The Philippines is hand down one of the best places to explore especially if you’re looking for anything that brings you closer to nature.
Sure, Australia has so much nature in it. However, it is also true that every country has its different brand and feel. And experiencing nature in the Philippines can be quite an interesting experience for any Australian no matter how exposed you have always been to the outdoors.
There are so many sights to see and over 80 provinces to explore, so coming up with an itinerary can be a bit challenging. But if there’s one thing that could be even trickier than that, it’s setting up your travel accommodations.
On one hand, you want to be able to enjoy some comfort after roaming around some random Philippine province the entire day. It can get tiring after all, and the last thing you want to happen is to ruin a perfect vacation because of some accommodation blunder.
Looking at the flipside, you wouldn’t want to spend a lot just to get these comforts either. The last thing you want to happen is to run out of money to use for the must-sees and must-tries just because you splurged on a room that you won’t even be able to use the entire day.
To make sure your choice of accommodation does not ruin the entire trip for you, here are a few tips that you can use.
Make a list of non-negotiables
Every traveler has a list of non-negotiables when it comes to accommodations.
Water heaters. Wi-Fi connection. 24-hour security. Air conditioning. The list could go on and on.
These are the things that you would have to check on first before even looking at the price. You wouldn’t want to give a bad review for something that has always made it clear that they do not offer the things you are looking for.
Once you have a complete list, compare it with the list of services that each of your options has online. You can also send them a message in case you want to be 100% sure. This does not only tell you if the things you want are available, this also gives you the chance to see if they would be able to address your concerns right away.
Check out the location
Always find out where the place is located. This would be a perfect activity for you to do while you’re coming up with your travel itinerary.
Some grab the cheapest accommodations they can find, only to find out that it’s in the middle of nowhere. This would not only lead to wasted time travelling from one point to another, it would also mean having to waste money on transportation costs. A more expensive place could eventually turn out to be cheaper if it’s walking distance to a lot of the places you plan to visit.
Also, do a lot of research on what kind of neighbourhood the place is in. You may think that a cheaper inn that provides everything you need is a real steal, but if it’s found smack in the middle of a dangerous area, then I don’t think the risk is worth it.
Never rely on stereotypes
One thing that causes people to make all the wrong decisions is the set of stereotypes that they have about certain places.
For example, a lot of people believe that beachfront accommodations are ALWAYS more expensive than other options in Boracay. However, there are actually a number of small places right on the beach that offer cheaper rooms than the others – sometimes cheaper than the places you find by the main road, far away from the sand.
These stereotypes could make you end up missing out on a lot of awesome things.
Always rely on in-depth research over the usual stereotypes that you hear from people. Respect their opinions, but find out for yourself which pieces of information are reliable or not.
Always call ahead to check on things that they can and can’t provide
Sure, you’ve already made your non-negotiable list. However, there are so many things that you probably haven’t thought of, things that you thought would come as a default part of the service.
Towels, for example, could be provided for in hotels and a few bed and breakfasts. It is not a usual part of the service if you opt for transient rooms or hostels, though.
Might as well check on beddings, linens and everything else. If you plan on going somewhere cold for example, like Baguio, Tagaytay, or Bukidnon, and you’re the type who gets really cold very easily, you may end up having to bring an extra blanket just to be sure.
Find out their policies on check-in and check-out times
Depending on your expected time of arrival and departure, the check-in and check-out time matters quite a lot. Some tourists end up having to carry their huge bags all over town just because they got in too early and were not allowed to check-in just yet. You wouldn’t want the same thing to happen to you.
Find out if their check-in and check-out times are flexible. If not, find out how they charge in case you plan on checking out later than the usual time they set, or checking in earlier. Some places charge half a day’s worth of accommodations if you check in early or check out late, but some hotels charge an entire day’s stay.
You may want to find out as well if they have a secure area where you can leave some of your bags in case you arrive earlier than the checkout time. Some places allow their guests to leave their stuff at the manager’s office, while some have a baggage counter that they can use.
Don’t base your decision on the room rate
Any seasoned traveller knows that the room rate is not always a reliable basis in making a final choice of accommodations. The belief that the higher the cost, the higher the quality does not always apply to the hospitality industry.
The same thing holds true in the Philippines.
A 2000-peso room somewhere could have a free breakfast, air conditioning, and wi-fi to go with it, but a room that costs the same amount somewhere else may not offer one or two of these add-ons. Add to that the previous tip about its proximity to the places you want to visit and you just might end up spending a whole lot more if you choose a 1000-peso room over a 2500-peso room.
Always make a rundown of all inclusions and other important factors of the trip. This would allow you to see beyond the room rate and look at your costs as a whole.
With these tips in mind, you can definitely make the most out of your budget while getting a lot of the things that you want and need. This paves the way for the kind of vacation that could turn out even better then you initially imagined.
Special thanks to Lori Bowen for the main image.