Find the Cheapest Flights to Anywhere in the World

“Have you booked our flights yet?!”

That’s Christine yelling at me as I continue to scour the Internet, falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole, searching for the next best flight deal that never seems to come. I tell myself the perfect budget flight is just around the corner, but that was a few hours ago and I’m not having any luck.

Sound all too familiar? You’re not alone! You’re one of the millions of people every year looking to find the best flight deals for that next big adventure! You know the feeling, the more you search, the harder it becomes. But finding the perfect flight recipe doesn’t have to be that difficult. Two parts destination, a cup of designated dates, a sprinkle of preferred departure time and then liberally apply a ton of savings!

Narrowing Down the Flight Search

With the amount of flight booking websites and apps out there, it’s no surprise people are having a hard time digesting information in the quest to find cheap, flexible flight deals. Even for us, as frequent flyers and world travelers for over five years, the plethora of options can be a tad overwhelming when we begin to plan for our next big trip!

Thankfully, we’ve now been able to narrow down our search for flights to just one super handy search engine that has time and time again provided us with the cheapest flights with flexible dates.



Enter Skyscanner, Savior of the Flight Searchers, First of its Name. Guaranteed to help you find flights that suit your timing, budget and journey of discovery all in one. Originally created as a website, Skyscanner also comes in a very functional and user friendly app that makes finding that amazing flight deal even easier when you’re already on the go.

“So what’s so good about Skyscanner?”

Glad you asked! I know your time and attention is limited, because you’re preoccupied thinking about that next adventure, so I’ll jump straight into it.


Super Flexible Flight Searches

A lot of flight search engines let you toy with a few days here and there, maybe let you check for airports near your destination, but Skyscanner gives you full creative control of when and where you want to go in the world. And for us, this is one of the most important qualities when booking a trip.

When we were leaving San Francisco for Mexico, we didn’t waste any time searching for individual cities in Mexico, checking and rechecking which city was the cheapest at different dates. We simply jumped on Skyscanner, searched San Francisco Airport to ‘Mexico’ and got a listing of all the cheap flexible flights available, for all cities. This feature is awesome for finding super random cheap deals to an airport you didn’t even know existed.



What’s even better than being able to search for flexible cities? Flexible flight dates! Another awesome feature is the ability to look for the best deals within a whole month. If you’re one of those ‘go with the flow’ type travelers like us, you’ll love this! The search engine will literally pull all the available flights for that whole month and give you an easy layout to see which is cheapest. On the app you get a super simple color-coded chart on the dates. Red means too expensive, yellow is getting there and green means its time to get going!


We use this feature to find the best flight deals, and then we generally build our itinerary around that. For us it always works out to be the cheapest way to fly around the world. In 2015, when traveling through Southeast Asia we used this function a lot. It helped us save a bunch on flights from Vietnam to the Philippines by being open about when we could fly.



Added Inspiration and Adventure

Feeling extra adventurous and spontaneous? Take advantage of the ‘Search Everywhere’ function where you can literally pull the best round the world flight deals straight to your phone or computer. Simply enter your departure airport, search dates (specific days or month) and away you go!

The results will rank the countries by cheapest available flight within the month or date. You just pick which place you want to go and Skyscanner will show you which cities and dates are the cheapest. This flexibility definitely adds an element of excitement to the whole trip planning journey. The idea that you could just pack up and hit the road on a killer deal within the week really gets us excited about travel.



In the Skyscanner app, this is made even easier with the Top Deals feature. They’ll find the best low cost flights based off your closest airport and send a notification directly to your phone. All you have to do is kick back and get inspired for that next exciting trip.

Warning, this feature is bound to induce wild impulsive flights to exciting new places you’ve never even heard of. We take full responsibility for the amount of awesome times you’ll have!

Personalize Your Flight Search

A great way to utilize all the best features of Skyscanner is to download the app, set up some price alerts and let the app do the rest. Planning on a holiday this summer but don’t want to search for cheap flights to Europe every day? Finally headed on that backpacking trip around Central America and want the cheapest deals? Tell Skyscanner and they’ll look after you, sending out notifications to your phone whenever your ideal flight pops up on their searches. You can now spend more time kicking it by the pool instead of checking your phone.



Price alerts are not only convenient, but they’re exciting! It’s like receiving a message from someone saying ‘time to go see the world’, and we couldn’t agree more!

To start your next adventure, jump onto Skyscanner and start planning your trip today! Or grab the app and get lost in the deals in the next boring office meeting you have to attend.

Like this Post? Pin It or Share It For Others!

Disclosure: We love Skyscanner, and not just because they’ve helped sponsor this post, but because for years they’ve been our number one go to search engine for booking budget flights. We would never promote a company we didn’t fully trust, support and use ourselves. It’s just happens that they support us as well!

Train Travel in Cuba: A How to Guide

Whether you’re looking for an alternative mode of transport in Cuba, or you’ve left your bookings too late and planes and buses are full (like us), the train network in Cuba offers a unique experience that adds to Cuba’s already quaint characteristics.

And what an experience it is! Comfortable? Not really! On time? Definitely not! Authentic Cuba? Definitely! Worth it? Absolutely!

Regardless of how stinky the toilets are, how annoying the regaetton music is, or how long it actually takes compared to the ‘schedule’; train travel in Cuba provides a real eye opener to how Cubans travel across the country and is an experience well worth the surface-level difficulties.

Cuba Train Schedules

Here comes the first challenge. Finding the correct train schedule in Cuba is about as realistic as the scammers in the street selling you real ‘original’ Cuban cigars!

If you do a quick Google search you won’t find anything official from Cuba, but you’ll come across a few websites that have listed some tentative schedules. However, even they’ll be the first to tell you, ‘take Cuba’s train schedules as nothing more than a guide’.

Train schedules in Cuba can change from month to month, making it hard to really plan ahead. If you’re thinking of a trip it’s always best to visit the station and see in advance before making too many plans. Which is exactly what we did with our train trip from Havana to Camaguey. Whether you’re leaving from Havana, or any other Cuban city, make sure to check in advance.

Taking a Train From Havana

In Havana the central train station is located in Habana Vieja (Old Havana), but that station is currently under renovation and not scheduled to reopen until at least 2018. In the mean time La Coubre, which is conveniently located right next door to the central station, is the alternative station for all trains leaving from Havana.

