How I Book Hotels For Travel

For me, one of the more stressful and time consuming parts of any travel is the part that happens before you even leave home – the booking of the hotel and transportation for your holiday trip. When you are going to a place that has a lot of hotels, the process seems like it can take for ever. You normally have a set budget in mind and then just finding a place with decent ratings that fits in your budget and has availability can be a real pain.

Part of the problem is that it can be difficult to determine the hotel reviews that are real and those that are fake and paid for by the hotels themselves. For that reason, I like to start with just the middle of the road 3-star reviews and then I look for common themes among them – such as several of them complaining about loud noise from the street or something like that.

Another way that I have found to get the good hotels from the bad is by looking at the reviews on Booking.com. You see, on that site you can only leave a review once you have booked a confirmed stay through the website. This makes it a bit more difficult for hotels to gain fake reviews since it would be a rather costly endeavor for them, not that it can’t be done but it is definitely harder for them to do.

After I narrow down my option with Booking.com, I head over to TripAdvisor and maybe even Yelp to compare the reviews that they have with what I have seen on Booking.com. That usually helps me to make my final decision and then I go on and book the hotel from there. Unless I am signed up with the hotel’s rewards program, I usually just do the booking of the room on the Booking.com website or app because it is super easy to use. And I feel like I kind of owe them the booking since I used their site for my research.

What about you? Do you have any tips on making booking a hotel room an easier process?

Flying On Norwegian Airlines

If you spent any time at all this summer looking for cheap airfare, then you likely saw the discount prices advertised by Norwegian Airlines. As a family on a budget, the prices that they were offering were simply too good to pass up. Why? Because their rates were often hundreds of dollars cheaper than the other airlines offering the same routes.

In all, we ended up flying on Norwegian Airlines for a total of four flights this summer. Out of those four flights, two of them ended up leaving (and landing) late. So, that is a 50% late flight average right there. Not the best ratio to start out with. They also seemed to wait until the very last moment to board the plane, but would then try to rush people into their seats.

The staff was nice enough – not overly friendly but not rude either. The food and drinks served on the long flights was average, which kind of suck since you have to pay extra for food on the the flights. Yup, this is one of those nickel and dime you for everything airlines.

The comfort level was not that great, in fact it was below average. Since the planes are very new, I was expecting better comfort. What I got was less leg room than I have ever experienced and less under-seat space due to the housing for the seat back electronics that give you the little TV screens at each seat. There was also a LOT of heat coming from those screens, which made the cabin really warm before take-off and that sucked.

Would I fly them again? Probably only in two scenarios – a super cheap deal on a short flight OR in an upgraded cabin. The lack of space in economy would definitely not be comfortable for a long flight. The almost two hours that I spent sitting there for each flight was really uncomfortable and I am only 5-ft 8-in in height, so it has to be REALLY terrible for tall people and guys that are really built and buff.

How to Pack Light for Carry On Only

Whether you are traveling for a quick overnight trip or a lengthy RTW trip, it is possible to travel by plane without checking any luggage. This is great for travelers for several reasons.

  • No extra baggage fees
  • No waiting at the luggage conveyor belt after flights
  • You don’t take too much stuff since carry-on space is limited
  • Great excuse to buy items once you arrive!

If you are interested in trying to go with only carry-on items, then let me give you some tips and suggestions.

Pack Smart

Don’t worry about packing limitations. One carry on bag is all you need to dress appropriately for any occasion. Keep in mind that you should wear clothing that is interchangeable. Keep clothing to two colors that are easy to mix and match. For example, black and white or some other combination. Only pack two pairs of shoes. One pair for day and a dressy pair for night-time events. Create more space by rolling clothing together, instead of stacking them in your carry on bag.

Even better opt for things made out of wool, like Smart Wool shirts, that you can hand wash and have quick drying properties. Plus, the wool will not hold odor, so you can re-wear a few times before washing!

Efficient Packing Tips Win

Pack to save space. For example, buy sample size toiletries and place them in a small clear bag, instead of carrying full-size toiletries. Leave the magazines and romance novels at home. Instead, download all your reading material to an e-reader. This will save you plenty of extra space in your carry on. There are plenty of space saving gadgets available today. Check out the latest gadgets at local retailers or online.

