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Why goals are essential to your life success

During the 2014 World Cup, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil









Early today I was chatting with my friend about goals. She said she finally quit her job and is trying to look for another one at a multinational company. Staying 10 years at a local company, she realized she had enough, and looked for something better. Same friend told me her goals: she wanted to go abroad. It took her approximately 3 years before she made the leap.. and I'm glad she did. 

So, why are goals essential to your success?

Let me back up a bit here... and tell you some goals that I wanted to achieve:  


  1. 1998: I wanted to go to London: Blame Boyzone, but yes, I wanted to see them live
    •  2008:  I finally got to London, for free on a business trip. (Yes, business class all the way). You can see a very, very old post here
    • Lesson learned: You will always find a way to make your goal into a reality, regardless of how much time it takes.
  2. 2001: I wanted to move abroad. The Philippines got too corrupt, annoying, and the president was an imbecile. It really got annoying come 2012, when I definitely decided to move, by hook or by crook. 
    • 2013: I moved to the USA. My original plan was to move to London but sadly, it didn't work out. Had another offer in Birmingham but since the USA came first, I decided to go with it. 
    • Lesson learned: Sometimes what you want may not always be what you get. And sometimes what you get may turn out to be even better than what you wanted in the first place.

Those are just some of the goals I made happen for myself. There's a few more that I can mention: travel more (started backpacking around the UK in 2011, and Asia from 2012-2013)

Camburgahay Falls, Siquijor, Philippines
Cambugahay Falls, Siquijor

How did I make it happen? Does this mean I'm successful?

First off, success is subjective. You can define your success in your own way.

Your goals are essential to your success because:  

  1. It gives you focus - they say when you write down a goal, the more you get to make it happen. And that's true. I kept on writing down what I wanted to do, I told people who would dare listen what I wanted. I wanted to be the person who made things happen, and not just someone who says something and does nothing. A goal keeps you focused on what you want to happen, and then you move on to step 2

  2.  You get creative - When you have a goal, especially a challenging one, you get more creative about how you would reach it. You start thinking outside the box and you're getting frustrated. Getting frustrated is amazing. It gives you something to obsess about: How do I do this? What do I do? What resources can I tap on? And that, my friends, is the start of step 3

  3.  You make things happen - These goals tend to multiply: you get more and more of it. When you have a new goal, write it down, and set a date to review it. In my case, I write down goals whenever, but short term goals (ie within one month), I check the last day of every month. These are written down at least the month before. It feels so good to tick off things from my list and making things happen. The bigger goals, like moving from one country to another (not so easy, especially if you live in the Philippines), can go in a longer term goal and be on a separate notebook. 

  4. It is so much fun to look back and realize hey, I made this dream (goal) happen!


Hopefully this has inspired you to make a goal. As of writing, here are a list of our goals to help inspire you:
  1. Be financially independent (FI) - I became convinced I want to retire early after reading "Your Money or Your Life" and "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" - I've always wanted my money to work for me instead of me working for money. In fact, I even convinced Peter to get in on the FI mindset! We're slowly making our way there, and we're taking the necessary steps to do it. 

  2.  Get married on a budget - Weddings are expensive all over the world. And ever since we got engaged, I've been trying to think of ways to make our wedding very affordable. Our starting budget is $3,000 but it looks like it can balloon to $5,000. Keep posted. We're posting our progress here on this blog.

  3.  Travel a lot (weekend, vacations), even with a full time job - 2015 has been good to us, travel wise. Here's hoping 2016 will be even better (note: planning trips to France & Slovakia in 2016, as well as mostly local travel).

  4.  Monetize this blog as another income stream - Still a work in progress, but hopefully we can do it. Still trying to learn the ropes on this.

  5. Get sponsored trips - We love to travel after all, and sponsored trips will be the icing on the cake!
Good luck on your endeavors! 