When you get to La Coubre train station there is a booking office and a main departures area. At the booking office they should be able to help you work out the next available train for wherever you want to go, but if they’re not open go into the departures lounge and either ask around or check out the departures board.

Above is a picture of the departures board for Havana in March 2016. What appears to be cryptic code is actually relatively easy to decipher upon further inspection. There are four trains departing, each with their own designated number and destination. Of those four trains each has their own specific departure days (most leave every three days), which correspond with the dates in the top left corner.

After you’ve worked out the trains you’ll need to find out which one actually stops where you want to go, then you can go back and figure out the date and time that it will leave.

For example, we were headed to Camaguey so we asked around to see what trains pass that station. For us the next available train that passed Camaguey was the Number 15 to Guantanamo. We then check the Number 15 schedule, saw it was leaving on the 28th of March at 6:53pm and booked our corresponding ticket. See, it’s easy!

Traveling by Train in Cuba: The Experience

After eagerly anticipating if the train to Guantanamo would actually depart at its ridiculously precise time of 6:53pm, we weren’t surprised that it finally kicked off more than two hours later than scheduled.

While we weren’t too fussed about the delayed departure, the time spent waiting on board the train was unbelievably hot and stuffy. In all seriousness a doctor actually came on board at one stage to check on someone who had appeared to pass out only a few seats in front of us. Once they’d been given the all clear and received due medical attention (a few men waving homemade cardboard fans at them) it was time to hit the tracks!

After a clunky start, the train finally settled into a rickety rhythm and the night air began to fill the carriages and filter through the suffocatingly thick air surrounding us. At this stage a couple of girls behind us thought the whole train might be interested in listening to some pumping regaetton tunes for the first couple of hours, but by midnight the train was pretty subdued.

As the train chugged away throughout the night any temporary periods of sleep were interrupted by frequent stops. For all the major stations, where you’re likely to be visiting, an attendant comes up and down the aisles to shout out the next spot. Don’t be worried about missing the call; they’ll be no chance of you sleeping through the actual stop as the train makes an ever so gracious clank and jolt, almost enough to throw you from your seat, every time it comes to a halt.

In the morning the vendors emerged from their slumber and begin to trawl the aisles hawking their wares. Anything from crackers and ham sandwiches, to slabs of cheese, milk powder and 40-watt light globes. As they paced the train we watched on in admiration of their perseverance.

Cuban Countryside and Views

One of the best things about the train being so late, and taking twelve hours instead of the supposed eight, was that it gave us some daytime to view our surroundings. As the sun rose above the horizon, and shone its light on a new day, we got a look at Cuba’s beautiful countryside and small railroad towns that passed before our eyes.

Wide open fields and farms stretched as far as the eye can see. The occasional campesino (farmer) can be seen in the distance hacking away at some crops, or rounding up cattle. As the train passes some of the smaller towns you can see what a real Cuban town looks like without any tourist infrastructure in place.

Traveling by train in Cuba is an experience that really accentuates the uniqueness of Cuba. It might sound like a bit of a mission, but experiencing life as a local is what makes traveling to Cuba so special. Sure you could pop aboard a nice air-conditioned bus or jump on a flight, but train travel in Cuba is about as authentic as it gets if you want to really see how the locals live. And for us, that’s what traveling is all about!

Day Trip to Napa Valley California: Wine, Food and Scenic Delights

If you’re anything of a wine lover then no doubt you’ve heard of the famous Napa Valley just north of San Francisco, California. Iconic not only for its selection of quality wines, but also for delicious food and breath taking scenery.

If you fancy the odd glass of vino then you really can’t miss out on planning a trip to Napa Valley while traveling through Northern California. And even if you’re not a massive wine drinker, enjoying a day in Napa Valley is an ideal opportunity for seeing California’s picturesque landscapes and indulging in quality restaurants.

Traveling to Napa Valley

A trip to Napa Valley is only two hours north from San Francisco, making it the ideal weekend getaway to treat yourself to one of the many quaint bed and breakfasts cottages in the area. Or in our case, the perfect day trip escape from the city. Our morning started in San Francisco, but a short time in the van saw us fully immersed in the California countryside.

While traveling to Napa Valley be sure to keep an eye on the gorgeous countryside. The road is lined with rolling green hills, full of bright mustard flowers and grape vines. In the sunlight the bright yellow petals of the flowers pop against the sharp green blades of grass, and every so often fields of flowers open up to rows upon rows of vineyards.

These vineyards are like the gold mines of Napa Valley, with their rows upon rows of spindly vines creeping along the fences. Each branch is trimmed to perfection and ready to provide quality wines around the world. And of all the quality selections on offer, the wines came from the beautiful Chiarello Family Vineyards. These wines can be sampled on site, or if you’re feeling a little peckish enjoy a glass or two over lunch at Bottega Restaurant

Where to Eat in Napa Valley

Bottega Restaurant is the dainty kind of place that you’d expect to see in a fairy tale wedding. White cherry blossom trees line the entrance, with droplets of petals falling softly like a light winter’s snow. The gardens are manicured to perfection with seamlessly mowed lawns and vibrant flowers that contrast against the rustic brick of the buildings to give the whole grounds a colorful pop.

Famous TV chef, proprietor of Chiarello Vineyard and long time Napa residet  Michael Chiarello heads the restaurant with his brilliant staff. He has added his modern take on some classic Italian dishes and they are delicious! Expect the same rich tomato flavors you’d expect from tradition Italian cuisine, but with more flare and extra ingredients to really make the dishes standout.

For me, the wood oven baked zucchini and potato lasagna, with a shaved mushroom and celery salad, was the winner for the day. The menu was creative and varied, and I even gave my arch nemesis Brussels sprouts another shot with a delicious shaved Brussels sprouts antipasti dish.

Throughout the lunch we were treated to a selection of wines to sample, notably their crisp Chiara Bianco white with notes of white peach and pear, and their Giana Zinfandel with its mix of red and blue berries. I’d never really considered myself much of a wine drinker, but after sampling a few throughout the day I was ready to keep them coming.

Where to Drink in Napa Valley

If you’re heading to Napa, chances are you’re planning on doing a little wine tasting. There may not be any better place in the world than Napa Valley for tasting wines. The winery selection is exquisite and the views overlooking the vineyards while sipping on a glass just enhance the experience. There are plenty of wonderful wineries depending on your preference including Robert Mondavi and Rutherford.

