September 27, 2022

How Do We Travel Without Spending Too Much Money

My husband and I did not grow up with a silver spoon so traveling is considered a luxury. So when I was a kid, one of my dreams is to become a flight attendant but I did not pursue it because I’m petite. It is funny because one of my husband’s dreams is to become a pilot, but it did not happen too because it is so expensive. 

We took different courses but it doesn’t mean that we can no longer travel. We can still achieve our dreams by saving money. So when we started working, we already have a budget for travel and slowly we are crossing out our travel bucket list. We used to travel with friends but when we got married, our priority changed so traveling took a back seat. 

But of course, since traveling makes us happy, I find ways so we can still travel without going into debt. Setting a travel budget is a must and computing for this is not a problem because I can use a calculator to give me an idea of how much money and how long I need to save. If you live in USA, there is a website like that can do the work for you. 

Anyway, this post is not about “How to Save Money for Your Travel” but I will share “How Do We Travel Without Spending Too Much Money”. I know for a fact that we are not rich but I also believe in this quote “You don’t have to be rich to travel well”. It is so true because we were able to travel with less money. 

How Do We Travel Without Spending Too Much Money 

1. Travel Blog Opportunities 

I have a lifestyle blog and the majority of my posts are about travel so sometimes I received complimentary staycations in exchange for a blog review. But I don’t always say “yes” to these opportunities because I am particular when it comes to hotels or hostels. 

2. Contest Winner 

Since I love to travel, from time to time I join contests so we can have free travel. Even though I know that I’m not really lucky when it comes to giveaways or contests but there is no harm in trying. I won Zoobic Safari Package before so I got a free hotel and free entrance to Zoobic Safari. 

3. Performance Award 

There was a time when my husband received an award from his company, “Overnight stay in any hotel worth PHP5000” and this was just in time for his birthday month so we celebrated his birthday in the hotel. 

4. Company Outing with Family 

My husband has been working for more than a decade already but I can only count on my fingers, how many times they have a company outing with family. They always have team building but it is seldom that they have outings with family so I do appreciate those times. We had Family Day at Enchanted Kingdom and Staycation at Narra Villa of The Farm at San Benito

5. Family Outing 

If there is a company outing, of course, there is a family outing and we can travel without spending too much money if my mom is here. She usually treats us whenever she goes to the Philippines for vacation. 

6. Complimentary Entrance Tickets 

The best thing in life is free so we took advantage of freebies and we were able to revisit Enchanted Kingdom because of the Complimentary Entrance Tickets that we got from my in-laws. My brother-in-law used to work at Enchanted Kingdom. 

7. Complimentary Airport Lounge 

If you love traveling, you can apply for a credit card that offers travel-specific benefits. We used to have a credit card that offers a free airport lounge so we were able to save money on food and drinks while waiting for our flight.

8. Free Walking Tours 

There are websites that offer Free Walking Tours and this is a nice way to familiarize yourself when visiting different places. We joined Free Old Town Stockholm Tour when we visited Stockholm Sweden. This is not really free because you will give tips to your tour guide but you will still save money compared to travel tour packages. 

9. Airline Reward Program 

We are not frequent travelers but we always enroll in different airline rewards programs so we can earn points or miles. As much as possible we try to be loyal to certain airlines so it would be easy for us to accumulate points. 

Philippine Airlines has Mabuhay Miles Program and we already redeemed flight tickets using our miles when we went to Cagayan De Oro, Cebu, and Thailand. This is a big saving because we only paid for taxes and surcharges.

For Qatar Airways, I used my points to get a discount when I purchased our Manila-Trondheim-Manila ticket. And as a member, I also have 1-hour complimentary wifi use during our flight. 

10. Hotel Reward Program 

Just like airlines, hotels and resorts have reward programs too so we also register for this program if there is no payment involved. Each hotel has different rewards and benefits but most of them give member rates, member discounts, and points. 

Our favorite is Marriott Bonvoy, since my husband is a frequent traveler he joined this program so he can earn points. We used the points to book our birthday staycations at Sheraton hotel or resort. We also get discounts or points whenever we dine in any restaurant under Marriott Bonvoy. 