Review: Where Should I Go in Southeast Asia by Lois Yasay


When I was still living in the Philippines, and way back in the late 2000s, I stumbled upon the Sole Sisters site and that blog was what my friends read when we went to Sagada. It's one of the biggest travel blogs online, and we got hooked to reading her adventures. Note: this was the time when I was still starting out on travel, and was still saving a lot and figuring out some finances to afford my subsequent trips.

Let's fast forward a few years later when Lois released her book, "Where Should I Go in Southeast Asia?" - Full of photos taken from her trip and drawings, it aims to give you an idea of where to go, stay, and how much to spend in the countries she discusses in her book. It also has a ranking of the countries of which ones are the best from her experiences and lots of links to read blog posts that complement what was written in the book. Another plus? You have direct links to hostels she stayed in, so you can book your dream SE Asia trip using the book.

The book is short, and is mostly designed to be like an art/coffee table book - downside is it's only available in an ebook format. But look at the bright side: should be great as an inspiration every time you turn on your computer! Not exactly written as a how-to guide, please don't expect details as you would get from a Lonely Planet (or other travel guide) book.

I miss Southeast Asia: wish I went to Laos and Myanmar, but there's always a next time. This book created a big urge for me to revisit some countries I had on my SE Asia list when I go back home as a stopover.

You may buy the book at this link - book is for sale for $12.99


The book was provided as a review by Lois, but all the opinions & text posted are of my own. 


A proposal in Devin Castle - Bratislava, Slovakia

I have a few dozen deadlines and we have been lying low since we have gotten back from Europe.... but here's the big news I promised to tell, now that both our families are aware.

PETER AND I GOT ENGAGED!!!

Engagement in Devin Castle
Look at my face haha
Deadlines can wait, I can catch up with it, my personal life comes first right now. 

How it Started:

Peter and I work for the same bank here in the US, and we met at work when we were still in the same team. For some reason we clicked, started dating, and here we are. I wasn't particularly keen on an office romance but whatever. 

How the Engagement Happened:

I had always dreamed of becoming engaged in a castle or a palace... I don't know, it's the princess in me that wanted that. And so when we were watching one episode of How I Met Your Mother, when Ted was planning a castle wedding with his wife, I blurted out loud: wow, I wouldn't mind getting engaged or getting married in a castle. 

Ladies take note: if you say something like this, even if it is just in the moment; your guy is listening and would remember what you said.

And so we went to Europe. I had always loved Europe: always, always, always. Ever since I lived in the UK, it had always been a place I could call home, a place that always fascinated me. 

We had been to multiple castles on our road trip: from Neuschwanstein & Hoheschwangau in Germany, to Hohensalzburg Fortress in Salzburg, to Strecno Castle near Zilina, Slovakia, to Bratislava Castle in Bratislava, and finally, to Devin Castle in Bratislava, where he asked me to marry him.


Devin Castle, Bratislava, Slovakia
Devin Castle, Bratislava, Slovakia
 Let's rewind here for a second folks and go to a bit of history: Devin Castle is near the border of Austria and Slovakia. It is also where the Danube and Morava Rivers meet. His dad explained that Devin historically was the start of Bratislava/Slovakia, so poignant.

We were on a terrace and I was out taking photos of the rivers, and of the castle, as you can see on the photo below (this was taken in a different terrace, minutes before I got cold and needed to put my Disney jacket on - Yay Disney)

Ruby in Devin Castle, Bratislava, Slovakia
Ruby in Devin Castle, Bratislava, Slovakia
When Peter suddenly went on his knees behind my back (after he took that photo) and prepared a short speech (which I will not share), asked me to marry him.

I said yes

My ring, with a shot of the Danube and Morava Rivers in the background
My ring, with a shot of the Danube and Morava Rivers in the background



Ugh, my hand looks wrinkly in the photo above so  forgive me, I didn't pack hand cream on this trip and it was cold. 

And there you have it, the story of our engagement. 

We took this photo of us together after it happened so we'll always remember. Unfortunately, it was a bit too overexposed:


Ruby and Peter in Devin Castle, Slovakia
Ruby and Peter in Devin Castle
So there you go.. the next few weeks/months are going to be funny/crazy - We don't know the date of the wedding yet, all we know is we're doing one in Florida, another one in the Philippines, and a mini celebration in Slovakia. And oh, we're all going to be doing it our frugal way as usual (should be a challenge too).