We especially recommend visiting the Trinchero Family Winery. Their newly re-opened tasting room has cozy, old world charm that will make you feel right at home. The winery is family run and the attention to quality shows through in their delicious wines. Their whites are fantastic but their deep, rich reds are really special. We absolutely loved the Forte and Mario’s Cabernet Sauvignon. The staff at the winery are expert sommeliers and can help you find the perfect selection to take a few bottles home and enjoy later. We’ll be keeping a few bottles from this winery on hand for for those nights we feel like indulging and gifts for close family and friends. I know what mom’s getting for her birthday this year!



Exploring Napa Valley

After lunch, sufficiently full and feeling a little buzzed from the wine, it was really nice to finish the day with a walk around the gardens to take in the atmosphere of the countryside and all that Napa has to offer.

Just down the road from Chiarello is the famous French Laundry headed by Thomas Keller. What appears to be a pretty casual and laid back little restaurant is actually one of the most sought after on the West Coast, with people making reservations months in advance just to get a chance to dine there.

We weren’t lucky enough to check it out, but we did get the chance to wander around the garden across the road from French Laundry, where the restaurant grows all it’s own organic produce. It’s a lovely garden to stroll through, especially if the sun is shining, the sky is clear and you’ve got a little bit of left of wine to enjoy with good friends.

And that’s really what Napa is all about! Whether you’re up there on a wild bachelor or bachelorette party, a tamer family reunion or just a couple of friends wanting a fun day out, Napa has something for everyone! Any visit to California should be rounded off with a leisurely day of wine tasting in Napa, or in other cases, a wild fiesta!

Thanks to Visit California for showing me the best Napa Valley day trip and providing some quality restaurant and wine experiences. You were always going to win me over with free wine… but I think you knew that!

Fine Dining and Food Tours in San Francisco

As a long-term traveler, forever bouncing around the world, it can sometimes be hard to find time to appreciate a real fine dining experience. Over the years, due to convenience and cost, I’ve learned to replace leisurely restaurant outings and fancy cocktails bars for chowing down on the side of the road with some $1.50 Pad Thai in Thailand, or drinking homemade rum and cokes in Cuba.

And while I’m all for those types of experiences, after spending some time exploring the San Francisco Bay Area culinary scene, I’m once again reminded that there’s a clear difference between good food, and a really great dining experience. Not only is the food incredible, but you also get the whole restaurant atmosphere, which is creatively derived from the passion of the talented chefs sweating away in the kitchen.

After bulging my belly, eating and drinking my way around San Francisco, here’s my take on some of the Bay Area’s top spots to check out for traveling foodies and locals alike.

Best Sweets in San Francisco

Tucked away on the third floor of Macy’s Union Square Store, Tout Sweet patisserie is a spot that should not be missed for anyone with a sweet tooth. Rich malted double chocolate tarts, butterscotch puddings, zesty lemon tarts, cookies, nine choices of delicious macarons and many many delectable desserts line their menu.

With a plethora of selections, you’re guaranteed to find something that satisfies your sugary needs. Or if you’re like me you might find a dozen things you enjoy amongst the creative variety. You could easily spend a morning brunch in here sipping fresh coffee and making your way through the menu, but if you’ve got a big day of eating grab some to go and don’t fill up too much.

Led by the passionate Yigit Pura, he’s not only an enthusiast for great sweets, he’s also an ardent advocate of human rights and using his public profile to help raise awareness for a range of fantastic social causes. It’s always great to see people leveraging their ability to make a difference in the world, as well as crafting up some masterful desserts of course.

San Francisco Food Tours in Little Italy

Taking a walk througj North Beach kind of feels like stepping into a genuine slice of Italy. And while we’re speaking of slices, its here, among many things, that you’ll find some of the best pizza in all of San Francisco.

Conveniently located all within walking distance, North Beach has everything you need if you’re into classic Italian cuisine. From old school salami delis, authentic pizza places, freshly creamed cannoli and traditional Italian restaurants lined with old black and white photos of yesteryears.

Pop past the Cigar Bar (named for its original use) and grab a fresh pressed focaccia and be sure to visit athen old style deli (established in 1982) for an array of cheeses and meats.

If you’re running short on time and want to hit all the best places, check out SF Food Tours, who run fun culinary food tours in San Francisco. For only $59 the tours runs for over three hours and includes samples from all the spots you stop off at. You’ll get your money’s worth in samples, as well as a great history lesson about the area.

Everything about the North Beach food scene screams ‘EAT’, so have a light breakfast if you’re planning on taking it all in within one day. Either that or wear your sweat pants and be prepared to bulge after that third or forth slice of original Neapolitan pizza.

Huge Selection of Authentic Restaurants

One of my favorite things about the Bay Area is the rich diversity in culture and food. Flavors come together from all around the world to bring classic dishes with modern twists. And with well established Chinese and Mexican communities in San Francisco, it’s no surprise that the Bay Area has some incredible choices for their respective cuisines.

For my Cali Mex cravings I’m generally pretty content with heading into the Mission to get my super veggie burrito fix, but after eating at Mijita’s I might have to change up my selection a little more often. The food is fresh, delicious and really brought me back to our days cruising around Mexico, drinking beers on the beach and eating amazing street food. Headed by famous chef Traci Des Jardins, Mijita’s mixes classic Mexican streets food with special regional dishes to bring out the best of Mexican cuisine. The margaritas are awesome spot on and work a treat to wash down those cheesy quesadillas.

As well as Mexican, San Francisco also has a number of amazing Chinese restaurants. Sure you can head into China Town to grab some authentic grub, but if you’re looking for some extra special Chinese dining be sure to check out M.Y China, ran by award winning chef and TV host Martin Yan. With his team of master chefs, they serve a delicious modern spin on some authentic Chinese dishes. The atmosphere in the restaurant is energetic, as steaming hot dishes come out of the kitchen and onto the plate, ready to be devoured by eager customers. For those looking for romantic night in San Francisco this is the place!

