Make 2013 The Year You Travel! 5 Simple Tips To Get Your Adventure Started

I reckon it's a resolution on many people's lists: to travel more in the new year. It's easy enough to promise yourself this, but to actually do it - to just pack your bags, book a flight and leave - is a different story.

Now, I'm no travel expert, but here are 5 tips I've found helpful in my few years of backpacking/flashpacking/spending my employer's money on business trips across Asia. They're simple and might even be considered no-brainers, but I'm still putting them out there in case they might help you get your butt off your chair or your eyes off your smartphone while you read this, and out into the world.

So how about it - how do you fancy reading Filipina in Flip Flops on your smartphone/laptop/tablet in an empty beach, or on a sleeping bus en route to a strange new destination this year?

Fancy riding this double decker sleeping bus to Luang Prabang, Laos in 2013? Time to make it happen!

1. Know your national holidays. 

If you have a regular 9-5 job like a lot of people, getting time off work is one of the main complexities that make going on trips difficult. This is where the value of your country's holidays comes in - schedule your trips according to these holidays. Those that fall on Friday and Monday are particularly useful because they give you long weekends.

To maximize your trip, you can even file for a VL or two a few days before and/or after the national holiday of your choice so you can extend your vacation. This also ensures that you avoid the long lines and packed crowds in airports and bus stations on the actual date of the holidays.

Here's an infographic that lists down the Philippine holidays for 2013. Based on these dates, you can schedule a fairly long trip on August 21-26, 2013, that would give you six days off from work, but will only require you to file for two vacation leaves!

An additional tip: file your leaves and let your immediate superior know about your travel plans early. This gives your team more time to plan out how to manage the work you will be leaving behind temporarily while you go away on your trip. Usually, the sooner your employer / boss / teammates know, the better.

2. Monitor seat sales religiously.

Constant vigilance! Mad-Eye Moody might have roared this mantra to his Hogwarts students to always keep them on their toes against dementors and what-not, but the adage is also true for scoring cheap flights. Good thing us Muggles have social media to keep us updated on seat sale and promo fare announcements anytime, anywhere.

Follow Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, Tiger Airways, and Jetstar Airways on Twitter or subscribe to their e-newsletters for promo announcements. Cebu Pacific has also partnered with Citibank Philippines for the Cebu Pacific Citibank Credit Card, whose cardholders receive advanced alerts on Cebu Pacific seat sale promotions.

Looking forward to Cebu Pacific's puns this year.

3. Just book it.

So you've scheduled your vacation leaves strategically, and you're ready to pounce on those great airline deals. The only thing left to do is to actually book those flights. Usually, you will have to book flights way in advance to avail of discounts and promotional offers, and this can scare people - there's no way to know what you'll be doing six, seven months from now, how do you know nothing important will come up on the days of your flights? I guess that's the risk you'll have to take.

The thing is, you can't predict the future, but if you book now for a trip you'll be taking in six months, you're already one step closer to knowing for sure that in half a year's time you'll be marveling at ancient temples, leaping into a 764-feet bungee jump, or enjoying a quiet stroll through an old, riverside town

4. Get a travel buddy, but don't hesitate to travel alone either.

I'm very fortunate to have a lot of travel buddies, who are also willing to take wacky photos (and videos!) on our trips, like this one from our epic KL-SG-Bali adventure.

For someone trying to lose weight, a common piece of advice given (besides, you know, don't eat too much and go to the gym more often) is to get a workout partner or a gym buddy. Having someone to lose weight with keeps you motivated and eager to reach your goals, and the same thing applies to traveling - wanderlust is contagious, and if you hang around with people who are also eager to get away, chances are, it'll be easier to make that happen.

You can even use your desire to travel as a chance to meet new friends. Local companies like Offbeat Pursuits, Surfista Travels Philippines, and FLOW SurfYogaSamba offer custom, non-touristy trips for small groups of travelers that are a great way to meet fellow nomads and wanderers. So if you really can't find a travel buddy among your circle of friends, book a slot with one of these companies and make new friends on your trip!

5. Get your travel fund started.

Reduce the Starbucks runs. Ease up on the cocktails. Have your bank automatically set aside money from your account every month as savings. Earn money from your hobbies, or take on some freelance projects on the side. Keep a jar to put your loose change in and label it your "[chosen destination] Fund" so you don't lose sight of your goal. This year, even if I already have two trips planned, I've promised myself that I will finally get started on my Europe Fund by investing on some mutual funds and trying my hand at some freelance writing jobs. Here's a success story to keep you motivated, of how 22-year-old Lauren saved USD18k for her round-the-world adventure.

Need more advice? For further reading, check out CNNTravel's 12 Months, 12 Trips, 12 Ways To Make Your Friends Jealous for destination ideas and 8 Travel Resolutions for 2013.

See you at the airport!


minamic said...

what you said about not knowing what's going to happen 6 months from now rings true for me. i bought tickets for osaka with cebu pac's promo fare... but then i got pregnant. (note: promo fares are nonrefundable, nontransferable.) darcy came out the day we were supposed to be in japan. oh well.

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

Hey Sheila! Wow! Did not know that story, hehehe. That's the thing with promo fares - there's a certain amount of risk involved when you book them. I've bought a few flights that I wasn't able to use because of unexpected circumstances as well. Sayang, but that's just the way it is. :)

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Missy Penaverde said...

These are great tips indeed! Knowing the holidays ahead of time can help someone a lot on plotting a travel escape.

Missy of

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

Thanks Missy! Yes, my friends and I swear by this rule, especially when it's seat sale time. Thanks for reading! :)

Turista Trails said...

I sooo can relate with items #1, 3, and 4. The Philippine senate is now considering adding the Chinese New Year in the roster of special working holidays in the country. As for item #3, sometimes I'm in the mood to tag along a friend to a trip and sometimes I prefer to travel by my lonesome. It's a mood thing for me. Lastly, I agree with you to "just book" that trip or accommodation. I'm guilty of doing so 2 to 3 days before my travels. I know it's a toxic thing to do but it's part of my persona. I just love to move about in haste LOL! It's exciting. The one thing someone can't expect of me is item #2. I have no discipline in my body to run after promos. However, I always am surprised to be getting discounts by booking accommodations at just the right time promotions are ongoing. What's up with that?!

Daene | Filipina in Flip Flops said...

I've never bought tickets only 2-3 days before a flight, but now that I know you can get great deals doing that, I might just try it on the next Philippine holiday! Thanks for the tip and the visit! :)

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