistently setting aside a penny or two will eventually turn into a thousand.