After Dinner Drinks in San Francisco

If there’s one thing I know about San Francisco, it’s that there’s no shortage of places to get your drink on. Every time I make it to the city I’m amazed at the masses of fancy cocktail lounges, grungy dive bars and everything in between. San Francisco has a unique nightlife scene that changes depending on the area, so do your research and work out what sort of night you’re looking for. If you want to sing 80s power ballads, over cheap drinks and the occasional topless man, then head towards the Castro. If you’re looking for a bit of everything try SoMa or the Mission.

Located on the fifth floor of the beautiful Hotel Zelos, within the vibrant SOMA district, you’ll find a funky little bar called Dirty Habit. If you think the atmosphere is good, you should try the cocktails! With an extensively creative menu, you’ll find everything you need for either a quiet nightcap, or a busy night on the town. Feel like getting everyone in the mood? Split a ‘Break the Bank’, a HUGE bowl full of Larceny bourbon, mint tea, ginger, lemon and prosecco.

If you’re feeling a little more active, and perhaps a little nostalgic, then check out Brewcade on Market St. It’s basically the amalgamation of two massive passions of mine: old school arcade games and craft beer. I mean seriously, whoever created this place is an absolute genius. Hit the bar to grab a nice hoppy IPA, slot some coins into Marvel vs. Capcom, select Ryu and Wolverine… and enjoy!

Thanks to Visit California for giving me the opportunity to check out San Francisco’s delicious culinary scene… and for an extra 5 pounds!

Road Trip Through New South Wales: My Blind Date Story

It’s 8:30am on a Friday morning and I’ve just touched down at Sydney airport. I’ve already been up and about for four hours and I’m exhausted. In a matter of moments I’m about to be picked up in a van by some random dude named Matt, to drive five hours through Central New South Wales to the small country town of Forbes. I don’t know anything about this guy except the fact that he won a sweet competition with Destination NSW to cruise around and visit the best New South Wales tourist attractions on offer. I’ve been invited to join him for the weekend, and in many ways it feels like I’ve been set up on a blind date.



I check myself out in the reflection of the bus shelter once more to make sure I’m looking presentable. Did I pack enough clothes? The right clothes? How’s my breath?

The Mighty camper van pulls up on the side of the road and the door swings open wide. A barefoot, tanned and tattooed guy looks at me behind some shades and says g’day. Matt looks like a guy who has just rolled out of bed, and, considering he’s been living in the back of this awesome van for the last few weeks, he probably has.



I jump in the van, shake his hand, and so the journey begins. We start by navigating the city streets of Sydney as we chat about all things life and travel. By the time we’re on the open road towards the Blue Mountains we’re already sharing similar world views and I can tell we’re going to get along great over the weekend. We talk about vegetarianism, Western consumerism and cheap beer in South East Asia. We’re a compatible match! Lucky really, because quite like a blind date in real life, this could have been a seriously awkward weekend if we didn’t connect.


New South Wales Tourism At It’s Best

On the itinerary this weekend is a trip to the newly established Vanfest music festival in Forbes, where Matt and I will be covering the event and checking out some of the other locations on our NSW road trip. On route to Forbes we’re passing many famous locations along the way: the iconic Blue Mountains, the legendary racing track Mount Panorama in Bathurst and the historic Parkes radio telescope that played a pivotal role in the 1969 moon landing.



Each NSW tourist destination on our trip is a true testament to the beauty of regional Australia. As a world traveler I don’t often get the opportunity to explore my own backyard, so trips like this are the perfect chance to experience all the wonders that Australia can offer both locals and tourists alike. If you’re headed out this way, here’s a list of things to see in NSW.


Things to Do in Forbes

Historically known for being an old mining town, Forbes has struck another little gem with the newly established Vanfest music festival occurring towards the end of the year. First launched in 2014, Vanfest has already grown into a premium event on the music festival calendar with its ability to secure incredible bands like John Butler Trio, Birds of Tokyo and Rudimental after only two years of operation. As the venue organizers continue to roll in world class acts and make improvements to the festival, Vanfest is steadily shaping up as one event you do not want to miss in the future!



Vanfest is a festival just begging to be included on a road trip through Central West NSW, as you can camp at the venue and really take in the whole community atmosphere of shared camping, portable showers and limited electricity. Pitch a tent in the dusty plains, leave the white shirts at home and get ready for a wild couple of days!



Thankfully we were blessed with perfect festival weather over the weekend, which is typical for December in Australia. The sun was shining, the cold beers were flowing and the music was pumping. And unlike many big festivals that spread out acts over multiple stages, Vanfest rocks one main stage so you never have to choose between who you want to see. The set up is in a primo spot for a festival with wide open spaces inside the main gates and plenty of camping areas outside.



Things to Do in Parkes

Elvis fans and space nerds unite! For a small country town, Parkes sure knows how to cram in a lot of unique things to see. The town of Parkes was made famous after the construction of the Parkes Observatory, most commonly known as The Dish, and the role it played in televising live pictures from the 1969 Apollo 11 landing on the moon. The reputation of this giant satellite dish was further popularized by the classic Australian movie The Dish, which highlights the story of the moon landing and the role the dish played. It’s a colossal sight and the pictures do it no justice until you’re actually standing beside it and witnessing just how impressive this piece of machinery is.



If you’re more of a party goer, with a soft spot for The King, then be sure to get to Parkes in the second week of January for the annual Parkes Elvis Festival. Started back in 1993, this festival has evolved into a five day event that attracts more than 20,000 visitor from all around the world. There are Elvis lookalike and sound-alike competitions, as well as tribute bands and an opportunity to renew your vows. Crack out the flare jumpsuit, whip that hair into shape and sharpen up those vocals for some hip thrusting, leg wobbling fun.



Things to Do in Bathurst

No trip through Central New South Wales is complete without a quick lap around the famous Mount Panorama in Bathurst. This racing track is known around the world for its exhilarating circuit of twists, turns and death defying corners. It’s a place where legends are born and history is made within Australia racing. When the track isn’t in use for races it’s open to the public for a leisurely cruise, but be careful about pushing your pedal to the metal, police patrol the area watching for any racing car wannabes.



Driving in NSW

Aside from visiting many other top destinations in NSW, such as Orange and the Blue Mountains, the drive through NSW is an experience in itself. Regional New South Wales has some seriously picturesque landscapes, which range from flat, dry plains to lush rigid mountain ranges. Panoramic views of the countryside are everywhere you look, so be sure to stop ever now and then to take in the sights. The easiest way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to rent a car in Sydney for a few days, which will give you the luxury of stopping whenever you feel like it.