I also joined Radisson Hotel Rewards Program so I can get a discount whenever I book Radisson Airport Hotel in Oslo or Trondheim

11. Visit Travel Expos 

We love visiting travel expos because we can take advantage of cheap plane tickets, discounted travel packages, visa vouchers, and travel stuff on sale. There are a lot of freebies too when we visit different booths. 

12. Take Advantage of Vouchers or Discounts 

I had a bad experience before when I booked a room online (different site) because when we reached our destination, the staff couldn’t find my booking even though I already paid 10% for our reservation. And because of that, we normally book our accommodation on the hotel or resort’s website to ensure that we have a confirmed booking whenever we travel. 

But there are times that I take advantage of the vouchers, coupons, and discounts of other sites if there is a good review and I can really save money. So far, I’ve tried Deal Grocer and MetroDeal. For other travel activities like a sim card and entrance tickets, I booked at Klook

13. Combo Tickets 

There are countries, places, and tourist attractions that offer combo tickets, you can choose depending on the number of visits or stays that you want. 

For example, Disneyland has combo tickets, I availed 2-Days Park Ticket when we want to visit Hong Kong Disneyland for two days. I purchased the Park Hopper Plus Tickets when we visited Singapore so we can visit the four zoos with unlimited tram rides, Amazon River Quest, and River Safari Cruise.

When we had our Scandinavian Tour, I purchased Copenhagen Pass and Stockholm Pass so we can save money because the pass includes entrance tickets to different attractions plus public transportation or tour bus. 

These are several ways how we afford to travel without hurting our budget. Sometimes we are blessed in receiving some freebies and awards and sometimes we need an effort in researching for freebies, discounts, or sales. Care to share your saving tips?

September 20, 2022

Food Trip at Acuaverde Resort

Four years ago, we had a Day Trip at Acuaverde Resort and we enjoyed our experience so when my husband was looking for a resort last year, this is one of his choices. We liked Acuaverde Resort because of the full board meals so we were surprised when we inquired; the food is no longer included in their rate. Despite that, my husband still booked the resort because it’s been three years since our last beach getaway. 

We stayed in Acuaverde Resort for three days so I’m sharing the food that we ate during our stay. The resort has two dining options, one is Cocina Restaurant and the other one is Al Fresco Bar but during our stay, all meals were served at Al Fresco Bar. The printed menu has an Acuatico Beach Resort logo so I'm not sure if same menu lang yung 2 resorts for a la carte? We had buffet dinner and breakfast kasi sa Acuatico Beach Resort so wala akong menu na nakita before. Since this is a pet-friendly resort, there is also a special menu for your pets.  

Dinner Time 

For our first night, we ordered Crispy Pork Kare-Kare PHP475, Calamares Fritos PHP300, Rice and Ripe Mango Shake PHP170. We enjoyed our meal and we liked the peanut sauce of Kare-Kare and the calamares is tender so hindi makunat kainin. 

Crispy Pork Kare-Kare - Thrice cooked pork belly with special Acuatico peanut sauce, vegetables and bagoong guisado. 

Calamares Fritos with Roasted Garlic Mayo 

Buffet Breakfast 

For breakfast, meals are served buffet-style or a la carte, it depends on resort occupancy so on our first breakfast, it is a managed-buffet style. We had chicken sotanghon, omelet, pancake, bread, salad, fruits, potato, rice (fried and steamed) and different viands like giniling guisado, hotdog, bacon, adobo, fish fillet, and scrambled egg. 

Lunch Time 

There are meals that are not available during our stay so naging limited tuloy yung mga options namin. For lunch, we ordered Bangus Al Ajillo PHP450, Pinakbet Laiya PHP350, Rice and Noli’s Special Halo-Halo PHP200. Masarap yung halo-halo and good for sharing din kasi malaki naman. 

Bangus Al Ajillo - deep-fried bangus topped with garlic sauce. 

Pinakbet Laiya - a melange of vegetables, stewed in shrimp paste topped with white shrimp and tinapa floss. 

Noli’s Special Halo-Halo - creamy snow-shaved ice with sweetened banana, macapuno, leche flan topped with ube ice cream. 

