40+ Ways Filipinos Can Save Money While Traveling

Last Updated – Sep 13, 2023 @ 8:13 am

Now that the pandemic has finally run its course after putting our lives on hold for over two years, Filipinos are finally hopping back on a plane again.

Traveling is one of the ultimate ways to meet new friends, explore new cultures, and see new sights.

But it sure isn’t cheap.

Traveling (even locally!) can put such a huge damper on your savings, especially if you don’t plan well. That said, Grit PH is determined to help you save as much as possible on your next trip.

40+ Travel Saving Tips for your Next Trip

We’ve rounded up a bunch of useful and actionable travel tips ー some you might already know, and others that you might not ー so you get the most bang for your buck when traveling.

Related: How to Save More Money

Planning before your trip

1. Create a budget

Make sure you have a clear budget set up prior to your trip. This is especially important if you are traveling to a place you have never been to before.

Before you reach your destination, you need to decide how much your daily budget is, your food stipend, how much you’re willing to pay for accommodation, and the like.

The key is to be realistic. Come up with an amount that you can actually stick to, and not just one that sounds nicer on paper.

Related: Budgeting Tips

2. Travel on off-peak season

Flights, accommodations, and various other travel-related items are bound to be more expensive during peak season.

For instance, traveling to Cebu during the Sinulog Festival may be fun, but expect the prices of hotels and food to skyrocket.

Traveling during off-peak seasons is also a guaranteed way to enjoy savings.

3. Use a travel credit card

Travel credit cards are an amazing tool for frequent travelers who want to rack up rewards points and air miles. These credit cards also give other perks such as hotel discounts, shopping deals, and airport lounge access.

When looking for a travel credit card, it’s best to choose one with a low spend per mile requirement so you can easily accumulate air miles. You can also choose a card with free travel insurance, and zero foreign transaction fees. 

The most popular travel credit cards in the Philippines include:

  • Citi Premier Miles Card
  • Metrobank Travel Platinum Visa
  • HSBC Platinum Visa Rebate
  • PNB-PAL Mabuhay Miles World Mastercard

4. Travel where your home currency can take you far

This is quite obvious, but as much as you can, go where your money has a huge worth. For Filipinos, this can be a little tricky since our currency usually doesn’t go far when we travel abroad.

However, think about it this way: You can spend one-fourth of your budget if you visit Thailand or Cambodia instead of going to Japan. 

If you want to travel within the Philippines, opt for lesser-known areas. Baler, Surigao, Davao, Dumaguete, and Bacolod are popular choices for vacationers on a budget.

Related: 100+ Tipid Tips


Accommodation

5. Check out hostels and homestays

When you travel, be prepared to try out places that you thought you’d never even set foot into.

That’s why hostels and homestays are great options to consider when you travel. These places allow you to not only experience authentic and local lodging but also keep your budget in check without sacrificing quality.

You’d be surprised at how “boujee” hostels are in some parts of the world! For example, a hostel in Bali that costs Php600 per night already has air conditioning, a pool area, plus free breakfast.

6. Traveling long? Consider renting an apartment

If you think you’ll be staying in that destination for a little longer, consider renting an apartment instead. It is more cost-effective, plus you’ll have an entire home to yourself.

By renting an apartment, you can cook your meals, do laundry, and have a cozy time at home without having to compromise on comfort.

Pro tip: Use Airbnb!

7. Ask for a discount

While you need to be a little “kapal muks” for this tip, the savings will make it worth it. Sometimes, all you gotta do to save money on accommodation is simply ask.

For example, if you booked a bunk bed in a hostel for a week, ask them for a discount. If you’re staying in a hotel, hint about a room upgrade! Being nice to the staff will go a long way.

Related: Where to Find Discounts in the Philippines

8. Hold your friends to their word

You know when friends say “visit me in ___ and you can stay at my place!” Why not take them up on it?

We bet that staying at friends’ houses is cheaper than hotel stays. Of course, don’t be a pain in their ass (there’s no better way to put it!).

You have to be a good houseguest.

9. Ask for volunteer opportunities

Tons of hostels, homestays, and organizations have volunteer opportunities for travelers like you. This can be extremely beneficial if you prefer long-term travel instead of weekend trips. 

For instance, you can volunteer with a backpacker or hostel and get a bed to crash in for several days. In exchange, you just have to spend a few hours a day manning their front desk.

