How to Get Free Accommodation When You Travel

How to Get Free Accommodation When You Travel

I have to tell you something.. most of the places we stayed at when I was traveling with my mom were free..

And surprisingly, those places were very nice.. almost glamorous. And did I mention free? You can read more about how to stay in hotels for free here.

hotel in Thailand


 

Ok before I make some of you envious (and plot a way to rob our house again like what happened last 2013), let me tell you that there are ways for you to have free stays too. Here are some options:

1. Volunteering –  I was able to go to India and Thailand because of a volunteer agency. In exchange of the work that I did for non profit organizations, I was able to learn the language and culture of the country, was able to get a nice apartment, and I was able to travel as well.. on a budget of course.

 

2. Couchsurfing – although people see this as a way to get free accommodation, you are expected to barter something. Like cultural exchanges, and a little bit of household chores. There are generous souls who I met that did not ask for anything but as a responsible guest, I did my best to reciprocate the generosity I’m receiving. This is my room when I was in Nepal, not bad for a “couch”


 

3. Stay at family homes – because most Asians are family oriented, most also prefer to stay in houses of relatives when traveling. That’s why sometimes it’s the advantage of a large family clan. My family clan is scattered around the Philippines so when I get to travel around, I almost always have free places to stay. You don’t have a large family clan? No worries, families can be in a form of organizations or friends.. ask to be adopted by one ^_^

 

4. Join Contests – well, unfortunately I was not lucky enough to win in such contests.. so I made my own contests :)).. check out my posts about how grasya.com gave free accommodation in Nepal and Thailand, hopefully grasya.com can give away more contests in the future ^_^

 


 

5. Get sponsored – From our last trip, I was not able to volunteer or couchsurf, we also don’t have families in Thailand and Vietnam. But lucky enough, advertisers are able to fund my trip so we got to stay in fancy hotels. I also got promo codes from Airbnb so it reduced our accommodation budget significantly.

 

Despite that, since I’m all about transparency, I still will post stories about not so nice experiences don’t worry :P

There are also other creative ways to get free accommodations which include house sitting, woofing, work exchange, and I’m still experimenting on Trampolinn. But I haven’t done those yet, probably I’ll do it when I get to Europe as I intend to stay in that continent for a bit longer.. as you see, I do love long term travels… We’ll see what the future holds.

 

How about you? Do you have tips on how to get free accommodations when you travel? Do share your tips.

 

 

 

Tips and observations when traveling with elderly people

Tips and observations when traveling with elderly people


travel with senior citizen


Finally, my mother, a senior citizen, was able to travel out of the country last month. We did not do many activities since we don’t want her to be too tired as it’s normal for elders but we still managed to travel and visited different places in 2 countries.

We traveled to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and the golden triangle in Thailand. Then we moved and went around Hanoi, Hoa Lu Tam Coc, Bai Dinh Trang An and saw awesome mountain formations that looked like El Nido Palawan.. we skipped Halong Bay because everybody goes there.

The 3 weekend trip might be a lot for some elderly but most of what we did were food trips and we preferred hotels when looking for places to stay in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Hanoi.. so for restless young travelers, it’s not much of an adventure.


sukhumvit


Nevertheless, it still was an adventure for my mom since she rarely get out of the house nowadays.

These are tips and observations that I managed to capture while we were traveling. Hope those who are in the stage of planning to travel with parents or elder people, read and hopefully you’ll get some good information:

1. Senior citizen 20% discount is only applicable in the Philippines, unless someone amends the law to make the rest of the ASEAN nation adopt this best practice *cough*

2. Prepare them about what food to expect when they travel.. For Filipinos, tell them beforehand that there are no Jollibee in some places. We were at an expensive restaurant eating my favorite sushi when my mom blurted out – “let’s not go to this place anymore, how come food are not delicious and there are no Jollibee here.” She did not even care how I invested quite a large amount on my favorite food xD

3. Make sure you have a link to the live streaming of their favorite telenovelas in case they miss it. Good thing my mom, although a telenovela fan, did not miss her favorites when we were traveling.. But I have a friend whose mom became cranky when she found out we did not have a television in the place where we were staying in Tagaytay. So to the children of these kinds of parents.. please be prepared. ^_^

4. Do not make them walk a lot unless they want to. Although to be honest, we saw elder people jogging along the streets of Chiang Mai.. I wonder how were they able to maintain such impressive active lifestyles.

5. If you make them walk a lot, and they get cranky and get heatstroke, make sure you have insurance. Well.. reality check.

