• 5 Budget-Friendly Destinations From Day Trips to Beach Vacations

    Where do you go, toddler in tow, without losing your sanity — or breaking the bank?
    by Regina Layug Rosero .
5 Budget-Friendly Destinations From Day Trips to Beach Vacations
  • Parenting is a gratifying but exhausting 24/7 job! Once in a while, you probably think, oh, it would be lovely to kick back with a nice cup of coffee (or a cocktail). But where can you go, toddler in tow, without losing your sanity — or breaking the bank? Some parents offer their recommendations.

    UP Diliman Science Complex: “You don’t have to buy anything!”
    Recommended by mom Darlene for day trips

    We went here several times when Amy was just learning to walk. There was a lot of grass so that she could practice falling. There weren’t a lot of people on Saturday afternoons.

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    You don't need to spend anything — just gas money! When we first went there for the playdate, we brought pasta and finger snacks and spread out a blanket on the grass. We were careful to clean up afterward because toddlers are messy.

    Just make sure everyone puts on sunscreen and bug repellent. Then run around, pick leaves, look at insects! One time we met someone walking a huge dog and made friends. Another time other small kids were playing with a rubber ball, and she just went ahead and started playing with them.

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    Pinto Art Museum and Hinulugang Taktak, Antipolo, Rizal: “It’s never too early to get kids interested in art!”
    Recommended by Darlene

    We found an AirBnB nearby that had a beautiful sunset view. We went in September 2016 when my daughter was 8 months old.

    Entrance fees at Pinto are Php200 per adult. The baby can go in for free! We spent a little above Php3,000 for the overnight stay, and the host offered us a complimentary breakfast. The cafes and restaurants around the area also had reasonably-priced meals, around Php150 to Php300 a plate.

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    Just looking around and taking in the view can be so much fun. There was an artwork with teeny tiny chairs that my daughter kept pointing at and “asking” to return. The house had a garden and a large living area, so she had a lot of room to crawl and cruise around. 


    We also went to nearby Hinulugang Taktak. My baby was lulled asleep by the sound of the crashing water. (Click here how to get there.)

    Don’t bother with a stroller. Bring a cloth carrier. Pinto has a lot of steps leading to the different exhibit areas. Same goes for Hinulugang Taktak.

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    Lilom Resort and Gallery Cafe, Anilao, Batangas: “It’s a two- to three-hour drive from Parañaque, and the rates are cheap!”
    Recommended by Lala and son Diego 

    We spent about Php 6,000 per night. That included lunch, merienda, cocktails, dinner, and breakfast the next day. The best part: Kids 4 and below stay free! We went to Lilom in 2012.

    The beach is rocky. But they have two small wading pools, which are perfect for kids because it’s only waist deep for them. Diego spent the whole day there.

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    Surf town, La Union: “The sand, wide open space and potential playmates are the perfect elements for toddler fun.” 
    Recommended by Marla, Joel, and Selah

    The average price of a room in a family-friendly resort would be Php3,500. For a three-day, two-night getaway, Php10,000 should be more than enough for everyone. There are a lot of eating options, from the hip concepts by the young transplants from Manila to the local grill houses and carinderias. This estimate doesn't cover gas and toll fees.

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    The perfect time is to go late in the afternoon. It's not so hot, and you can catch a gorgeous sunset. It's not advisable to go into the water when the waves are pumping, but the flat season is coming up (summer time). Often there are other families there with their children. Hanging around the San Juan strip's food hubs, like Clean Beach and The Great Northwestern Viewing Deck, can be great fun for the kids too.

    You don't have to pay exorbitant resort prices to enjoy a beach. The community is very welcoming, and they go to great lengths to maintain the cleanliness and wholesome nature of the area. We just came back from our third trip to La Union with our toddler. She was a few months shy of her second birthday on our first visit. She's now 2 and a half.

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    Señora Falls and Señora Victoria Hotel, Nueva Vizcaya: “It’s as close to nature as you can get while still having access to creature comforts.”
    Recommended by Darlene

    We fell in love with Señora Falls: the clear, cold water, the trees drooping over the natural pools, the mossy rocks. The year before my husband and I got married, we cycled 15 kilometers from Bayombong to Señora Falls. 

    There are no lifeguards, so stay near your child and mind the slippery rocks. 
    There’s also a long, steep descent to the falls, so it’s good to have a spotter ahead of you if you’re carrying your child. You may spot water creatures and insects at the smaller pools. Our daughter loved letting the water flow over her feet and playing with the little round river stones.

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    A family room for four at the hotel costs Php2750. That’s during the peak season. Meals there cost around Php150 to Php200 per plate. It’s as close to nature as you can get while still having access to creature comforts like hot water showers and air conditioning.

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