Around 2015, I started with Couchsurfing just accepting guests. And so I met travelers and I heard many interesting and weird and crazy travel stories. At that time, I just sigh and and say, “I wish I could travel too.” When they ask me why not, I tell them I don’t have money.
And I realized I am being pitiful.
So I reset my mindset. I told myself I will not just sigh and say those awful words. I believed that I can do it, I can travel, and I will. Money is not an issue.
But it is, honestly. I remembered when I was in Ho Chi Minh and a local asked my friend how was I able to travel if I’m a nurse? I learned from my friend that nurses in Vietnam have the same problem with Filipino nurses: low income.
I’m not saying I’m good at budgeting. The truth is, I had debts. I’m still paying my credit card for my expenses in Hong Kong way back two years ago, the first time I traveled outside of the Philippines. My 10-day Northern Philippines tour last year wouldn’t be possible if my mother didn’t lend me P5,000.
I’m constantly learning so I decided this time, I’ll travel within my budget, no debts, no credit cards, no borrowing.
How did I decide with the amount? That’s my 1/2 month salary after deducting tax, SSS and those stuff, and some things that need money’s attention.
I’ll discuss by dividing the topics like how I make an estimate budget for a trip. So what I do is plan on four areas: food, accommodation, transportation and miscellaneous. And I’ll talk particularly about surviving Boracay.
Basically, eat where the locals eat. If there are residential areas nearby, surely there’ll be carinderias. Here are what I ate, in what restaurant/carinderia/food stall:
Restaurants along the length of the White Beach are known to be expensive but there are certain ones which serve a decent meal at P80-P120. There’s 7/11 and a few other convenience stores.
There’s shawarma at around P70-P80. Just a few minutes walk into some alleys and you’ll find eateries.
Goto and tokwa’t baboy for P45 at a stall along the road just a few steps from D’mall. A glass of water is free.
Then Kolai Mangyan. I noticed Chinese or Korean tour guides bring their guests here. Food was great but I just had an unpleasant experience the first time I went there. I had to wait for 30 minutes or something for my food. Maybe because it’s their busy hour. Not really complaining because they serve soup and a pitcher of water to every customer while waiting for their food.
This heavy meal costs P150.
Jollibee just opened their 998th store. I can eat Jollibee in Iloilo so I skipped it. There’s also McDo but I saw that their value meals at P59 at Iloilo skyrockets to P110 in their Boracay branch. So I skipped it too.
Then Jasper’s… I love the cheeseburger here, it’s just P38!
I also ate at Andok’s at D’mall, set meals at P80+ with drinks, or a banana con yielo takeaway at P25.
Then also, Julie’s Bakeshop, Master Siomai (P48), Mang Inasal.
Boracay Ramen is located at an alley I pass by everyday going to the bar where we set up the booth. Even the foreigners agree it’s good and affordable Japanese food. Katsudon @ P80 and ramen is around P120-150.
Or Moring’s eatery at Bulabog or just any other carinderia I can find. Or fried chicken at P10 per piece or siomai @ 3 for P20.
If you’re not choosy, you can definitely survive. You can just reward yourself with an expensive meal on the last day like I did.
Since this is what usually eats up most of a travel budget, I planned ahead and asked for accommodation in exchange for my volunteer work. It’s perfect because I had the room all to myself and there’s aircon.
Probably you know about prices varying if it’s peak season. Or finding good deals ahead online. You can see deals as low as P270 per night.
Or, you don’t mind 5-10 minutes walk to the White Beach ’cause it’s obviously pricey there than accommodation in the Bulabog area.
For backpackers, especially solo travelers, hostels offer dorm beds. But if you’re a group, some hotel rooms are cheaper compared to the total amount you spend for bunk beds.
And you can also save money on food if your accommodation comes with free breakfast.
One thing I learned is to make sure you’re a regular passenger and you’re not taking a special trip. To Puka from D’mall was around P20-25, regular fare for short distances is P7-P10.
I remembered on my last day, when I rode the trike to the Cagban port from D’mall, I asked how much is the fare, just to be sure and he told me P50. I thought it was P20, I said, and he just nodded, no more extra stories.
When we went to Ilig-Iligan, we paid P200 for the trike. There were five of us. The driver said it’s because there’s an uphill way and it’s true.
Single motorcycle may charge P25-50. We rode the single motorcycle from Ilig-Iligan back to Station 2 because there are no trikes by 3-5 PM unless you walk to the main road.
And to save, I walk a lot. Like how I did the last time when I walked from Mad Monkey Hostel to Puka Beach just for fun.
These things are just optional so you can cut cost on these things.
You can bargain with water activities, or join other groups, or just take a land tour instead. The first friends I made there asked me to join their land tour for P500 which includes going to the Ati Village and trekking at Mt. Luho. Know your alternatives.
And bargain skills, not that I’m as good as my mother at it. Once, I asked for just 30 minutes of paddleboarding for P150.
Souvenirs, buy at talipapa, buy in bulk or something. White souvenir T-shirts can be as low as 2 for P150.
Or join Pubcrawl to get your money’s worth of partying, not only are you having fun and drinking but you also #turnstrangersintofriends. Promotion. Haha! But honestly, I realized it’s a super deal if you calculate entrance fees of clubs, the experience you’ll get, the freebies… will definitely be your #bestnightever!
Included in this category are your other expenses like for your load (or local sim if you’re out of the country), for partying, for entrance or environmental fees.
In the end, my total expense overall, including my bus fare, terminal fees and environmental fees, everything, as in:
So I will not show you my breakdown because it basically looks like this:
Load 78 + Food 65 + Ice candy 20 + Ice cream 16 + Food 90 + Food 100 = 369
Tinapay 40 + Food 117 + Halohalo 30 + Food 62 = 249
I’m a bit ashamed to admit that in 4 areas, I think Food pretty much occupies 85-90% of my budget.
Well, my average daily expenditure (charot!) is around P200-P300.
I treated myself with carbonara before heading home as my reward which I had been craving for days. Yey!
So like I said in my first post, if there’s a will, and if your will is strong enough, there’s certainly a way… or you pave the way for it.