We came from two different countries and ended up meeting in the US. I hope you still join us on our crazy adventures as we embark on this big event.

Atlanta Georgia Travel Expenses

Apologies for our absence - Peter and I have been busy trying to recover from our Philippines/New York trip and just recently, over the Easter holidays, we came back from Atlanta! Aside from that, I got really busy with other projects, such as planning my Financial Independence and side hustles! Oh, and I finally finished this blog after our Europe trip. Busy, busy!

Zoo Atlanta by the fickle fan
Zoo Atlanta!
Why Atlanta?  Well, we had been discussing it for a while and we always wanted to visit this city because of its hustling & bustling activity. Plus, why not? It's only a 5 hour drive from Jacksonville.

Peter might be back to tell you more about our adventures, but so far here's a breakdown of our expenses. Everything in the breakdown is per person, split between two people (we're a couple)
  • Gas: our main form of transportation is driving. For 3 days of sightseeing & from driving from Jax to Atlanta 
    • $50.50 each 
  • Sightseeing:
    • $79 each for the Atlanta CityPass (to be reimbursed by Arrival+) 
    • $11 each for the Atlanta Skyview (via Groupon)
    • Total: $89
  • Dining: 
    • $ 80 - We had lunch at Golden Corral when we were driving to Atlanta, then ate at food trucks or cheaper food joints for dinner. 
  • Others (Souvenirs, etc):
    • $31.25 - That's a lot of money for souvenirs. It's mostly from me though. I got crazy at the World of Coke (its expensive but cute), and also had to get the quintessential magnets that I bring home to our souvenir pile. 
  • Hotel: 
    • $72 - For two nights (split with the boyfriend), at a Best Western near the airport. It was one of the cheapest we could get (was too cheap to use points to redeem for a short stay such as this). 
  • Total spent: $323.75 ($244.75 once the Arrival+ points kick in)
Spending $144.40 per day is not that great of a redemption, but I would still do it as it was a great weekend getaway from an otherwise boring week of staying at home. Then again, we could probably have made it a bit cheaper (ie used a cash back card to reimburse the Best Western hotel), but I used a different card to meet a spending requirement so missed that chance!

Downtown Atlanta by the fickle fan
Downtown Atlanta



Pub Tour London: A great night activity in London

Tower Bridge, London, UK
Tower Bridge, London, UK


So I was on a business trip in London and my colleagues had told me good luck when I had mentioned I'm going out on a pub tour. Why, I asked, and to which they said that almost everyone who goes out on a pub tour of the city gets on their hands and knees at some point in the night or the morning after - but it is a lot of fun.

Off I went, searching on the internet for a company to book until I found Pub Tour London. They had two tours: one for central, and one for shoreditch and I booked the central tour. It was 12 quid (GBP) if booked online on a weeknight - not too bad for someone to guide me to some of the best bars around town. Meeting place was at the Piccadilly Institute from 8 -9PM, which was a great time for me to grab dinner and get there right after work. I went alone, so it was quite daunting for me to go to a pub but whatever, this tour helps me meet new people anyway. Found the people who are the tour organizers of Pub Tour London who then connected me to new people that are also within my group. Not so bad.

Pub Tour London Group Photo


After an hour in one pub, off we went to another, and another, and another. There was free shots, but I think what made me quite tipsy was the fact that I kept mixing drinks. Just so you know, if you are planning to visit London, some of these drinks can cost quite a bit of money. Try budgeting around 7 GBP for a pint of beer, more if you are planning to buy some of the mixed drinks (which can range form 9GBP up).  It wasn't all about the pubs, as the night went on, I found myself in some clubs too, which charge exorbitant entry fees. Turns out that this tour I booked from Pub Tour London is in charge of paying for these cover charges. Excellent. So, a bit tipsy and trying my best to dance and talk to some of my new friends, I finally ended the night in the wee hours of the morning, with a few more Facebook contacts and trying my best to remember how the night had unfolded. Let me just say my Friday was really unproductive, as I went on a Thursday night. (Note: Thursday nights at work are more like our drinking night to give way to the people who have families and want to leave early on a Friday to go home to their respective towns). I would definitely recommend Pub Tour London to anyone who may want to go and have fun in a new town and meet new friends along the way! They upload group photos on their gallery - so try to grab it from their website when you can.