Buy Upon Arrival

It is a good idea to remember that in most cases, you can buy what you need when you arrive at your destination. So, leave that shampoo and toothpaste at home. Instead, hit up the local drugstore and buy what you need. As a bonus, you can even buy some fresh food when you go out, which is healthier for you! As for clothes, you can even visit local thrift shops and second hand stores and leave most of the clothing at home too!

Remember Security Regulations

Security regulations severely limit the items that you are allowed to carry on or bring aboard. Know the regulations before you start packing for your trip. Check out the TSA website for up-to-date information on their rules and regulations concerning items allowed. Remember to keep gels and liquids to three ounces or less. Items over the regulated size are confiscated. Pack wisely and know the regulations.

Need more suggestions? Check out the video below for some additional tips in video form

Who can survive Zark’s tombstone challenge

For those who can munch a big punch you may want to try one of these gigantic burger . You’ll definitely feel a big blow on your stomach after finishing the whole burger, only here at Zarks. I only see this type of challenge at the “Man Vs. Food” cable program, I never thought we have one of these in the Philippines. So test our strength we went to Vito Cruz , just in front of La Salle to see if we can survive the challenge.

Looking at it, I wanted to order the smallest available burger but I thought might as well try one from the Big Major League Menu.

I ordered the Jackhammer. This contain ½ patty stuffed with mozzarella and cheddar cheese for P185. My husband tried the Jawbreaker, it has triple layer of burger patties with spam, bacon and oozing with cheese on top. This actually is worth P250.

Aside from that we ordered nachos. They have a generous serving with a reasonable price. Both of the burger taste good as well. We did not order the Tombstone burger , looking at it, I’m sure we’re both gonna be dead meat. If you dare to be a survivor, you may want to join their Jawbreaker challenge wherein you have to finish the Burger, 300 grms of fries and 1 glass of iced tea w/in 5 mins. If you win you’ll get it for free plus you’ll have your picture posted on their Wall of Fame.

Another challenge is the Tombstone challenge. You’ll have to finish a whole 2-pound cheeseburger covered w/ cheese sauce, 300grams of fries and 1 glass of iced tea with in 10mins. If you survive prize is the same with the jawbreaker challenge but you’ll also get a free t-shirt. By the way the price of the tombstone burger is P500.

So if you think you can beat this beef, visit Zarks! This is definitely a whole new experience.

Overnight at Hacienda Darasa

A short but relaxing way to escacpe from the busy city…

This experience is really rewarding plus the fact that its less expensive and the travel is hassle free. Hacienda darasa is located at 791 Pres. Laurel Highway Darasa, Tanauan City, Batangas, Philippines. We took a bus cant remember how much the fare exactly is but its somewhere w/in P100-110 range per person. When you reach the place you wouldnt even know where to go since there’s a long path going into the place. But you can actually ask the guard to direct you to the main biulding (there’s a small guard post outside the vicinity). If I were to asssess the place there’s nothing extravagant. the place is so simple some parts under developed, but once I explored the place I realized this is the type of place where you would really like to spend you vacation. far from the city and the crowd. When we went there the place is actually fully booked. There were companies having their team building and other’s just the normal vacation . The place has 2 large pools(1 for adult and 1 for kids w/slide).

There’s a big backyard full of trees where you’ll feel close to nature. you can also use the basketball and volleyball court.

The room and bathroom is neat, AC, cable Tv, and heater is working fine, although they have poor wifi connection when your inside your room. (even brought our smart bro and barely had signal).

They also have a small resto. The food is good and has reasonable price.

The service is great everyone is accomodating. Very courteuos, friendly and attentive to our needs.

So overall I should say the place is very relaxing . It gave us the feel that we are at our own rest house somewhere in the province. Comfy and relaxing.

