THE days have gone by so quietly you haven’t noticed it’s the month of March. No big deal, right? Not if you’re indifferent to the sun, sea and sky.
Otherwise, you’d be surprised to know that March officially heralds the summer season. And that can only mean one thing: travel.
Of course, summer and travel are synonymous, and, therefore, it begs the question: what are your travel plans for the summer?
If you’ve answered “none yet,” you’re probably not alone, which gives you some reason not to panic. Still, you’d be stuck in one place (read: home) for the whole summer, while everyone’s out there. Sounds like a real bummer, no?
But don’t fret. Yours isn’t a hopeless case. You still have roughly three months to work on your out-of-town vacation. So here’s a few tips to help you plan:
Check your funds. If you haven’t planned for a vacation, chances are funds are a problem, especially if your idea of travel is a trip abroad or to some far-flung, touristy destination in the country. If you have the cash, then go ahead. If not, then check the next trip tip.
Stay close to home. You have to narrow down your choices: either you spend it in one of Cebu’s more rustic towns or hop to a nearby island, either in Negros or Leyte. If you decide Cebu would be it, there are newer destinations beyond the more obvious choices, but you’ll have to do more research. For starts, there’s a hot spring up north in Carmen and a camping resort down south in Badian town.
Explore the neighboring big islands. The island of Negros and Leyte are just a few hours away by land and sea, yet there are actually Cebuanos who haven’t set foot on these islands. It would cost a bit more to cross the straits that separate these islands, but it should be worth it. Southern Leyte, for example, has plenty of picturesque sights and a few resorts have started operating. Negros Occidental has its own well-kept secret: the Mambukal Mountain Resort. With its hot springs, waterfalls, river and clean villa accommodations, this paradise is a must for tourists. Even more amazing is that it’s run by Provincial Government.
Holy Week hurrah or horror? Holy Week falls this month and the holidays start on March 28, Holy Thursday. That makes for a pretty long weekend, which means a lot of vacation time and that dream travel to some remote Philippine destination sounds feasible away from the crowds. The only problem is everyone else has the same idea.
You can fly to Manila and, say, head for the mountains of Sagada hundreds of kilometers away, where surely no one would bother going to. Wrong.
The accommodations are fully booked by that time and you’d be lucky to find any room to stay in. You can still book ahead and get lucky, or if room-hunting is your idea of a vacation, then go ahead.
Do your homework. If you badly want to travel, then be ready to spend hours in front of the computer to track accommodations and fares with the best deals. The reason your friends are travelling a lot is that they did their homework pretty efficiently. They would wait in the wee hours for the airline fare promos to commence then scour the web for the best hotel deals, which brings us to the next tip:
Go online or mobile. Booking accommodations has never been easier with online sites such as Agoda.com, Expedia.com, Hotels.com and Venere.com. Remember, the earlier you book your hotel, the bigger discounts on offer. These sites, along with Tripadvisor.com have customer reviews and hotel ratings to help you decide where to book. Just one thing: you need a credit card. Another way to book hotels is through group coupons or through membership programs such as Enjoy Philppines that offer huge discounts and can be accessed online or through mobile apps (See main story).
Next time, plan way ahead. We’re not talking about this coming vacation but more like the summer of 2014. There’s no doubt you’d be able to pull off a good vacation in the next couple of months, but it also pays to get some real head start. That way, you get better options and more leeway for change of plans. Better yet, you have more time to save for your travel funds. (Freon L. Ollival)