The 2015 Travel Calendar [Luxury Travel on a Backpacker's Budget]




So, since I've gotten into the points and miles game recently, I figured I'd also post my plans on how to travel for cheap in 2015.

Why so early? Because to travel for almost free, you need to book secure your award tickets as soon as you can. And it also means jumping on various promos to get as many points as you need. Oh, and this isn't a backpacker trip... we're traveling using hotels, cars, and doing all that we want to do: paying $30 for dinner? that's fine, we can offset it somewhere. Paying $50 for a tour? Yes, also fine - we can reimburse it. No holds barred, no budget constraints (much) - just trying to do whatever we want in the hopes of reimbursing as many of it using points.

So, our travel plans for 2015 are as follows and bits and bobs of what we want to do, we don't have specific itineraries yet. I'll update this page as soon as I have booked more flights/hotels and our overall out of pocket cost before the end of 2015. Note - most of these tricks only apply to the US, but you should know that YOU CAN TRAVEL IN STYLE WITHOUT PAYING MUCH - all it needs is a bit of planning and knowing what's out there! :)



Tampa (January 17-19)
  • Busch Gardens - paid $45 in cash for entrance during the AMEX Daily Getaways (too bad we didn't have an AMEX card when we bought it, would have been much cheaper - paying $45 for 1 ticket is 50% cheaper than the normal price (around $100)
  • Lunch - $17 (buffet) out of pocket
  • Parking fee - $17 out of pocket
Orlando, FL (January 31 - February 1)
  • Disney - one last time (we're season passholders and it's going to end soon) 
  • Hilton Grand Vacations SeaWorld - got an Orbitz deal during Black Friday. $27 out of pocket. 
  • SeaWorld - paid $49 in cash for entrance during the AMEX Daily Getaways (too bad we didn't have an AMEX card when we bought it, retail price for Seaworld is around $100)
  • Gas (from JAX to Orlando) - out of pocket (approx $30) 

Cancun, Mexico (February 21-25,2015)
  • Hotel: Boyfriend got a targeted offer to stay at the Westin Lagunamar Resort.  Paid $319 in cash for 5 days, 4 nights and we get 5,000 SPG points after our stay! Retail price per night for the room? $400+
  • Flights: Miami to Cancun using British Airways Avios (9,000 per person x 2 = 18,000 BA Avios RT) (Transfer from AMEX Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards cards)
  • Ruby: 9,000 British Airways points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards + $78 in taxes (paid in cash)
  • P: 9,000 British Airways points transferred from AMEX Membership Rewards + $66 in taxes (reimbursed using Barclaycard World Arrival+)  - retail price varies
  • Sightseeing Chichen Itza, Tulum, and Isla Grande fees - Barclaycard Arrival (Will update once list is done)
    • Others: 
      • Airport Shuttle - $55 for two people (cash)
      • Chichen Itza Tour - $56 each, to be reimbursed using Arrival+ miles. 
  • For a full breakdown of this trip, click here (Final cost for Mexico/Miami: less than $450)
Related Articles to Cancun: 