Dinner Time 

For our dinner, medyo nahihirapan na kami mag-order kasi wala na kami mapili sa mga available so we just ordered Sizzing Sisig PHP275, Rice and Meat Overload Pizza PHP495. We liked all our previous meals but this meal, “okay lang” so hindi namin naubos. Take-out na lang namin pizza kasi sayang naman ang leftover. 

Breakfast Time 

Our second breakfast is no longer buffet, you can choose from Breakfast Bowls Filipino Favorites or American Breakfast. Each dish is served with soup of the day, fresh fruits, bread, coffee/tea and juice.

Filipino Favorites: Batangas Tapa, Lucban Longganisa, San Juan Tocino, and Laiya Fried Bangus
American Breakfast: Sausage & Toast, Bacon & Pancake, and Sausage & Waffle 

We ordered Batangas Tapa, Lucban Longganisa and Laiya Fried Bangus. The meal includes garlic rice, fried egg, grilled tomato, and pickled papaya and radish. So even though it is not a buffet, ang dami pa rin food and we had a hard time finishing our bowl breakfast, ang dami kasi rice. Ang sarap nung soup nila, bulalo yata. Nakadalawang soup (dahil ayaw ng anak ko) ako kaya nabusog agad bago dumating rice bowl. :)

September 16, 2022

Mermaid Cake Topper

Just this week, I watched the trailer of “Little Mermaid” and it reminded me of the mermaid cake topper that I’ve made for my goddaughter. We have the same birthday month so this is one of the cake toppers that I’ve made last month.

I was browsing my files and I found this Mermaid Chocolate Egg Holder design. It is an egg holder but I use it for a cake topper. 

It was funny because my goddaughter doesn’t have a mermaid birthday party theme nor a birthday party but I still added this to my birthday gift. #birthdaysouvenir 

September 08, 2022

40th Birthday Cake Toppers

They say that “Birthdays are the universe’s way of telling us to eat more cake” but in my case, it means “make more cake toppers”. Even though I know I will only have one cake because one whole cake is already enough for my family of three. 

Well, hitting my Big 4-0 is already an achievement because I’m blessed to reach this age so it is something to celebrate. I did not plan to make several cake toppers but as weeks go by, I kept on making new cake toppers until I reach seven. I’ve been trying different phrases, fonts, and materials. Sharing my 40th Birthday Cake Topper that I made and used last month. 

Fabulous Forty - Font is Hostania  
Vintage 1982 - Font is Somekind 
Forty - Font is Anberta 
Life Begins at Forty - Font is Falling Leaves 
Michelle at Forty - Font is Muthiara 
So This is Forty - Font is Rightly 
Hello Forty - Font is Festive 

September 05, 2022

Birthday Celebration at Marriott Cafe: A Different Kind of Buffet

I thought my Birthday Getaway at The Henry Resort Taramindu Laiya was already my birthday celebration because my birthday fell on weekday and the weather was so unpredictable so ang hirap magplan. But few days before my birthday, I was still busy searching and planning for my celebration, hindi pa ko naggive up kasi gusto ko talaga magfood trip sa birthday ko. Hehehe! 

On our way home from Purple Oven-Nuvali, I was still thinking about where to eat on my birthday, my husband suggested na ituloy na namin yung Marriott Cafe but I told him, coding ka di ba? But he said, my window hours naman so we can eat ng lunch. I felt happy because finally, the search is over. My husband immediately called Marriott Cafe to reserve and he filed for vacation leave. When we reached our house, I immediately downloaded the menu so I can prepare my stomach. 

The following day, hindi kami gaano nagpakabusog sa breakfast para sulit ang buffet namin. We waited for my son’s online classes to finish and off we went to Marriott Hotel. The buffet starts at 12NN and upon arrival, the staff ushered us to our table but we requested a different table, yung wall ang likod because my son has afternoon online classes. 

Marriott Cafe “A Different Kind of Buffet” 

I’ve tried different hotel buffets in the past but this was the first time that I downloaded the menu. I love the menu because it helped me in planning what to eat, unlike before na saka pa lang ako mag-iisip ng kakainin kapag inikot ko na yung buffet spread. 

