Thursday, February 20, 2014

Our Group's Travel Rules 101-2. We agree on a budget, and respect it.

Or, How To Make Sure We're Still Talking To Each Other At the End of the Trip - 2

We agree on a budget, and respect it.

(Photo from

As soon as flights are booked by either Nancy or Tony, Millet researches on hotels, van rentals and sights. The Web is full of information about destinations, and most hotels and restaurants have Facebook pages. The most helpful websites are those that include contact details of the places. Most hotels can make referrals to van rentals.
8 people inside one tricycle, Camiguin, March 1985

When we have a fairly good idea about the range of choices for lodging, we draw up a rough itinerary and a budget. We decide on an intial working budget (say, P5K/person), and give the amount to either Nancy or Tony. This is the group's general fund for the trip, and from this amount will come the payments for lodging, all meals, tips, airport terminal fees,bottled water, van rentals,etc. -  sometimes even massages, as long as everyone wants one!  This is way more convenient than splitting the bill each time we eat, and having everyone dig through their pockets for the exact amount. 

Not included in the general fund are items that are of interest/use to some members only - rentals for sports equipment or specific rides (e.g., ziplines), liquor, "pasalubong" (take-home goodies), souvenirs and personal items.
Eating durian by the roadside, Kapatagan, Davao del Sur, 2006

Nancy/Tony periodically updates us on the state of the group's finances, so we know when to go slow on the lobster (if we don't want to end up washing dishes at the restaurant!) or when to top up and hunt for the nearest ATM. In all these trips, we've had to top up only two or three times, so that means we've done pretty good planning and fund management, right?
Costa Marina Beach Resort, Samal Island, 2006

Tips for a happy travel budget for your group:

1. Agree on a basic amount based on your rough itinerary/plan.

2. Keep in mind that travel is cheaper the more people there are in a group.  For example, a typical van rental goes for P3K/day. If you're a group of 8 like us, that comes up to only P375/person. 

3.  Agree among yourselves which items you want to scrimp on and which ones to splurge on. For our group, we require only the basic necessities for lodging (aircon rooms, hot/cold showers, clean bathrooms, clean bedrooms, and good and safe location. Food and tours - that's our priority - that's what we're there for, after all. 

4.  Van, walk, van, walk.  We used to get a kick out of finding our way around using public transport, but these days, unless the places have excellent public transport systems like Singapore and HK, our achy backs and knees prefer vans for going around. We all love walking around, but when the next ancient church or beach is three towns away, there's nothing like a big van to take everyone along their merry way. Splurge on the rental, and save your energy and muscle power for walking around and shopping.
Tagbilaran City, Bohol, 2012

"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list." - Susan Sontag

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