Apo Reef - Dream Vacation - The Hollapinos
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(Last Updated On: July 28, 2020)Are you someone who has a dream vacation or destination but thinks that it’s impossible to become a reality? Do you think you can never achieve your dream vacation because you don’t have the money for it? Have you ever thought that you are destined to stay in one place your whole life? I did not think travel was impossible for me but I also did not dream big! Hopefully, my story will inspire you to never give up on your travel dreams! Apo Reef - Dream Vacation - The Hollapinos

My dream vacation

Going to Thailand used to be my dream vacation. I told myself that I have achieved my ultimate travel goal when I can visit Thailand. It wasn’t easy for me to achieve it as I am someone who can only afford flights on sale.  I was lucky to book cheap flights to local destinations and other Asian countries but was never given the opportunity to find a cheap flight to Thailand.

Cheap accommodations

In the past, I’ve gone as cheap as booking a room where the sides of the bed meet the walls of the room. Its toilet used curtains instead of walls for division so when you go on number two, the entire room will stink. There was a time that I booked a room in a hotel in a red-light district because it was cheap but every night there were girls lined up in front of the hotel like they were in a beauty pageant. When my return flight was early in the morning, I won’t book a room to stay for the night to save money. I slept on the airport floor instead. Have you done any of these? Share in the comments section about your cheap accommodation experiences!

Not enough budget

Once the flight and the accommodation have been booked, I will save for my travel budget but I can only save a little amount. There were trips when my bag was full of canned goods and crackers because they were cheaper than buying a meal in a restaurant. I also went on trips when my cash on hand is not enough to support the whole trip but since I will get paid while I was on vacation, I went with enough cash until the payday. On payday, I withdrew cash from an ATM to support the rest of my trip. The downside if I am out of the country, there is an international fee of $3 to $4 for every withdrawal. You see, I don’t have an abundance of money. I have financial obligations too but I am determined to travel. I believe that I can travel to several destinations and I find ways to make it happen. Do you still think your dream vacation is impossible? Read on.
Benicia California - The Hollapinos
California Dreaming in Benicia

Unexpected dream vacation

One day, I was offered a flight voucher worth $700 and only to pay half of its worth. I said yes even if I don’t have the money to pay for it. Good thing, I was also given time to pay for it. I was lucky! Palau in Micronesia was the destination I chose using that voucher. It was not a cheap destination but I was thrilled because I don’t know anyone who has been to Palau. After booking my flight, I sent out several emails to accommodations hoping to get a cheap quotation. On the contrary, I got offers from $45 to $150 per night. I cannot afford that! As per my research, I can book a homestay for $35 but most of them are not available during my entire stay. I was fortunate because one of my emails was forwarded to an apartment owner since the recipient of my email had no vacancy on my dates. I told the apartment owner that I am travelling on a budget and she was willing to work with my budget as long as I am okay to stay in her daughter’s room.

Some people treat you as a guest in their home, not a guest in their business

Of course, I cannot be choosy! Moreover, she offered the stay at $25! Not only that, but she also gave me a free lunch in their restaurant on my first day in Palau and one night free of stay! My daily breakfast in Palau was my usuals: crackers and canned sausage. When lunch is included in my tour, I will eat lunch. If not, I will just have an early dinner in a restaurant. After a few days of stay in Palau, a Filipina who works in the apartment started to give me packed food for my breakfast and lunch to go when I tour around. I know I can survive without it but I am happy with her kind gesture. To return her kindness, I left the local SIM card I purchased in Palau for her to use.