For more recommendations about tourism attractions in New South Wales check out Destination NSW for all the information you’ll need to start your Aussie road trip today.


This trip was made possible by the following sponsors.

Why We Choose Not to Swim with Whale Sharks in Cebu

I look up from the boat and realize we’re a lot closer to shore than I thought. The gentle rhythm of the boat, combined with an early morning start, must have put me in a sleepy slumber. Christine gives me a gentle nudge and points in the direction of the eager onlookers. All the passengers on board have begun to gather around the left side of the boat, gazing at the masses of wooden paddleboats that are beginning to assemble in the water. We all begin to search the waters, hoping to get our first glimpse of the famous Oslob whale sharks. Most of the passengers on our boat are here to swim with the whale sharks, and in a short moment they too will join the hordes of tourists being shuttled in and out of the waters of Oslob. Unfortunately we will not be part of that group.

Don’t get us wrong, we’d love to be able to experience these majestic animals in their up close and natural habitat. In fact, when we first started planning our Philippines trip swimming with whale sharks was high on our bucket list. And that was a really tough list to make. Coming into this trip we were super excited about planning our list of things to do in the Philippines. We scoured the Internet, pulling apart every Lonely Planet forum and making our way through the masses of blog articles compiled by eager travelers and locals alike. From the thousands of options out there we barely managed to narrow it down into a list of ten. Of those ten choices one that really stood out was the incredible opportunity to swim with whale sharks in Oslob, Cebu.



Years ago Christine was fortunate enough to come across a couple of whale sharks while diving in Honduras, which can be rare, and we’d heard it was pretty easy to replicate those experiences in Cebu. Pictures on the Internet did nothing but fuel our wanderlust. At the time however, little did we know about the potential affects that this could have on the famous whale sharks in Cebu. Like many animal tourist activities, there are always a number of factors to consider regarding animal welfare, sustainability and overall community impact. Having a swim with the whale sharks might sound like a fun idea, but it quickly turns from interesting attraction to animal exploitation if tourist interaction is impacting the species and it’s habitat.


Scene From the Whale Shark Tours in Cebu

When we were taking the boat from Bohol to Cebu we happened to dock at Oslob, so we were able to witness first hand the scene at the beach. Picture an area no bigger than a football pitch, about 50 odd meters from the beach and full to the brim with boats and people snorkelling around. From the surface we couldn’t get a full gauge on what was going on, but do a simple search and amongst the amazing whale shark selfies you’ll see pictures of people touching and holding onto the animals. It’s crowded and you don’t seem to get long in the pit. Tour guides roll you in and out at a rate to keep up with the continual flow of boats arriving, while feeding the animals to keep them attracted. Even seeing this was enough to make us feel confident we made the right decision, with the tour looking more like a zoo than an authentic nature exhibition.



But we didn’t want to make a snap judgement based on our personal experience alone. We’re far from experts in marine biology so we decided to chat with actual marine biologists who could give us the scoop on whether this activity is detrimental to the animals. Here’s what we learned.

Want to find other ethical whale shark experiences while traveling? Check out our full guide to Swimming with Whale Sharks Around the World

The Impact on the Whale Sharks

Many international marine conservation organizations have spoken about the negative affects of the whale shark tours in Oslob. Reef-World, a UK based conservation group focussed in Southeast Asia, and their United Nations Environment Programme initiative Green Fins, have “come out against the tourism activities in Oslob, noting that the practice of feeding wildlife is unsustainable”. There are also many local initiatives in the Philippines that are working on monitoring and researching the whale sharks visiting Oslob. The Large Marine Vertebraes Project Philippines (LAMAVE) in particular is leading the way in research surrounding whale sharks in the Philippines. They also have the difficult task of juggling marine conservation, local community development, education initiatives and Philippine bureaucracy.

The official conservation status for whale sharks is ‘vulnerable and declining’, so now really isn’t the time to take a gamble on how much of an impact this tourist activity is having. A study conducted by marine biologists observing Oslob whale sharks supports this sentiment by stating, “poor and unregulated whale shark tourism can lead to short and potentially long-term impacts, like behavioral change and displacement from critical habitats” (Source). Some of these behavioral and habitat changes include:


Decrease in Nutritional Value

The main reason the whale sharks visit Oslob everyday, and keep returning, is because they’re getting fed. Everyday fishermen attract the sharks to the site by feeding them one type of krill (uyap) that they purchase in bulk. Because of this the whale sharks are now spending up to 6 hours feeing in Oslob, losing out on some of the key nutrients that they gain from foraging naturally. With over a hundred different types of nutrients on offer the whale sharks are only getting a handful because of the lack of quality in their feed. Think of it like a human eating the same thing all day, everyday. One of the concerns is the affect this may have down the line with growth and reproduction.

Migration Patterns of Whale Sharks

Whale sharks are highly mobile animals, so by enticing the whale sharks to stay in one spot it is interfering with their natural movements and migration pattern (Source). One whale shark in particular has been known to stick around for over a year in Oslob. It’s still too early to tell the lasting affects of this, but marine biologists predict it could alter their breeding habits and ultimately their reproduction. Considering they’re a vulnerable species any risks with reproduction should be taken very seriously.



No Touching the Whale Sharks!

Although there are strict rules and regulations prohibiting interaction with the whale sharks, with several hundreds visits a day it’s inevitable that there’ll be some daily contact. Whale sharks bump into the boats and have evidence of cuts and scarring. Researchers have also reported that whale sharks now associate other non-tourist related boats with feeding, causing them to get injured when they come too close to motors and oars.

Along with that there is also the growing concern of increased tourist contact. As the popularity of the tours increases, so does the lack of compliance with local regulations and guidelines. For example, the 2 meter minimum distance of tourist to whale shark is very rarely enforced, with up to 97% of cases breaking the rule in 2014 according to a thorough research study (Source). This non-compliant regulation comes down to a lack of respect for the guidelines from not only the growing pressure on the tourism industry, but also the tourists joining the tours searching for that ‘ultimate selfie’.



What To Do Now?

As responsible tourism advocates we hope to inform and present a different side of the picture. By writing this article we’d love to see more tourists became aware of all the facts, so they can make an informed decision on their travel plans.