You may check their website as prices may change : http://www.haciendadarasa.com/

A remarkably relaxing experience at Hotel H2O

Im sure most of you guys have been to Manila Ocean Park… But I hope you haven’t missed experiencing one of the extraordinary Hotels in the country. Hotel H2O. After all the sight-seeing from various marine life creatures, the muisical light show and other features and show that the park has to offer, it’s nice to have a quiet time to rest and feel the serene beauty of nature. Calmness of the sea and feel the cool breeze blowing your mind away from all the stress and the hassle of the city life.

After giving birth to my 3rd baby, my husband and I decided to spend a vacation to relieve stress and tension.We’ve decided to try and visit H2O hotel. One good way to relax,enjoy the beauty of nature with in the city.

They have very accommodating and courteous staff. The place is well maintained and the ambiance is so refreshing and comfy you would want to stay in this place for a lifetime.

On out first night we tried out the Parkview room.

This is our view from the room.I don’t think there’s a need for you to buy the ticket for the musical or seal show since you can watch it in full while in the comfort of your own bed. They just had the windows tinted at the same level of the bed (i think they did that after some unwanted incident).

This is the bathroom, quite neat, and the sink just right outside it. The only thing I didn’t like is that they don’t have bidet since the shower is separated from the toilet bowl.

We also got the chance to stay at the amazing aqua room where in you get to stay inside a 42 sqm room and have the view of live sea creatures in front of your very own eyes. This is where we stayed on our 2nd night in the hotel.

The bed is bigger and the bathroom is separated from the bed unlike in the parkview room. The only thing I don’t like about the rooms is that there are no electrical plugs near the bed.

Another thing that’s good about the Hotel, its said to be the only hotel that uses negative ion with in the whole infrastructure, so it’s definitely a healthy place to stay in. Free wi-fi access. You just need to dial 0(zero) and ask for an access . The access code by the way will expire w/in 24 hrs. You can only use the wi-fi username and password per unit (laptop/tablet/phone). So if in case you want to have wi-fi access on your phone, tab and laptop, you’ll have to request 3 username and password.

They also have different amenities you can use.

The spa. The image on the left is called the fish spa. (was not able to take a closer look because I was scared to go there alone) The price is Php 300. The right image is for the massage w/c cost Php 700. They have the hot bed as well w/c is for Php 400.

This is best for families especially for those who have kids less than 12 yrs old since you can share rooms w/ them free of charge. You are allowed to bring in food inside your hotel room. No corkage fee. Overall, its really a wonderful experience. I must say the price is all worth it.

The Largest Floating Bookfair Experience

Having heard that a floating vessel housing almost 5,000 book titles With 400 volunteer crews from 45 different countries at set its anchor here in Manila, my husband and I decided to take a visit and explore this unique lifeboat experience.
M.V Logos Hope is a project of German-based organization Good Book for All (GBA),
Its vision is to Bring Knowledge, Bring Help and Bring Hope.

To start with Entrance fee is only P20.Once you enter the ship you will be directed to sit on their lifeboat deck to give you some information about the ship and what their journey is all about.

Next will be the book fair. A lot of books to choose from. The books are being sold at a very reasonable price. A lot cheaper actually compared to other bookstores. I was happy with the books I bought for my kids. This is what I liked the most from the books that I purchased.

They also sell Logos Hope Ballers, ID laces/tags, pencils, pens and the likes. You may check the images I’ve uploaded you may spot something that you might want to buy.

They’re giving away this cute bag as souvenirs and Our daily bread books. The ID lace is P150 each.You may also want to Donate P50 (this is actually a fixed amount, I was giving them a P100 because I wanted to get 2 MV logos Pin but they wouldn’t accept it, they said P50 is kind enough)

There’s a long line in the payment area. They’re accepting credit cards but there are instances that it’s not working (maybe there’s a problem with the line or connection). I was lucky because when I was near the cashier, they announced that the credit card payments are now being accepted.

After the book fair is the so-called “Journey of Life” They have the story painted on the wall and I asked one of the friendly ship crew to tell its story and had it recorded in video.

Last part will be the International café if in case you got hungry from choosing, reading and gazing from all the books you can see inside. There’s really so much to explore. Definitely a very enriching experience. I’ll definitely bring my kids with us the next time another floating bookstore set deck in manila.