10.  Try housesitting

Housesitting is a way to travel without having to pay for accommodation.

You basically stay in someone’s house (cleaning it, taking care of the pets, etc.) in exchange for free lodging.

Related: Ipon Challenge: Best Saving Strategies


Food

11.  Look for accommodation with free breakfast

Hey, who doesn’t love a good breakfast? It may not be a lot, but a simple free breakfast will definitely save you cash.

When you get to enjoy free breakfast in your accommodation, you have to worry about one less meal.

12.  Explore the street food scene

Asian countries in particular often have a thriving street food scene. Try them out! You’ll get to know the local cuisine and have a yummy meal for a cheaper price.

13.  Cook your food

Going out to fancy restaurants is one of the biggest ways to eat up all of your money. Don’t be a tourist.

Eat like a local, go grocery shopping, and visit markets! Learn how to cook your own meals. If you’re staying in a hostel, ask people to do a potluck.

14.  Avoid touristy areas

Touristy areas are often packed with overpriced restaurants and tourist traps. Try to find places where local residents eat.

These “hole-in-the-wall” places are not only cheap but also offer incredible local food.

15.  Rein in your drinking

It may not seem like it, but a few rounds of drinks can really add up, especially if you plan on partying every day.

For instance, Indonesia is one of the most popular destinations for Filipinos today, but liquor there is extremely expensive.

Our Indonesia pro tip (for those who have checked luggage) is to bring a one-liter bottle of liquor so you can “pre-game” before heading to bars. 

16.  Bring a water bottle

You’ll be shocked at how much water costs can rack up when you’re traveling. When you have a water bottle with you, you can simply refill it in restaurants or at your accommodation.

17.  Pack some snacks, especially if you’re heading to the airport

Everyone knows airports can be expensive, especially if you’re on a shoestring budget.

You might as well prepare your snacks ahead of time and bring them with you so you can have something to munch on before or during your flight.

Airfare

18.  Check out Cebu Pacific super pass

Cebu Pacific Super Pass allows travelers to buy a one-way travel voucher to domestic destinations for only Php99.

This is a rare offer that allows you to get a ticket even without having a destination in mind. The voucher is redeemable 7-30 days before your departure date.

Keep in mind that you still have to pay for other charges (like fuel charges) when you redeem the ticket, but it’s still a steal since the final amount will still be significantly less than non-promo flights.

Considering this, watch out for the next run of Cebu Pacific Super Pass Vouchers. They run out easily so book as soon as it launches. 

19.  Clear your browser’s cache and cookies

If you’re planning to book your tickets on an online ticketing site, clear your browser’s cache and cookies first.

Because airlines can see that you looked for flights before, they will charge you more.

20.  Subscribe to airline newsletters

A great way to find really cheap flights is to subscribe to airline newsletters. Airline companies often have sales that are exclusive to their subscribers.

You may also download airline apps and enable notifications. From time to time, you’ll be alerted to promo codes, vouchers, and Piso Fares.

21.  Do multiple flight searches

Don’t book the first flight you see on your airline of choice. Instead, research a couple of options and try to get the best bang for your buck.

You can use Sky Scanner, Cheap Flights, or Google Flights to find out which airline is the cheapest. You can also find the best time to book on these platforms.

22.  Book flights early

Generally, early bookings have better deals. Typically, airline seat sales allow you to book up to one year in advance.

23.  Pack light

One of the biggest costs associated with air travel is checked-in luggage so it’s best you try to minimize the number of items you bring with you.

Pack light and simply do laundry at your destination. 

24.  Don’t fly direct

The longer the distance, the bigger the cost of the tickets. You may want to consider selecting a stopover on your next long-haul destination.

This way, you can explore an additional location “for free.”

25.  Be flexible on dates

If you love to travel, then this tip is probably second nature to you. While traveling on weekends is great, you can save a few thousand pesos when you travel on weekdays.

Aside from being flexible on the date, it’s also recommended to not be choosy about your time of travel. Generally, flights at night and early morning are cheaper.

Check out: Complete International Travel Checklist for Filipino Travelers


Transportation

26.  Travel by land

Roadtrip, anyone? Although gas prices are still quite high, you’ll still be able to save on transportation costs if you travel by land, especially if you’re traveling with friends or family.

More than that, you’ll also get to enjoy the scenery of each place you stop by.