Read more about Palau here>>

I achieved my dream vacation

A friend invited me to tour with her in Singapore. After booking my flight to Singapore, things didn’t go as planned with her then my mom said she wanted to go with me.
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My mom returned to Manila earlier than me because she can only spare a couple of vacation days from work. When I was checking return flights to Manila, I noticed a direct flight from Singapore to Manila costs as much as a flight from Singapore to Bangkok then Bangkok to Manila. I decided to take the latter and toured in Thailand for half-day. With little time, I simply toured and did a little shopping in Siam. During that time, it was not the vacation I dreamed of with Thailand but good things come to those who never give up.  A few months after that trip, I was able to book flights for my mom and I to Thailand from a midnight seat sale.  The travel dates were eleven months away from the date but we were okay with it! It means more time for me to save for the trip. After the long wait, we both enjoyed our tours in Bangkok and Pattaya!
After dragon boat training - The Hollapinos
Because of travel and dragon boat, I met the love of my life

Say yes to travel opportunities

When I was asked to join a team to race in Italy, I said yes in less than a second then thought where will I get the money to go to Europe the next second. “Come what may!”, I told myself. I believe that things will work out in my favor and I will be able to go to Europe. Our friend who works in a travel agency booked us a ticket and allowed us to pay for it even after the trip. Another friend also loaned me a big amount of money as financial proof for my visa application Our visa was approved right away. My friend allowed me to use the money for my trip and to pay him back when I can. I had a lot to pay such as the flight ticket, the loaned money, and the credit card bills after that trip but if I was not determined and courageous, I would not be able to travel to Europe. Click HERE for the list of the 10 countries I have travelled.

Travel and the love of my life

I would have not met my husband if I did not say yes to travel to Cebu for a dragon boat race. I was invited to join a team from Los Angeles to race in Cebu. Mike was also racing in Cebu with another team from North America. He saw me talking to a common friend then that friend introduced us to each other. The rest was history. Because of Mike, I had the reason to go to the US. I never thought I would be interested in visiting the US since I am already okay about visiting the amazing beaches in Asia and the trip to the US is expensive.

Why you need to dream big

My dream vacation was not big because I never thought that I can travel outside of Asia but because I said yes to every travel opportunity, I was able to travel farther.

Why you should not give up on your dream vacation

As long as you have a job or any source of income, you can make things work so you can travel even if you don’t earn that much. You need to be determined, hopeful, and resourceful so that travel will be possible for you.

You should recognize all types of travel

Know that not all dream vacations require flights. Your dream vacation may be a nice remote white beach that can be accessible by riding a bus then a boat transfer. A dream vacation may also be a long drive from the city to a breathtaking view out of town. We all have a friend who has a car then split the cost to everyone. You don’t know anyone with a car? No problem! Book joiner tours! These are organized budget tours where transportation is included in the package. There were tours that I joined to minimize my travel cost and yet have the vacation of my life!
Lake Tahoe - Dream Vacation - The Hollapinos
A view after a long drive to Lake Tahoe


Do you still think your dream vacation is impossible? You may not have been offered a flight voucher for half the price nor loaned a big amount of money like me but you must believe that things will work out for you in a unique way.  As long as you will never give up on your travel dreams, it will come to you! I look forward to your unique story! Also, do your best and God will do the rest. Do you have an inspiring story to tell about achieving your dream vacation? I would love to know your story so please share it in the comment section below. Do you know someone who needs some inspiration? Help them by sharing this post!

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  1. Thank you for sharing your inspirational story. I never thought I’d be able to travel outside of the US because I thought it was too expensive and I was worried that I didn’t know what I was doing. After doing some research I realized that it’s not as expensive as I thought, and like you said, you figure out ways to cut back on some costs. I also realized that no one else knows what they are doing either. It’s not nearly as scary as you think. After the first trip outside of your comfort zone it gets much easier. Hopefully you can inspire others to get out there too!

  2. This is so amazing thank you for sharing this! I have always wanted to travel which is why i have previously taken opportunities in America over summer that I wouldn’t normally get the chance to do!

    Amber | The Unpredicted Page

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The Author

Katie is a Software Quality Assurance Analyst by profession. She is also a dragon boat paddler, a Crossfit athlete, and a weightlifter by passion. She has travelled within Asia, Europe, and Micronesia before meeting Mike.

Mike and I went to El Nido, Palawan the following…