I want to show that travel does not have to be expensive. If you travel independently, avoid package tours, stay in budget accommodation, and don’t go crazy with activities, it can be downright cheap. That was the case for me in the Philippines.

I collect data with an app called Toshl. It lets me manually record each expense in real time. This is more work up front, but it works well for me because most expenses in Asia are in cash. If I don’t record them right away there would be no way to tell where my money’s going.

I spent two months in the Philippines, split between traveling and staying in one place. I did two trips, both two weeks long. The first to the north part of the main island of Luzon, and the second to the remote frontier of Palawan.

My Spending For Two Months In The Philippines

Here are my numbers.

CategoryCostCost Per Day
Everything Else562

The total cost of a month of independent, budget travel in the Philippines was only $1250. This is below the $50 a day threshold of budget travel advocated by Nomadic Matt.

My sleeping costs could have been cut further by sharing a room, or staying in dorms. However, cheap, basic rooms are available everywhere in the Philippines. Note that rooms like this often have a shared bathroom, a cold bucket shower, bedbugs, may not be as clean as you are used to, or some combination of those or other deficiencies. Bring pajamas to cover your legs and arms. Nicer rooms are available, but those will raise your costs considerably.

Shopping here would be a good way to save money, but I never had a stove!
Shopping here would be a good way to save money, but I never had a stove!

I can save money by sleeping in basic accommodation, but I love to eat, and this is the category I struggle the most with. But food in the Philippines is not expensive, so I did pretty well. There’s usually less temptation to spend on food outside of major cities, so that helped me here.

Activities includes tours, sites, hiking, island hopping, renting motorbikes, and everything else I did. This spending could be completely eliminated if I just sat in my room all day. But that wouldn’t make for a very interesting blog, would it?

Transportation is both local taxis, long distances buses and ferries, and one flight. Cutting that one flight would have saved $80.

Finally, “everything else” is drinking, getting a massage, buying small items at the drugstore, etc. Costs here were low because I didn’t do much of those things while I was on the road.

The biggest expense when traveling is the long flight to Asia. This report is for in-country costs only. Incidentally, I cashed in frequent flyer miles and only paid $50 for my flight.

So traveling in the Philippines can be pretty cheap, as long as you can tolerate the guesthouses. Or have a traveling partner to split accommodation costs. For me traveling for two weeks, taking a break to stay in a nice hotel, then traveling for two more weeks worked pretty well.

I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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