6 Reasons Why I was Able to Afford a Singapore-Malaysia Trip

I went to Singapore and Malaysia last week. I made a little goal last year that I should travel to at least one foreign destination and at least one Philippine destination every year.  Thanks to promo fares, this little goal of mine is achievable.  Beyond the promo fare, the reality of having to spend Philippine-earned money in a foreign soil proves to be a challenge. I am budget traveler.  I cannot afford luxuries. Thus, I find ways to spend as little as possible.

Here are ways I employ to afford a trip abroad:

1. Advanced booking.  Promo fares are cheap because they are booked in advance. The downside: they are non-transferable, non-refundable, non-rebookable. The upside: there is no backing out. I got my June tickets as early as November last year.

The roundtrip ticket for 2 to Singapore from Manila  only costs Php 4,700++.

2.  Sleeping at airports. Our flight to Singapore arrived at 11:55PM.  To save on hotel costs, I told my aunt that we should sleep on the airport.  Many people sleep on airports. According to this website, Singapore’s Changi is the best airport for sleeping in 2011. Well, I got excited with this idea only to find out that the cool amenities are inside the transit area which can only be accessed after the immigration counter.  This means I need to have a ticket that flies out of Changi to be able to access the cool sleeping areas.  Still, I stuck to my sleeping-in-the-airport plan. We hit these chairs in the arrival area.

3.  Traveling light. Because I do not want to earn my 15 minutes of fame by berating an airport personnel for losing my luggage, I travel light. Light travelers also save a few hundreds of pesos form their ticket cost.  Pang-value meal na rin yung ma-save. Traveling light prevents me from shopping.

3. Free meals! I have friends in Singapore that I wanted to meet. They were generous enough to pay for our yummy meals. Below is our lunch at Din Tai Fung. My friend picked up the tab. Another friend treated us to breakfast and another one to dinner.  Thanks, Gail, Maea and Jill!

4. Efficient Public Transportation. These Asian cities have a very efficient public transportation system. We used the MRT and buses to get around.

5. Bringing food.  We brought instant noodles, biscuits, candies and coffee  in case we get hungry. My aunt  is not adventurous with food so looking for a familiar dish can be difficult.

6. Walking around. I like walking. It makes me feel like I am one with the locals. It is easier to find my way by walking. It is a form of exercise at the same time.  However, I traveled with a 67-year-old. I often forget that important fact. Movement was a little slower when traveling with a senior citizen. I got dagger stares whenever my navigational skills failed me. HA!

What can Php 500 buy?

My parents were born in the 40’s.  My mother told be that my grandmother would give her Php 0.05 as daily school allowance.  I was a child in the 80’s and my mother would give me Php 2.00 for my daily school allowance. I do not know the regular rate of school allowance today. When I was in school, I thought my allowance was just enough but I longed for a raise. I know classmates who were given Php 5.00 a day. If I had that allowance, I could already buy a burger and a soda for snacks.  My allowance could buy maja blanca and buko juice for P1.00 and I saved the P1.00 for other things that caught my fancy.  As I look back now, having just enough taught me the value of a peso.

As a reference, Php 500 is approximately $11.47 according to Google.

I have always wanted to buy new pillows for my bed. Over the years, the fluffy pillows have flattened. Good for me because I don’t like fluffy pillows on my head. Fluffy pillow=stiff neck the next day.  However, I do feel bad for my visitors when they use my pillow. It feels like not having a pillow at all. On my part, I like pillows around me when I sleep. I hug one in my arms and my feet straddle another.

The pillow that I wanted ranged from Php 250 to  Php 300 each. A friend suggested that I should buy cotton fibers instead and make my own pillows.  A kilo of cotton fiber can be made into two medium-sized fluffy pillows.  One kilo costs Php 230.

4 packs= 1kilo

I had an old white pillow case so we filled it with fiber and sewed the ends.  Tada! My fluffy pillows are now ready!

White pillows will soon turn brown from abuse (e.g. excessive drooling, wet hair, etc). Thus, I bought a pair of zippered pillow cases (Php 48 each) to protect my homemade pillows from the “elements”.  This protective covering is easy to remove when it needs to be washed. I will have clean (read: drool-free) pillows all the time! My pillows now look store-bought. 😀

I found old pillow cases from the closet to match my current color scheme.

Underneath the floral pillowcases are my new homemade pillows.

In anticipation of my next color scheme (blue) when I change the sheets, I also bought fabric to be made into pillowcases. My aunt had my grandmother’s sewing machine fixed. In the 1960’s, my grandparents’ home burned down. My grandmother, a talented seamstress, saved this machine from the fire. My mother took custody of this machine when my grandmother no longer sews.  My mother lovingly made our pillow cases, bed covers, curtains using this machine.  When she passed away, the machine was kept in one nook in our house unattended.

Whenever there was something to be sewn, my mother did all the sewing for my aunts.  I recently learned that all my aunts knew how to sew.  My mom just did not mind if she did all the sewing for them.  Lucky sisters.

I do not know how to sew.  I fear I might break the needle or something. I still have to practice. However, my polka dot fabric could not wait for my sewing skills to develop. My aunt ‘volunteered’ ( Truth: I begged) to make me one bolster case and two pillowcases to match the my blue sheets. I chose the blue dotted fabric which cost Php 31 per meter. I bought 3 meters. Thus, total cost was Php 93.

Some of my existing pillow cases have discolored from storage. No amount of scrubbing and soaking could  eliminate the stains.  I bought dyes to hide the discoloration.  I bought 6 packs of green and blue dyes (Php 24).

The process of dyeing

All in all, my Php500 was able to buy me:

With my Php57, I bought siopao and coke.

Indeed, limited budget cannot limit one’s creativity.

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