The year is going by so quickly. Before you know it, the kids will be on their summer break, and it will soon be time for your annual family vacation. If you haven’t started putting aside money for your travel fund, don’t lose heart -- you’ve got at least three months. If you get things going right away and stick to these saving strategies, then you can still go on this much-awaited bonding activity without going broke. We’ve even made a list of local and international destinations you may want to explore with your family this year.
Where to? ZAMBALES Should you decide to go local, explore more of the country’s breathtaking beaches. Drive up to Zambales up north, and book your first night at the charming Casa San Miguel Bed and Breakfast, which stands on the ancestral farmland of the Bolipatas. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a music event at the CASA Backstage Café.
This lovely B&B also arranges island tours for its guests, but if you want to DIY, make sure Anawangin Cove and Nagsasa Cove are on top of your list. On your second night, you can opt to rough it out and camp at the site at these islands (make sure you bring your gear) or check into a resort in Pundaquit town proper, which is the jumping-off point to all the gorgeous beaches in San Antonio, Zambales.
How much you’ll need: about P25,000*
With three months to go, you need to save about P8,000 per month. That’s less than P300 a day! Make your coffee at home and have it to-go in a flask, instead of passing by the café near your office. You’ll have the funds you need in less than three months, especially if you forego the croissant too, and pack your sandwich!
Where to? ILOILO You’ve probably gone to Iloilo on a business trip but never thought of bringing the kids for a vacation. Time to change that because a trip to Iloilo can be a historical and cultural tour.
Take an early morning flight, so you have time to grab a bowl of flavorful La Paz batchoy at the La Paz Market and burn off the calories while walking along Calle Real to marvel at the architecture of restored heritage buildings. Then, get ready for a five-hour trip to Gigantes Islands (totally worth the wait), where you will surely be in awe of pristine white beaches and natural rock formations. There are also nearby islands and mystical caves to explore around Gigantes. Don’t forget to sample the local seafood fare!
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Before heading back to the city in the morning, book a stay at a resort (tent accommodations or air-conditioned cottages, take your pick). If you have some time before catching a late flight back to Manila, take a walk along the Iloilo River Esplanade to catch a beautiful view of the sunset.
How much you’ll need: about P32,000*
With three months to go, you need to save about P10,000 per month. That’s P5,000 per payday, so make sure you set aside the amount (or more, so you can come up with the target amount before the three-month mark) once your salary is credited to your account. We’re only talking about six paydays, so make those small sacrifices (avoid the temptation to buy new shoes, stay off your favorite online shopping sites, and leave your credit card at home).
Where to? CAMIGUIN, CAGAYAN DE ORO Cagayan de Oro (CDO) has gained fame for white water rafting and kayaking. In fact, it has been dubbed the River Rafting Capital of the Philippines. But if you’re not yet ready to take your kids on such extreme adventures, why not bring them to Camiguin instead? CDO is the jumping-off point for this historical island, and apart from the white beaches, there’s also much to learn from this island of volcanic origin.
To start exploring, you only need to make arrangements with one resort in advance and get yourself to Camiguin (via Balingoan port in CDO). Here are the must-see places in the island: Katibawasan Falls, Tongatoc Cove, Ardent Hotspring, Old Church ruins, Sunken Cemetery -- all accessible via a multicab you can rent for your use the whole day. Don’t forget to take a side trip to White Island before the high tide makes it disappear.
How much you’ll need: about P40,000*
With three months to go, you need to save about P13,000 per month. That’s only a slightly higher amount than what you need to save up for Iloilo, so try to follow the same tips for gathering funds.
Where to? TAIPEI, TAIWAN Outdoor activities, zoo trips, as well as cultural and historical tours are only some of the activities that await you and your family in Tapei. Opt for a day pass that gives you access to the Tapei Zoo and Maokong Gondola, and take advantage of the free entrance to Longshan Temple. Let the kids roam around the Taipei 101 Observatory (almost 400 meters above the ground, and just a 37-second elevator ride to get there!), not only for a view of the city but also to see a showcase of the design process and construction of the tallest green building in the world. Then, take a short hike at nearby Elephant Mountain (for free!). Use mealtime to sample the street food at Yong Kang, or, if you’re feeling fancy, head over to the Smoothie House or the Brick Works Lego-themed café.
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How much you’ll need: about P110,000**
With eight months to go before the semestral break, you need to save about P14,000 per month. You can forego big-ticket items during the year: lavish birthday celebrations (limit these to special dinners), or matching rubber shoes (read: expensive) for every member of the family. You can also postpone upgrading mobile phones to the latest model for the following year.
Where to? SEOUL, KOREA The best time to travel is between April and June, so if your kids’ school year doesn’t start until August or September, then you have enough time to squeeze in a trip. Seoul has several theme parks that your kids will surely want to visit, but unless you stay more than three days, you cannot go to all of them (it's also expensive). Take your pick from Lotte World, Everland Resort, or Coex Aquarium, among others. To know a bit about the country’s culture, go to the National Museum of Korea where admission is free. If there’s still time, take a walk around Seoul Forest and sit down for a picnic or just watch your little ones play in the fields.
How much you’ll need: about P125,000**
With eight months to go before semestral break, you need to save about P15,000 per month. You can dispose big items that have been lying around at home (old furniture, unused appliances), and get the kids to pitch into the travel fund. Another alternative is to make it a point to have a fixed startup amount for your travel fund every year (say, P50,000) so that you only have to add to it depending on your target amount.
** Costs are based on a 4-day-3-night stay for a family of four, with two kids under the age of 12. Computations are subject to change depending on the actual date of your trip.