Miami, Florida (February 25-26, 2015)
  • Hotel:  Hyatt House Miami Airport - only 8,000 points (transferred via Chase Ultimate Rewards). $0 out of pocket. Retail price for the room? $250+. Only need to stay in Miami for 1 day to do some visa errands for me. I have a Philippine passport and would need a Schengen visa to get to Europe). The boyfriend will have to work from the hotel while I do my visa errand - and yes, we still have our full time 9-5 jobs, in case you were wondering. 
  • For a full breakdown of this trip, click here (Final cost for Mexico/Miami: less than $450)
Manila, Philippines (March 17-25, 2015)
  • Flights Total: 
    • JFK to Manila for only $247.50 (cash out): Got an Etihad mistake fare last Christmas.
      •  Used $32.50 worth of Arrival+ points to get the original price of $285 down to $247.50
    • JAX- JFK - Jetblue $79. Didn't use Arrival+ but opted to use the JetBlue credit card so we can earn twice as many points on that flight.
    • JFK-JAX - US Airways (with a stopover in Philadelphia) - $120. It is cheaper and since we have the US Airways card, we get free checked luggage each too. Booked using Arrval+ so expecting to reimburse it as well. 
    • Manila to Tagbilaran Flight - TigerAir/Cebu Pacific - $70 for two people (to reimburse using Arrival+)
    • Tagbilaran to Manila Flight - AirAsia - $50 for two people (to reimburse using Arrival+) 
      • $25 reimbursed using Arrival+. Total Cash out for this leg: $25
  • Tours & Accommodation Total: $280
    • Paid out in cash - $280 for two people. Thing is, the company doesn't allow us to pay in credit cards so there you go, everything in cash
  • Travel breakdown to follow soon. 
    •  
Atlanta, Georgia (April 3-5, 2015)

  • Total Spend: $323.75 (Atlanta Travel Expense Breakdown)
  • Hotel: Best Western Plus ($150+ including taxes & fees) for 2 nights, paid out of pocket using Orbitz. (Because they had a sale, normal price is around $100 per night)
  • Attractions
    • Atlanta Citypass - CNN Center, the Georgia Aquarium, and World of Coca-Cola. Also saw Zoo Atlanta. All for $79 per person. To be reimbursed by Arrival+ 
    • Atlanta Skyline - bought using a groupon $18.40 in cash for two people + free chocolate.
  • Transportation & food are covered separately in the expense breakdown.
  • What to see and do :
Europe (April 17th - 28th, 2015) Germany, Austria & Slovakia

Why these countries? Because my boyfriend is originally from Slovakia and he wants me to see his country :) Vienna is the closest biggest airport to fly out of Bratislava, and Germany because I'll need a Schengen visa to get in the region. Germany is the closest embassy to where I live without flying to DC so we'll have to stay longest in Germany for the trip. Not too bad though, considering that the south of Germany is full of castles, which I love! 
  • Total Spend: 
  • Flights Total :
    •   40,000 Mile SAAver Offpeak American Airline Miles. (80,000 miles for 2 people) JAX-MUC (April 17th), VIE-JAX (April 28th). (The airline taxes & fees $288 for 2 people are going were covered by our Arrival+ card) - total cost out of pocket? $0. Total miles? 80k AA
  • Hotels Total: 
    • Munich Total: $
      • Out of pocket cost per night, $80. We are staying at a small hotel near the old city of Munich where everything is walking distance - hurrah! How's that for location? Saved $100 by booking using the VISACHECKOUT deal on Orbitz.com
    • Vienna Total: $65.11
      • Best Western Wien, Vienna (to reimburse using Arrival+)
    • Salzburg Total: $60.11 
      • Hotel Goldenes Theatre (to reimburse using Arrival+)
  • Sightseeing: to be determined. 
  • Travel Itinerary to follow
Las Vegas, Nevada (May 20-26, 2015)
  • Flights Total:  $230
    • US Airways Companion Pass. Paid approx $460 out of pocket for two people round trip from JAX to LAS. (Normally that $400 ticket is just for one person!)
  • Hotels Total: $
    • Las Vegas: $150 cash for 3 nights (including the resort fees, averaging $50 a night including a weekend stay) for Stratosphere May 20-23 during Orbitz Cyber Monday - out of pocket. 
    • Las Vegas - Excalibur: $30 for the night (Used a visa checkout deal, so we only paid for the resort fees and $10 for the room)
    • Boulder Dam Hotel - $103.95/night - paid in cash
    • Grand Canyon Hotel - $83.45/night - paid in cash: wonderful hotel!
  • Transportation Total
  • Sightseeing/Entertainment Total: 
    • Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Death Valley, a few shows in Las Vegas, and do other things. To be determined - we got a lot of great deals using the VISACHECKOUT offer from Vegas.com. Will post in a different article. 
  • Itinerary to Follow
Turks & Caicos (Sept 19-22, 2015)
  • Flights Total: $21
    • 18,000 British Airways Points from JAX to MIA (for P & R, roundtrip). Taxes: $192
    • Taxes reimbursed using BarclayCard Arrival+ ($150, worth 15,000 Arrival+ pts)
    • Final Flight cost: $42 for two people
  • Hotels:  $290.50
    • Inn at Grace Bay. $581 for three nights, includes kitchenette. To be reimbursed by Arrival+
New York (October 23-27, 2015)
  • Flights Total: $12
    • 20,000 JetBlue points + nearly $12 in taxes and fees. In theory we could have gotten the $12 for free using a different cash back card, but getting more points is more worth it. 
  • Hotel Total: $0
    • We'll be staying at our friend's apartment in Manhattan
  • Transportation Total: $ 
  • Sightseeing Total: $