 

golden triangle

 

 


On the other hand, aside from not being impressed on that expensive restaurant, there are a few insights from my mom that I think is worth noting. Here are a few:

1. People in this region are slender.. Even pilots are very petite which reminds me of the book – The Little Prince. So lesson learned is don’t be fooled by the thin figure.. they might look malnourished but you may not know they are actually rich.. I’m not talking about me, I’m talking about slim pilots xD

2. Noodles.. big noodles, white noodles, dry noodles, noodle soup.. NooOodLes galore. That’s what we observed in Hanoi. We also noticed people like to eat raw vegetables in Thailand and Vietnam.. guess that contribute to the slender figure? For a change, this picture does not show noodles :D

Vietnamese restaurant

 

 

3. Country divisions are interesting, you just ride a bus, or a boat, you’re already in another country. Filipinos in particular find this interesting because we are surrounded by sea, so if you want to go to a neighbouring country, you have to travel far… In Thailand, we just went to Golden Triangle, and we are immediately in the center of 3 countries Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos.

4. We also noticed how tourists are very casually dressed.. some of them just brought random plastic bags that seems like going to the wet market to buy veggies or meat.. I think the secret is to dress down like the locals to not get attention of kidnappers..


vietnam


 

5. There were actually rude people including a policeman inside the train and rude restaurant waiters in Bangkok; and the rude hotel staff in Hanoi.. probably because we’re Asian too and do not have the white privilege.. We could have avoided that if we just go via tour trips where we’ll be treated nicely like the proper tourists in a bubble but we wanted to do what the locals do so we rarely did tours while traveling around. This way, we have captured genuine reactions of people.

To conclude, there were nice and not so nice aspects of traveling. It is rather annoying when friends and some family members always think traveling is fun. I’m talking about my reality.. and most likely it’s reality to every normal person too. But nevertheless, like the yin and yang, such is life.. and we don’t focus on the annoyance but the bliss that travel has to offer.. and I’m happy my mom just experienced it too…

 

How about you? Do you have any suggestions/additions to the tips and insights above too? Share them away and let us learn from each other.

Tourism and Community Development: Showcasing the richness of the poor

Tourism and Community Development: Showcasing the richness of the poor

For other people, there’s nothing special in places that are far from everything. No skyscrapers, no malls or fancy restaurants nearby.. if you’re lucky, no cellphone or internet signal too. Others may think that locals who live in very rural areas are poor. But for me, these people are lucky they are living in a hidden paradise. That’s what I observe during my travels around Asia.

There’s no shopping malls, but most people in the remote areas grow their food so they don’t need to buy.. And even in places that have no farm, cost of living is very low. I usually spend $10/day for myself, but in a far flung province in Nepal, $10 will let you feed yourself, 7 kids and the kitchen lady.. and I’m not even required to contribute that much.

Despite not living in condominiums or posh houses, members of communities are even generous enough to share what they have.. even to strangers. Like what I experience during Fiestas in the Philippines.

Kids from the tribes may not be exposed to ballet school or proper gymnastics, so it makes them very creative.


ballerina


These local communities may not have skyscrapers, sky trains, nor fast cars; but they have natural springs, mountains full of greens and the sky has birds that freely fly.


birds in Nepal
 

They may not have cute dogs or cats as pets, coz they have exotic animals already roaming in the house. Below is a picture of a Tuko, a big lizard, in my ancestor’s house in the far flung province of Antique, Philippines.


welcome


 

Whenever I travel, I love to appreciate the differences of religion, language and tradition of a place.. For me, they are the spices that make’s a country beautiful. This is a traditional Tiboli tribal dinner down south of the Philippines.



 

 

And you think because the country is poorer than yours, people will take all your wordly possessions once you visit? My friend even gave me Vietnamese coffee when I visited her in Vietnam. She even accompanied me to her favourite beauty salon.. Maybe I’m just lucky.

 

 


beauty salon in Vietnam


 

 

Yes there are struggles. But the strength of their soul inspires me. Below is a picture of me with a tribe girl while people are crossing the flood in the background in the Thailand border.


 

 

I remember my friend from Myanmar, whom I haven’t seen in 5 years, cried tears of joy when I get to visit her country. I also felt guilty that I have seen most of her country while she was stuck in her job.. I wish locals will have the chance to travel in their own country too..


grasya in motorcycle


 

That is why I support additional sources of income like homestays so travelers will have the chance to visit beautiful places and directly contribute to grassroot families too.. and probably learn a thing or two. This is taken while celebrating Christmas in India.




I’m not really a tourist that travel just for leisure. I travel to also connect with locals in the community. It is because of them that a place has become beautiful anyway.

What to do in Mui Ne, Vietnam

What to do in Mui Ne, Vietnam

It was my first time to set foot on red sand dunes.. and I said to myself, who needs to be in the Middle East to see vast sand when I can just go to Mui Ne? ;) And since there is nothing like red colored sand dunes in the Philippines.. I was mesmerized, awestruck, delighted *insert more synonyms here*

I really recommend people to go to Mui Ne in Vietnam, and yeah, im not paid to say this :P

And while prices are still affordable in that part of the world, please grab the opportunity to go.. coz you know, inflation and development makes all things go pricey… and while its still not like Boracay, please visit the place.