There are prepared meals but what I like in Marriott Cafe is the Live Station or "Paluto" Cooked to your Likings Station. So you can order Singaporean Chili, grilled, steamed, sweet and sour and fried meat or seafood that you like. 

Other stations are Sashimi Station, Teppanyaki Station, Tempura Station, Dimsum Station, Noodle, Bar, Dessert Station, and more. Their buffet spread is not grand compared to other hotels but still, hindi ko din nakainan lahat ng stations. I focused on Live Station, Chef’s Grill Special, Teppanyaki, and Dessert Station. 

Favorite namin sa dessert station is the Gelato, one scoop is PHP155 but scoop all you want for buffet diners. I was not able to take a lot of photos because I was also busy eating. The photos below are from my husband's experience, compared to our experience, mas marami yung seafood nung kumain siya. 

And because of my husband Marriot Cafe’s experience, he said we will eat here on his birthday, but it didn’t happen because Sheraton Manila upgraded us to Sheraton Club when we had our staycation so may libre na kami na buffet. 

After few months of waiting, I finally crossed this out on my bucket list. Since the rate is not cheap, we literally took our time eating and drinking, so we were there for almost three hours. Marriott Cafe also gave me a Complimentary Birthday Cake, but just like our Yurakuen experience, busog talaga kami so take-out namin yung free cake. 

Marriott Cafe Buffet Rate 
Breakfast: Php 1,600.00 net (Daily) 
Lunch: Php 2,888.00 net (Daily) 
Dinner: Php 2,888.00 net (Sunday to Thursday) 
Dinner: Php 3,188.00 net (Friday) 

Open Daily 
Breakfast - 6:30AM - 10:30AM  
Lunch - 12:00PM TO 3:00PM  
Dinner - 6:00PM TO 9:00PM  
Nose to Tail Dinner (Fridays) - 6:00PM TO 9:00PM  
Sunday Brunch Crossover - 11:30AM TO 3:00PM 

Marriott Cafe 
Ground Floor Manila Marriott Hotel 
2 Resorts Drive, Pasay City 
Metro Manila, 1309 Philippines

September 02, 2022

Staycation at The Narra Villa of The Farm at San Benito

The Farm at San Benito was our last out-of-town trip before the Community Quarantine happened. It is one of our unforgettable staycations and I did not imagine that we were able to revisit this place. We were on a tight budget last year because of the hospital bills that my husband needs to pay so I already accepted the fact that we won’t have any travel in the near future. 

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good portion-packed down, firmly shaken, and overflowing will fall into your lap. The portion you give will determine the portion you received in return” Luke 6:38 

We gave away a big part of our savings but God is indeed so good. It is so true that when you give something, God will bless you in return. We may not have an extra budget for leisure but God provided for that. My husband has been working for so long and last year was the very first time that his company allowed them to bring their family on their company outing; provided that anything extra he/she will shoulder that. 

Each employee has his/her own budget so as much as possible, wala dapat extra expense para tipid kami. We stayed at Palmera Suites before but it is only good for two people. Time flies and my son is already a teenager so we need accommodation that is good for 3 adults. Good thing that their company got a Corporate Rate so my husband chose “The Narra Pool Villa” + PHP3,050 for an extra person.

Staycation at The Narra Villa of The Farm at San Benito 

Check-in time is 2PM but we left early because my son has morning online classes so male-late kami ng dating sa The Farm at San Benito kung hihintayin pa namin yung end of class niya. Mahirap maging late kasi for sure, maraming makakasabay sa “Swab Testing”. 

COVID-19 Testing Protocols 

Guest Health Questionaire and COVID-19 Questionaire 
COVID-19 Test Done at The Farm: FDA approved Antigen Nasal Swab Test upon entry PHP3050 per person (13 years old above) 
COVID-19 Test Done Outside The Farm: RT-PCR Nasopharyngeal Test done at any accredited DOH testing center within 48 hours from the time of collection will be honored.

Since mahal din naman ang RT-PCR so we chose the Antigen Nasal Swab Test at The Farm. The healing resort has a booth near the parking lot so swab test muna bago makapunta sa reception. I felt nervous because it was our first swab test so I felt relieved when all our tests are negative. 