What we’re definitely not doing is asking everyone to suddenly stop visiting overnight. The affect this would have for the whale shark population dependent on the food, as well as the local population dependent on the income, would be disastrous. Rather, we’d like to hear more people talking about this and putting pressure on the tour agencies and local authorities to start regulating the industry more closely. Which should lead towards developing a strategy to ensure the safety and health of the whale sharks going into the future, as well as the education to tourists and locals alike. It won’t happen overnight, but as conscious travellers we can start to make changes slowly. Eventually, just like pressure on elephant riding tours and tiger temples in Thailand, there will be enough voice to support the issue.


Source: Lonely Planet

Responsible Tourism in the Philippines

So if you shouldn’t swim with the whale sharks, what should you do? Luckily there’s no shortage of amazing responsible tourism opportunities to view marine life in the Philippines: like being able to swim with turtles on Apo Island only a couple of hours south of Oslob. And unlike the negative affects of the whale shark tours in Cebu, this activity actually supports marine conservation and provides alternative income for the old turtle fishermen who now work as guides. This is an observational activity, with strictly no feeding or touching, but was by far one of our best travel experiences from our six months volunteering and traveling around the Philippines.



And if you really had your heart set on seeing the whale sharks then there are always opportunities with reputable dive companies that see them in their natural habitat, without feeding. Other locations off the coast of Dumaguete, Donsol and Pintuyan are known for whale sharks in the right season. Pintuyan in particular, in Southern Leyte, is known for its responsible interaction with wild whale sharks. Our best suggestion is to do your research, which really depends on the time of year you visit the Philippines. After that get in contact with dive shops for further information and they’ll help you out.

So to everyone thinking about the tours, although you’re free to make up your own mind, we would strongly urge you to consider all factors before booking your tour. And if you were originally planning on doing this (remember we were also), it’s not that you’re terrible and want to destroy the whale sharks, it’s just often hard to really know all sides. Hopefully now you do.


Want to Learn More?

SunGod Sunglasses Review: For Adventure Travel

SunGod Sunglasses Review

Very rarely will you find a pair of reliable action sunglasses that you can really trust while traveling the world or taking on crazy adventure sports. Sure, those fancy sunglasses might look great in all the selfies you’re taking, but give them a little wear and tear and before you know it you’ve got popped lenses and cracked frames. Believe us, we know. We’ve been down that road too many times, often opting for the same cheap Ray Ban knock offs that you find littered around the world. Honestly if we weighed up how much we’ve spent on cheap sunglasses over the last 5 years of travel we really should have just invested in a decent pair to begin with.

Not only are cheap sunglasses terrible value, but there’s also some scary stories about fake sunglasses UV protection, or lack of, and the damages it can do to your eyes. Many of the street vendors flogging knockoff sunglasses will try to tell you the lenses are UV or ‘polarized’, but really they just use a clever shade to disguise tinted plastic or glass. Tinted lenses tell our eyes it’s dark and open up your retinas, letting in UV rans that aren’t protected from the lenses, which ends up giving you sun damage.

So with UV protection, durability and longevity in mind we set out to find some quality travel sunglasses that weren’t going to pack it in at the first sign of adventure. Thankfully we found those very sunglasses in SunGod, the best action sunglasses for travel. They’re tough, stylish and have a warranty that you won’t beat!



Fully Customizable Sunglasses For Your Style

Ok before we talk about SunGod’s amazing durability let’s look at all of the awesome designs that you can build with SugGod customizable sunglasses. To begin with there are a couple of choices for design. You can go the Classic blues brother type design, or look sleek with an aviator style called the Maverick.

Each design of sunglasses also has three customizable parts. For the Classics you can choose the lenses, the arms and the front frame. For the Mavericks choose between lenses, frame and tips. Match those choices with a dozen odd options for colors and lens tints and you start to discover a lot of awesome combinations to build. Their website has a really sweet sunglass builder feature that lets you make changes on the spot and see what your new shades are going to look like.

When picking out a couple of pairs recently the hardest part was choosing what combination to go for. I kept changing my mind and swapping up my styles, switching between the different colors and lens tints, attempting to find my perfect match. Eventually I settled on some classy, yet adventurous shades that haven’t left my side.



Best Unbreakable Sunglasses for Travel

We’ve talked style, but now let’s have a look at the real talking point of SunGod adventure sunglasses. If you’re looking for some strong sunglasses then SunGod have what it takes for all kinds of adventure activities. From skiing and snowboarding, to rock climbing and white water rafting… or maybe just relaxing on a beautiful island!

Flexible frame material makes the sunglasses super tough, but also light and comfortable to wear. After wearing them all day you’ll barely notice them on your face anymore: they’re that comfortable! Durable frames also mean you can bend and twist them without snapping the arms, so you’ll be safe if you happen to take a fall next time your shredding the slopes. All lenses are impact resistance, with triple-layer scratch resistant coating, as well as offering top shelf 100% UVA and UVB. There’s also an optional polarized option for those seeking enhanced optical clarity and glare reduction.

As well as traditional sunglass, SunGod have also recently released new sunglass goggles for snowboarding and skiing, which are wicked. We haven’t had the chance to road test them (not too much snow in Southeast Asia), but are keen to grab a hold of pair for some slopes in Tahoe over the winter.



Amazing Warranty Service

So, think it doesn’t get any better than customizable unbreakable sunnies? Let’s talk lifetime warranty. SunGod are so confident in their durability and design that they’re offering a lifetime warranty of all SunGod Classic sunglasses that cover manufacturer defects and accidental breakage (one year for the Mavericks).

Now obviously if your new puppy gets a hold of them, or you happen to drop them in the path of a steamroller, that’s a different story: but generally speaking, if your frames break, SunGod will replace your sunglasses free of charge. Anywhere in the world! Not only will you travel in style, but also with the confidence of some seriously strong sunglasses backed up by an even stronger warranty policy that supports your adventurous lifestyle.



Final Review

If you’re on the hunt for some quality sunglasses for sports or travel then you can’t go past SunGod. We’ve been absolutely loving our shades and have given them some solid testing while trekking through the countryside of northern Thailand, white water rafting and zooming through the hectic streets of Bangkok. I’ve even accidentally sat down with them in my back pocket. Thankfully I haven’t had to put that warranty to the test. They’re so good, they’re even elephant proof!