Cancun, Mexico Travelogue: It all started at 2:43 A.M. (Missing a flight, driving from Jacksonville to Miami & more!)


The flight to Cancun, Mexico was to leave at 11:15 in the morning.  We were going to wake up early, and drive to the airport early, and be at the airport early.  The key word running through here is "early."  That was the plan.  Problem is, we live in Jacksonville, which is in North Florida.  The flight was departing from Miami, which is in South Florida.  300 miles (roughly 5 hours of driving) separates these two cities.

So as you can see, to be there early was a priority, and before we went to sleep the night before, we were determined to not be on time, but early.  We set a departure time of 4 a.m., but then we got bold and said, "Nay, we shall leave even earlier than that.  Set thy departure clock at 3:45 a.m."  We were feeling confident.

We set our wake-up clock at 2:45 a.m.  We actually woke up 2 minutes before that.  We were feeling good.  "See, we don't even need the stupid alarm, we can wake ourselves up whenever we want.  I can smell Cancun already!"  This is where things began to go awry.  We leisurely showered, had breakfast, had some tea, relaxed, and by the time that was over, it was 4:15.  Well...crap.

The driving map from Jax to Miami


We stumbled out of the apartment, set out on the road and the car clock showed 4:25.  We were still confident of getting there early.  "I'll just go a little faster", I said, like I can just shave off an hour as if I was Sebastian Vettel.

The ride was going smoothly, the road was empty, but we needed a bathroom break. 10 minutes.  We resumed the ride.  Another bathroom break.  10 minutes.  We still said we were going to make it in time, but instead of our voices being confident, there was a noticeable anxiety in saying we were going to make it, as if we knew that we were not going to make it, but saying it out loud would just ruin the whole ordeal.

I went a little faster, and was gaining some minutes back when I saw cop lights behind me.  Since I was going 78 in a 70 mph zone, I didn't think much of it and went to the middle lane so the cop could go past me and catch the bad guy somewhere up ahead in traffic.  The cop moved to my lane.  I slowed down.  The cop slowed down.  "What does this lady want?" I asked as I moved over to the right lane so the cop could catch the bad guy up ahead.  I looked into my rearview mirror and saw the cop pointing at me to pull over.  Well...crap.

We finally made it to Cancun

20 minutes later and $140 poorer (I failed to move over for an emergency vehicle, even though I slowed down), we were now in half-panic mode.  We had one more very brief bathroom break and parked the car at a Marriott hotel (we had a deal arranged with them).  Their hotel shuttle took us to the Miami Airport.  It was 10 a.m.  Our boarding was 10:40.  We sprinted to the curbside check-in.  The guy told us we had to go inside.  We dashed inside, all our bags swinging wildly, dodging bewildered travelers left and right.  We went to the check-in kiosk and it told us we had to go see an agent.  We ran to the agent.  The agent gave us a weird look, looked at our tickets and dryly said, "You missed your flight." Well...crap.

