A Visit to the Philippines: Good for You, Good for Them
I’m a Europhile. I have always had (and probably will always have) a major crush on Europe, despite the fact that for years she’s sapped my bank account dry for even the shortest of trips. I’m enjoying a trip to Italy right now that’s a helluva lot cheaper than other recent trips to Italy have been, but I’m still spending way more every day here than I would if I’d fallen in love with some other destination on the planet.
The truth is that there are so many travel bargains out there right now that it almost doesn’t matter if your favorite place is typically on the more expensive list. Visiting that place right now will still likely cost you a fraction of what it cost last year. But if you’re talking about going to a place that even last year was a bargain, then you’re really going to be saving a bundle.
One of the places that fits that description is the Philippines. Southeast Asia in general has always been much cheaper than Europe to travel in, which is one of the biggest reasons it’s such a rite of passage for so many budget travelers and college backpackers. But while places like Thailand (Bangkok in particular) and Bali are almost always on the must-visit lists of budget travelers, the Philippines doesn’t always make the cut. Is it because people can’t remember whether it’s two Ls or two Ps in the name? Who can say?
Whatever the reason, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t have the Philippines on your list. In addition to flights to Philippines being a great bargain, it’s also a gorgeous country known for its incredible cuisine and – perhaps above all – its mind-blowingly-beautiful beaches. They’re not exactly undiscovered gems, but you’re likely to find yourself sharing the sand with more locals than tourists in some places.
Now, despite what I’ve said here about the Philippines being such a great place to visit for budgetary reasons, and despite the fact that when you’re booking your airline tickets to Philippines you’re not really thinking about anything but how much money is coming out of your wallet, the truth is that the current state of the economy is hurting more than just people who might have traveled more last year than they are this year. It’s also hurting the people who work in the tourist industry around the world. So while a rock-bottom price on airfare or a hotel overlooking a beach in the Philippines is absolutely reason enough to go, you can also pat yourself on the back when you support the local tourism-based economy of a place like the Philippines, too.
How do you know you’re supporting the locals? Well, even if you don’t arrive on the islands via uniquely Philippine airlines, you can still do your part once you’re on the ground. Stay in a smaller guest house or hotel rather than a big chain operation. Eat in mom-and-pop places instead of major restaurants. Hire a local guide to show you the sights instead of booking a spot on a big group tour. Buy souvenirs from someone who’s made them by hand rather than the cheap knick-knacks you could find anywhere.
Yes, your money will go a lot further this year than in the past, and in a place like the Philippines it’ll go further still – but your money can also make an impact on the lives of the locals, too, which is pretty cool.