SunGod ships globally using Royal Mail and have a tracking code for you to watch your order. They’re dispatched on the same day as you order and will make it to you within a week. Which means, what are you waiting for? For more info on SunGod sunglasses, their designs and their incredible warranty you can check out their website.


Rebuilding Tacloban After Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)


Tales From Tacloban After Typhoon Haiyan

Glasses clink as we raise our warm beers to the jubilation that fills the air. Everybody is full of smiles and laughter, and not even the stifling heat can interrupt this joyous moment. I reach for the bottle of Red Horse and give everyone around me a small top up, tilting the glasses slightly to avoid the classic Filipino beer pour, which usually leaves you with more froth than beer. I glance at the other beers around the table with their foamy consistently, looking more like fruit smoothies, and have a small chuckle. Sitting at the end of the table is a giant metal cooking pot full of pancit bihon, one of our favorite Filipino dishes. Stray glass noodles and chunks of chopped up cabbage and carrot are sprawled across the table around the pot. An old wooden serving spoon lies across the top of the pot; it’s a serve yourself type of event.

At the centre of the table is Danny, one of the community leaders of the Calvary Hills barangay and the President of the Calvary Hills Basic Ecclesial Community group (BEC). He has a smile on his face that rarely disappears, and nods his head in approval of the conversations happening around him. The familiar sound of ‘o-o, o-o’, Filipino for yes, bounces around the mixed chatter of Tagalog, English and the local dialogue Waray Waray. A small towel lies across the back of his neck, and he periodically reaches for it to dab at the beads of sweat that build up on his brow. As I look around the table I see most people nonchalantly doing the same, as if it was a common instinctual habit. I guess when you live in the Philippines the heat just becomes second nature.



From the crackling speakers the distinct music of the kuratsa, a traditional Filipino dance, reverberates throughout the crowd. A middle-aged woman sits in a plastic chair while a man playfully dances around her; twisting and turning his arms as he generously throws twenty peso notes into the air. When the song finally finishes kids scramble around the floor to collect the notes into an old straw bowl, before handing them to the barangay officials to count. Everyone cheers as the next person takes a seat and the dance repeats.


Livelihood Development Work in Tacloban

Tonight marks the celebration of the local Calvary Hills barangay fiesta, which Christine and I been invited to attend as special guests. Over the last 5 months we’ve been working with this community, specifically the BEC, to help develop a new livelihood program for the typhoon Yolanda survivors working to rebuild their life. Tonight is also an extra celebration because it signifies the opening of a new candle making business for the BEC and the beginning of a new livelihood opportunity for some of its most marginalized members. It has been a long process getting to where they are now and tonight is about celebrating how far they’ve come. For the people of Tacloban their struggles began long before we arrived, but for this moment all of that is forgotten while people smile, laugh, drink and dance kuratsa.

Before arriving in Tacloban in April 2015, eighteen months after super typhoon Yolanda, we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know what we were getting into, but we knew we need to help. When the typhoon first made landfall back on that fateful November day in 2013 all we could do was watch in shock from the public television sets in Cuba. At the time our hearts went out to the Filipino people, but there was little we could do at that stage. We were just finishing up a two year trip through Latin America working with various non-profits along the way. We talked about heading to the Philippines, but we couldn’t afford it at the time, so we could only watch on and vow that we’d get there sometime in the future to help.



Thankfully that opportunity came late 2014 when we received an opportunity to travel to Tacloban and join in with the long-term livelihood development programs that were still desperately needed. So, after a couple of months of traveling in Southeast Asia, we finally touched down on the small DZR airstrip of Tacloban with open hearts and minds, ready to help wherever we were needed.


Tacloban Two Years After the Typhoon

Initially, from the main road, it was hard to see the trail of damage that typhoon Yolanda had left behind. If you hop aboard a Jeepney downtown, passing the Astrodome and the businesses sprawled along Real Street, it’s hard to see how Tacloban City differs from any other city in the Philippines. Shell gas stations, Jolibee, Mercury Pharmacy, among others, go about their daily business. In true Filipino style people are happy and hospitable. Life goes on as usual, but look a little deeper and you’ll see that the memories of Yolanda are fresh, as a constant reminder to embrace life. Stickers on pedi-cabs, tricycles and shop fronts display ‘Tindog Tacloban’, which signifies the resilience and strength of the people to rise up again from the destruction.



After a couple of weeks in Tacloban we started to see more traces of typhoon Yolanda. We widened our peripherals and saw that beyond the façade of normal life there were still many people in need of assistance. On our motorcycle ride to work everyday we passed a large community of resettled families on the Maharlika Hwy on route to the famous San Juanico Bridge, just before Citi Hardware. From the back of a motorbike, zooming past thinking about work emails and the latest sports results, it’d be easy to miss. But take a walk to the daily fish and vegetable market that is set up on the corner and you’ll start to see how people have been living for the last two years: in temporary shelters made from scraps of materials and no bigger than the average sized lounge room of a house. Despite their long enduring living arrangements they are friendly and welcoming. We’d regularly visit to purchase fruit and vegetables, chatting with the fisherman about their daily catch or asking the ladies when the price of potatoes was finally going to go down again.

These people haven’t been forgotten, but there is just still so much to be done that it’s sometimes hard to figure out where to start. The city government has plans to relocate them up to a new settlement area in Tacloban North, but even that plan isn’t without its challenges. For our time in Tacloban, to avoid the overwhelming and unachievable task of trying to help everyone, we picked a few projects and concentrated our efforts into making sure they were successful. The candle making project in Calvary Hills was one of these success stories, thanks to the assistance of the Calvary Hills community and a Jesuit organization from Manila named Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan (SLB).



Our Work With the Community

When we first visited the Calvary Hills BEC they were already working with the SLB and we were fortunate enough to be involved in the next stage of their development projects for the community. The SLB had already successfully helped Calvary Hills set up a small community eatery, where members worked in rotational shifts to share the income opportunities. It was a successful operation, but small and in need of expansion. This is how the community developed the candle making project.