We eventually got lucky and rebooked our flight for no charge, but the lesson here is: Never be too confident.  Never take things for granted.  

And next time, drive to Miami the night before and stay at a hotel.  As much fun as it is to blaze across Florida to catch your flight, it's better to be safe than sorry.

Giveaway: Books & Magazines Galore

Hiya!

We have too much stuff accumulated in our apartment so we're going to do a giveaway.


You can win a bunch of US magazine publications - anything from Glamour, Vogue, Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast, and even the Economist (will update this for photos)

You can also win books (will list the titles here), and travel books for Corsica and a few others.

The List:
  1. The Four Hour Work Week - Tim Ferriss (first edition, not the expanded one)
  2. Travel & Leisure Magazine November 2014
  3. DK Travel Guides Sydney
  4. DK Travel Guides Corsica
  5. Glamour March 2015 (Cover: the stars of 50 Shades of Gray)
  6. Lonely Planet Pocket Guide: New York
  7. DK Travel Guide Top 10 Rio de Janeiro

There will be multiple winners!

The rules/how to win: 

  • The winner must be able to physically pick up the books/magazines in either Manila (Bonifacio Global City/Alabang/Mall of Asia) from March 19th until March 24th ONLY, Bohol (Alona Beach from March 21-22) or be willing to pay for shipping from Manila to wherever you are in the Philippines. I don't live full time in Manila and only going home for a quick vacation. 
  • Leave a comment and I will randomly pick a few people. For an additional entry, answer this in the comments: "Where are you going to travel next? Or what book are you planning to read next?" 
  • For an additional entry, follow me @theficklefan on Twitter and leave a comment saying you followed my account with your username.
  • For an additional entry, like my facebook page @theficklefan and leave a comment saying you followed my account with your name.
Giveaway ends March 16th, 2015, 8:00PM EST (New York Time)

Thanks!


Cancun: In Photos

Photos from our Cancun trip!

Floating on a cenote

Floating on a cenote part 2 - 40 metres deep!

On the bus, going back to the hotel

Caribbean Sea in front of Westin Lagunamar

Me and the Caribbean Sea

Me, Peter & the Caribbean Sea

Me, Peter & the Caribbean Sea part 2

A $450 Luxury Trip to Cancun, Mexico 2015

Our Oceanfront Room at Westin Lagunamar

We just got back from our Cancun, Mexico trip and it was epic!!! We stayed at the Westin Lagunamar Resort and flew American Airlines from Miami. Our total expenses for this trip rounded up to $450 for 5 days, 4 nights for everything!

Here's a summary of how we did it, additional reviews in separate posts later. And let me just say: Once you do luxury for this cheap, you never go back to your old backpacking ways

Total Expenses & Points/Miles Used:  *all totals are for 1 person, assuming you are sharing with a second person - this will be more expensive if you are traveling alone*

Flights: 
  • Miami-Cancun Roundtrip = 9,000 British Airways Points per person. 
  • $40 taxes and fees per person (managed to reimburse $69 from Arrival+, but not for the other ticket
Flight Total: $40

Accommodation: 
  • $319 for 5 days 4 nights - it was from a timeshare promo and at this price we'd jump to get it, even if it involves a presentation (we got 12,000 SPG points too - loyal points & milers would jump at hoops to get that much seeing as how valuable they are) 
The Westin Lagunamar is a Four Star resort!!! 

