I like vacations. Whenever I can take mini ones – I take lots (can I smile greedily here?).
It started when I was 21. I just won the top cash prize at the office raffle and what better way than to squander it all at a grand Hongkong vacation.
Okay, it was not grand. We stayed at a three star hotel and had breakfast everyday at the McDonald’s but I was with my bestfriend and we went around Hongkong and had so much fun – going to the parks, seeing the day life and the night life, tasted all the local delicacies, shopped for satin underwear, luggage and Giordano shirts, haggled (oh boy can I haggle) – that I wanted to do it again (and again and again).
From then on, I promised myself that I will take at least one vacation at an international destination every year. Hey, I was single, I was employed, I had no financial conscience (it was fun while it lasted).
This year, I am taking 5 mini-vacations (to my financial planners – uhm, ehrm, sorry?).
But my redemption, my not-so-secret secret – budget airlines.
• Manila to Cebu, roundtrip, was only USD$60 – for three (3) persons. Or USD$20 per person.
• Manila to Tagbilaran (Bohol), roundtrip, was only USD$100 – again for three (3) persons. Or USD$33.33 per person.
• Manila to Singapore, roundtrip, was only USD$230 – for two (2) persons. Or USD$115 per person.
But wait, you do get what you pay for. “Budget” does stand for something. The many mini-pleasures that you have come to expect from your friendly neighborhood airline – snacks, newspaper, blanket, magazines, drinks – they have been eliminated. No more movies (no more screen!) and even the sanitized ear plugs (served with thongs!) for your listening pleasure – gone.
Wait, there’s more. You cannot bring your own food (okay, you can bring it but you cannot eat it – I made this mistake once and the stewardess gave me “the look”), if you are hungry you have to buy from what they hawk (which range from noodle soups to $3 food stuff that try to pass for sandwiches) and the pièce de résistance, you sit cramped on a 1×1 semi-reclining seat all the way (are we there yet?).
But hey, you can save at least $200 per person. At least.
With the recession, cheap is now even cheaper. Travel truly has ceased to be a luxury for the rich. Here’s a link to a list of budget airlines per country compiled by Wikipedia (thanks, Wikipedia).
And here are some tips:
- At the start of the year, download a copy of the holidays so you know when to schedule your vacations. Premium is given to those who book way ahead of time.
- Sign up to receive email updates from airlines that you like so you know when they have those really great sales. Sometimes they even email out coupons and codes that you can use to get discounts.
- Shop around. Expedia and Travelocity, even Priceline, are great websites where you can start your research so you know what the baseline price is (and how much you will be saving – this gives me a kick every time).
- Some credit cards offer free airfare for a new approved credit card application. Just remember to cut the credit card when the requisite amount of purchase for the requisite number of months have been made.
- Read blogs. They are top sources of information for budget travel.
There is something about vacations that rejuvenates, something about hearing the lilt of a foreign tongue, or eating an authentic dish, or seeing a culture, a people so different from you – yet, somehow, the same – that convinces you that you indeed live in a wonderful world.
That’s because you do.
Article by Issa. Art by D. Copyright 2009.
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