The place is still raw, culture is still in tact, people are not yet that greedy about money (or maybe i just got lucky).. I think I know where to go if I want to have another looong vacation. Here are more things to do in Mui Ne, Vietnam:

1. Visit the Red and White Sand Dunes. This was the highlight of my trip.. it was the main reason why I went to Mui Ne.. and when I saw… I was like, all I need is to see snow.. and then I can go to heaven now :P..
Costs? 8 dollar or around 300 pesos only for the whole trip. Awesome yeah?

The white sand dunes..

The red sand dunes..

 

plus this flower makes very good memories.

 

 

2. Sand boarding. I did tried a bit… though sliding in the dunes is fun, but i feel like its for kids.. am I getting old?? Be careful on choosing where to rent your sand board though, I heard of kids stealing your cameras and stuff while you’re enjoying the ride..

Costs is 30000 dong which is roughly 1.5 dollar or around 50 pesos.

 

3. Food Trip. Ostrich meat, snakes, crocodiles, lizards.. I didnt get to taste though.. Coz tasting the rat in Ho Chi Minh City makes me wanna take a break in eating other kinds of exotic foods.. but we’ll see what my apetite can eat in the future

 

4. Visit the fishing village and other beautiful beach spots. I wasn’t able to visit this but they say its also one of the highlights when you visit Mui Ne… Never went bathing in the beach too because there are already lots of beaches in the Philippines.. but for those who will go.. hope you enjoy the stay in Mui Ne, Vietnam ^_^

 

How to go to Mui Ne, Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh? I initially went to the Central Bus Station but the Phuong Trang buslines there are not going to Mui Ne directly..  if you are with a local guide, look  for the Futa Buslines ticketing office 0838.990.154..  and once you found it, take the Phuong Trang bus lines directly to Mui Ne.. Fare will cost you around 7 dollars one way. Travel time is around 4-5 hours.

 

Where to stay in Mui Ne, Vietnam? There are lots of hotels, and guesthouses once you go to Mui Ne, the guest house that I chose was fully booked when I arrive so I went around to find another one. I found Nhat Thi to be nice.. they have WIFI with unblocked facebook but the hot shower was not really working.. I cant really complain if the price is only 8 dollars a night.. Plus the tour guide is very honest and the dogs in the house are cute. Once you visit, please bring some good karma back. ^_^

Nhat Thi Guest House, 155 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Telephone numbers: 0623.847634 – 0902.847634

 

 

What I did in Vietnam

What I did in Vietnam

It’s nice to be back in Vietnam again.. the last time I was here in Ho Chi Minh City was last 2008, and that was my first solo travel.. time really fries.

Well I came in Vietnam alone but because I met with Vietnamese friends and was with them most of the time, I cant really consider that solo.

It took me 5 years to go back.. cant help but reminisce my time in this country and with my friends. And because it was a long time ago, some already have babies.. such is life.

It is great that there are now discounted and affordable flights from several major airlines otherwise, it will be very expensive for me. For those who wants to go to Vietnam on a budget, watch out for discounts and promos announced by major airlines. Alternatively, you can monitor cheap flights on different flight comparison websites, or lastly, just like my facebook page travel tipid tips because I regularly post discount flights there.

So far, here’s what I have done in Vietnam that you can do too:

1. Ate exotic foods such as rats, octopus, eel.. I wanted to eat a cobra but it was freaking expensive. This is fried rat.. doesn’t taste like anything else… so I guess it taste none other than a rat. I didnt like it though, but you should try it if you’re curious.

2. Went to a local spa and had hair spa, facial spa and nail pedicure for 40,000.00……….. dong :).. if prices are like that in the Philippines, ill go there every weekend

3. Visited the usual tourist spots such as the Cathedral, the post office, and the art museum.. I didnt went to some tourist spots already because I went there before last 2008

 

4. Reconnect with friends.. they have grown into fine young ladies.. some even are young mums now.. time fries *sniff*

5. Work online. I wanted to show readers that it is possible to travel while working.. can’t believe I’m location independent now, and I was just dreaming this life a few years ago.. so hopefully I can still balance this work travel lifestyle as long as I can

 

I’m schedule to go to Mui Ne today.. looking forward to a fun weekend. ^_^ For now, hope this creates a spark for you to travel to Vietnam ;)

Life without facebook

This grasya is in Vietnam at the moment… and apparently facebook is blocked in this part of the world.. well I can open it if I want using some hacking tools but not having facebook is actually a breather at the moment.. here are the reasons:

1. I can concentrate on blogging… see what I’m doing right now :D

2. I can concentrate on other online tasks too.. I’ve been complaining for lack of time recently and cant find the right time to do other projects and since now that facebook is blocked, I will now be able to concentrate on doing this things. No more excuses grasya!

3. Such a breather that I dont get to see friend’s food porn and random rants for a while HAHAHA! I’m sure my online friends will get a breather from me too

4. Hmm what else? Let’s see.. for now I’m not having withdrawal symptoms actually..

I can concentrate living the present moment with my friends here in Vietnam with whom I’m reconnecting. I was here last 2008 and its nice to be here again, and eat Vietnamese food. ^_^

If you need to reach me, feel free to email or comment away. For now, ciao~