Accommodation Total: $160 

A day at Chichen Itza - El Castillo


Excursions: 
  • $51 each for Chichen Itza tour (booked with Entertainment Plus, the parent company of USA Transfers). Tour covers entrance fees to the cenote, Chichen Itza, transporation to and from the resort, and a buffet lunch - currently waiting to reimburse using Arrival+ 
  • $5 each as a tip to our guide & driver 
Excursion Total: $56

Transportation: 
  • $55 for roundtrip airport transfers from USA Transfers (They are very good)
  • $10 tip for both our drivers to the hotel & back 
  • $2 tip for the bellboys who helped us load our bags in 
  • $2 tip to the greeter of USA Transfers
  • $50 for gas from Jacksonville to Miami & vice versa 
Transportation Total: $59.50

Souvenirs: *sue me, I love my souvenirs*
  • $5 - hat from Chichen Itza (did halfsie with Peter)
  • $4.50 - skull with a Mexican hat (did halfsies with Peter for our house) 
  • $6 - fabric/shawl (my own $$$)
  • $7 - 3 magnets from Chichen Itza (souvenir for Peter's mum, my mum, and our house) 
  • $2.50 - Chichen Itza mini statues (souvenirs for my mum & Peter's brother) 
  • $22 - Milka Chocolates (Peter is European and I love the European chocolate. They're yummy and the price in Mexico's Duty Free is much cheaper than in America!)
Souvenir Total: $26.50

Swimming in a cenote

Food: *Since our room in the Lagunamar had a kitchen, we opted to cook most of the time to save money. *
  • $1.50 - sundae from McDonalds
  • $11 - Bottled Water & other drinks
  • $17 - Lunch from Miami Airport (02/21)
  • $8 - Dinner (02/21: Bread & Chorizo) 
  • $30 - Lunch from Viento (02/22)
  • $45 - Dinner from La Madonna (02/22 and 02/23)
  • $3 - Drink from Lunch Buffet (02/23) 
  • $30 - Lunch at Viento (02/24)
  • $12 - Dinner (02/24: pasta with jamon serrano) - cooked at the hotel
  • $15 - Breakfast for the whole stay (02/22-02/25)
  • $23 - Lunch at the airport
Food Total: $97.50

Total Expenses: approximately $440 for 5 days and 4 nights in Mexico, averaging $88 a day

This just proves that anyone can travel on a budget - and the fact that we traveled in style and luxury on this trip has been AMAZING!!!! 





The Goal to Travel for Absolutely Free

Money doesn´t grow on trees


Upon reading Chris Guillebeau's book and reading other blogs, I began to hatch up a big idea, and that is: how to travel for absolutely free.

When I mean travel, it has to be in the context of accommodations and flights... maybe a few attractions here and there. I´m still trying to figure out the workings for free food, but so far, nada on that front (unless I sign up for this credit card but I have yet to work out if they carry foreign transaction fees and such)


Traveling in style in Puerto Rico

Travel doesn´t have to be expensive, I agree, I was a backpacker at one point in time, staying at hostels and eating at the cheapest places that I can find (mostly street food), but now that I have the means to do luxury travel for the cost of backpacking the world, then maybe it´s more worth it to be a luxury traveler!

And when I say luxury, I meant it in a sense of staying in hotels: 3, 4, 5-star would be nice.

At the time I write this, I have already checked out of a 5 day, 4 night stay at the Westin Lagunamar in Cancun, Mexico, and let me tell you, all our plans went out the window as soon as we saw this resort. It is just so fantastically beautiful.

With that, I will launch a couple of segments about where we traveled and how much we spent on everything. For this Cancun, Mexico trip, we only spent around $500 per person (US) for food, accommodations, attractions, tips, and souvenirs. Not too bad eh?

Thanks to travelisfree.com, I have been inspired to travel for free: and why not?



Pardon the dust.....


Excuse us while we  burrow underground and try to finish the blog site. We are currently: 

1) Rebranding -  as you can see, we have renamed it from the fickle fan to "9-5 travel" and with this, a new About Page would be written - as there are two of us here that's controlling the blog and our focus has changed from a personal blog to something that's more dynamic. 

2) New Template - I have recently installed a new template and I haven't finished coding most parts of it. Give us a week to complete everything (as you know, we both have 9-5 jobs so we can only do major coding in the evening) and hopefully it'll be nice and neat in no time. 

3) New Product Offers - We are going to be offering products in this blog, such as coaching or mentoring sessions and some other things in the back burner. 

Thank you for your patience and I hope you stick with us! 

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