27.  Rent a bike/motorbike

Renting a motorbike or bicycle is also an affordable and convenient way to get around.

Although it might be intimidating to drive in an unfamiliar country or place at first, you’ll eventually get the hang of it.

28.  Opt for public transportation

Public transportation is generally cheaper than taxis. If you plan on traveling to and from a tourist attraction, it might be better to utilize public transportation like buses and trains.

Tricycles are also great if you’re traveling to provinces in the Philippines.


Sightseeing

29.  Go to free attractions

Free museums, parks, beaches, and landmarks are a great opportunity to save on costs when traveling.

30.  DIY your tours

Paid tours can easily get expensive. If you have the time to research, why not plan a DIY tour?

This way, you can check off the spots you want to visit and save a few hundred bucks in the process.

If you meet locals, you may ask them for advice on what attractions to include on your tour. 

31.  Walk around

Walking is a great way to see a place up close. You’ll be able to experience the culture, architecture, and even meet locals by doing this.

Plus, it won’t cost you anything.


Shopping

32.  Track your expenses

If you want to keep it simple, you can write down all your expenses in a notebook. Of course, we recommend tracking your travel expenses with an app since it’s more convenient.

Some of our favorite money-tracking apps that you can use include:

  • Concur
  • Splitwise (if you’re traveling with friends)
  • Trail wallet
  • Expensify

33.  Don’t fall for tourist scams

Scams are prevalent in tourist-heavy places like airports, train stations, buses, and even in the streets. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

34.  Skip shopping for souvenirs

Instead of buying souvenirs or clothes, you can splurge on experiences.

Shopping for souvenirs, especially in tourist areas, can get expensive. Plus, you may have to deal with excess luggage.

35.  Get a card with no foreign transaction fees

Charging your purchases on a card that’s not made for international travel can rack up a lot of fees.

You should look for a card that offers minimal fees and charges for purchases and ATM withdrawals.

36.  Only bring the cash you need

Believe it or not, carrying cash can be a liability. It’s best to bring only the amount you need when you leave your accommodation.

When you have tons of cash around, you may also become a prime target for petty thieves.

Essential Travel Tips

37.  Don’t exchange money at the airport

Airports have outrageous exchange rates so no matter how tempting it may be to exchange money there, don’t do it.

You’ll just end up losing money in the process. 

38.  Travel with someone

Planning a vacation can be stressful enough. Make it easier on yourself by traveling with a partner.

Traveling with a partner or a group of friends is also a great way to save on costs since you can split all your bills.

39.  Haggle when you can

As they say, if you pay the asking price, you get the asking price.

Haggling is expected in some tourist destinations (especially in Southeast Asia) so don’t be afraid to haggle with local vendors.

40.  Unlock your phone for abroad use

Using your phone overseas shouldn’t be a hassle. Unlock your phone before you travel so you can use it easily when you’re abroad.

You may also save on internet fees when you purchase a local SIM.

41.  Ask locals

Wherever you go, local people will always know the ins and outs of what every city has to offer.

Talk to locals and ask them what are the best things to do in the area, where to eat, and where to stay.

Bonus tip: If an expensive purchase/decision can save your trip, do it.

Unfortunately, we’ve all been there – that “cute and affordable” hotel you booked online turned out to be ridden with cockroaches, or the food you purchased literally made you second-guess you had COVID because it tasted like nothing.

Now add in the confusion from being in a new place, plus the exhaustion you feel while traveling, and you’ve got a recipe for a bad vacation.

Before you let these bad moments ruin the trip you saved up for months, remember that it’s not too late to turn your trip around.

Don’t hesitate to make a last-minute decision to book another accommodation, or order another food.

At the end of the day, comfort and a better experience will be worth the extra money you spent.

About MJ de Castro

MJ de Castro is the lead personal finance columnist at Grit PH.

MJ started her career as a writer for her local government’s City Information Office. Later on, she became a news anchor on PTV Davao del Norte.

Wanting to break free from the shackles of her 9-to-5 career to live by the beach, she pursued remote work. Over the years, she has developed a wide specialization on health, financial literacy, entrepreneurship, branding, and travel.

Now, she juggles writing professionally, her business centering on women’s menstrual health, and surfing.

Education: Ateneo de Davao University (AB Mass Communication)
Focus: Personal Finance, Personal Development, Entrepreneurship, & Marketing

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