We proceeded to Front Office for check-in and as expected, the room is not available so we just stayed in the lobby. The staff gave us welcome drinks. While waiting, I was checking their “Weekly Activity Sheet” and during our stay, we can join the following: 

Morning Walk to Helifarm 
Rocket Yoga for Beginners 
Mandala Flower Healing Sanctuary 
Restorative Hip Openers 
Afternoon Tea & Wellness Talk 
Guided Walk Tour 
Functional Fitness 
Sound Healing 
Beginner Astanga 
Functional Fitness for the Elderly 
Restorative Vinyasa 


When my son finished his online classes, off we went to PESCE for our lunch. You can check this post for our Food Trip at The Farm at San Benito

We stayed at Lagoon Lounge while waiting for our check-in but it was almost 2PM pero wala pa rin advise so we went to the lobby. I was a little bit disappointed because we arrived early but we were one of the guests na late nakapunta sa room. Naunahan pa kami ng ibang guests (even my husband’s colleagues), 2:40PM na kami nakarating sa villa namin. The resort has so many guests, so puno na talaga ang lobby, waiting for check-in. 

If I remember it right, we downloaded HANDIGO app, tapos nagscan kami before entering our room. This app will keep you updated on exclusive deals, in-house promotions, resort activities, and events during your stay. 

The Narra Villa

The Narra Villa is a 200 sqm villa which offers a bedroom, day bed, palatial bathroom with double sinks, a bathtub, two toilets, outdoor and covered terraces, private gardens, and an infinity swimming pool. Maximum occupancy is 4 persons. 

The villa is nice and big even the bathroom but what I don’t like is, the bathroom wall is glass. As in, wala man lang blinds or curtains. I am not a fan of this bathroom, wala kasi privacy. The bathroom has a wide range of natural amenities made of Coconut oil such as shampoo, conditioner, body oil, soap, and hand sanitizer. 

My husband chose this villa because of the heated pool but it was not heated. He called customer service and it will take hours pa daw bago uminit. My husband and his two colleagues booked the same villa but only one is lucky na heated ang pool nila so nakapagnight swimming talaga sila. 

As of this writing may note na sa website nila na “As a truly green, eco-friendly, and sustainable property, The Farm encourages guests to be part of our campaign to reduce consumption and waste in the global hospitality industry. One of the best ways to help reduce our impact is to keep high-energy-consuming amenities such as pool heaters off” 

Hmm, I hope adjusted din ang rate nila kung hindi na heated pool. My husband went back at The Farm at San Benito last July and hindi na talaga heated ang pool. Anyway, I don’t want to dwell on my disappointments because we were still blessed to have a quick break from being stuck at home for a very long time. 

Ionization Foot Treatment

And because of the late check-in, hindi pa kami nakakapahinga, we went out na rin agad because we have Complimentary Treatment which is part of the room package. All I knew is we had three options, I can’t recall the other options but we chose the “Ionization Foot Treatment” 

Bonfire + Music 

I’ve read their “Weekly Activity Sheet” so I was surprised when I saw the bonfire near the ALIVE! Restaurant and there is complimentary food and drink pa. May event pala. 

Sound Healing by LJ 

Among the activities, we only booked Sound Healing by LJ, we haven’t experienced this so we want to try it since it is free. If you want to book a Private Sound Healing Class, it is PHP6,000++ hour/session (max of 5 pax). After this session, gusto na agad namin matulog but we need to eat dinner.

Breakfast at ALIVE! 

We had a sound sleep so late na rin kami nakapagbreakfast. The restaurant is almost full, good thing we found an available table. The room package includes breakfast, this was a different experience compared to our first visit. 

Breakfast Menu  

Fruit Salad with Coconut Yoghurt  
Mixed Green Salad with Orange Balsamic Dressing  
Healthy Cereal with Banana and Prunes  
Vegan Omelet  
Live Cooking Station of Pancake  
The Farm’s Arrozcaldo with Vegetable  
Bread Station
Seasonal Fruit Juice  
Herbal Tea or Coffee 

After breakfast, we just enjoyed the pool even though it is cold. We left the room at 11:30AM pero almost 1 hour din bago naprocess yung check-out namin. As expected, ang haba din ng pila for check-out. 

Watch the video here (to follow)