The candle making, like many community projects post-Yolanda, wasn’t just about finding a business idea and making it happen: it was a complete process of empowerment, engagement and participation. As community development workers our ultimate goal is to become obsolete, so the community can be fully self-sufficient without external assistance. With this is mind we worked alongside the community as equals, helping them strengthen and grow. Along with organizing technical candle making training we were also involved in various capacity building training workshops for the community, such as business management, branding and marketing, financial literacy, as well as conducting market research, community surveying and data collation. After many month of planning and work the pinnacle of this project occurred just before we left Tacloban in late September, when the team conducted their first official day of production. It was a special day for us to be involved in, and one that we’ll forever cherish and remember. It was a rewarding feeling to finally see a positive aspect emerge from the constant reminders of that tragic November day.



Remembering Typhoon Yolanda

The longer you spend in Tacloban the more you come across subtle reminders of typhoon Yolanda, but over time the sentiment has shifted from helpless victims to strong survivors. Filipinos are proud of their strength and the way they have been able to bounce back form this tragedy. References to Yolanda are reminders for them on a daily basis of this strength, and they wear this tragedy and their response like a badge of honor. Originally we were hesitant to mention Yolanda in conversation, worried that it would invoke raw feelings of loss, but that quickly changed when we witnessed how open people were about it.

People would often recount stories and even joke about some of the funnier things that happened in the events after the typhoon. It’s humor like this that we were surprised to see and hear while in Tacloban. As a close friend of mine said one day when I asked about it, “if we don’t laugh about it somehow, then we will cry”. Stories like this gave us a small insight into what life was like post-Yolanda, and although we would never be able to fully comprehend the full extent, it did help give our work context and feeling. It was emotional and at times difficult, but it was real.


Video of Tacloban Two Years Later


It was this realness that has forever connected us to Tacloban and the people we worked and lived with. We share an unbreakable bond that transcends time, distance and language. Even now, as I sit in a small coffee shop in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I wonder how our special group of ladies from the candle making team are going. Not just their business, but how they are on a personal level. Are they well? Are they happy? Could I still do more to help? It’s tough being apart from them because I always feel like I could be doing more, but I have confidence in their ability. And I know one day I’ll get the chance to visit them again to witness their success.

For now I hold onto my memories tight, cherishing every tiny detail that made them so unique: like the night of the barangay fiesta. The unshakeable memories are still fresh in my mind. The laughter of the children as I chase them around the streets, picking them up and spinning them around until we we’re both too dizzy to walk. The gentle embrace from our ladies as they thanked us and presented us with personalized hand drawn portraits. The sweet creamy texture of mango float.



Nights like this where we danced, and laughed and drank the night away. Where there, in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Tacloban, you wouldn’t immediately notice the tragic aftermath of the super typhoon. Where the happiness and joy for living drowns out, at least for the night, the lingering sadness. Where the youth show their resilience through creativity in the form of impressive dance performances, and their parents and grandparents watch proudly, and appreciative of life in a way that we could never imagine.


Christine and I want to give thanks to everyone that helped support us during our time in Tacloban. And to the people of Tacloban, never stop fighting. Keep that passion strong and we’ll be back! Salamat po!

11 Unique Things Filipinos Say to Foreigners

Filipino culture is unique, both in the Philippines and around the world. Famous for their incredible hospitality and polite manners, Filipino’s also have some pretty interesting and uncommon things that they say!

Being a foreigner in the Philippines doesn’t have to be hard, as long as you learn these unique Filipino sayings before you go!

After spending more than seven months in the Philippines, including six months volunteering with Yolanda disaster relief in Tacloban, we got a pretty good understanding of the local culture. Here are of favorite things that Filipinos say to foreigners!


Nosebleed in Tagalog / Nose Bleed

The expression ‘nose bleed’ would have to be one of the most interesting, and unique, things that Filipino’s say. The term refers to the idea that if you think too hard, your nose will start to bleed. Filipino’s usually say this in English, nose bleed in Tagalog translates to balinguyngoy.  The saying is generally used in reference to Filipino’s trying to speak English.

When a Filipino tries to communicate in English, but gets stuck on a word and freezes, people around them will say ‘nosebleed’ and all start to laugh. It’s a lighthearted saying that isn’t used to be mean, but often leaves the person feeling a little embarrassed.



The best way to explain this is through the following anecdote. One time we were at a bus station and a group of curious, young Filipinos slowly started to crowd around us. One confident teen approached us with a few English phrases and started a conversation. When we continued the conversation and asked him a question he suddenly froze, looked at his mates and then ran away as all the others laughed at him and shouted ‘nose bleed, nose bleed’.


Hey My Friend!

In the Philippines, everyone is your friend, so you better get used to hearing this. Filipinos say this all the time, regardless of whether they know you or not. In simple terms, when a Filipino says ‘hey my friend, it is a friendly way of greeting a foreigner and saying hello.

If you get the chance, while they’re zooming past you in a tricycle or shouting at you from afar, yell back the same thing and watch their smile stretch from ear to ear. Filipino’s love to hear foreigners use the same expression as them, so start to greet people you meet with a simple ‘hey my friend’ and watch their response.



Filipino Hospitality – Sir / Ma’am

Before traveling to the Philippines we’d heard Filipinos were famous for their politeness and hospitality, but we could never have imagined just how nice everyone was, all the time! Any time you meet or greet someone you can expect a sir or ma’am added onto the end, without fail.

This level of politeness is nation wide, no matter who you’re speaking with or who they’re speaking to. Whether you’re speaking to the municipal government about getting your visa renewed, having your gas pumped at a station or down the local fish market, everyone will greet you with that formality.

After seven months around the Philippines I think we’re now officially the politest backpackers going round Southeast Asia!



Hey Joe!

If you’re a white male, get prepared to hear this a lot. Taken from the old World War II nickname for US soldiers (G.I Joe), this now accounts to pretty much any male who looks white and foreign.

It’s not offensive, so don’t be shocked when strangers on the street pass you by and say ‘hey Joe! That being said, it is a little annoying hearing it all the time, especially when you’re living in a town for six months and the locals see you everyday. It’s not like they’re trying to be rude, but when they say ‘hey Joe’, they’re basically calling you out as a white, male from the United States.

It’s a generalization that starts to wear you down eventually! Sometimes to confuse them I just yell back… hey Pinoy! Pinoy is a generalized term for anyone from the Philippines. It holds no negative connotation, but I liked to use it just to mess with the locals.

Come and follow us on Instagram!


What do Foreigners Think of the Philippines?

Filipinos are super proud people and always love to hear what foreigners think of the Philippines. They’re also fairly receptive to constructive feedback, as long as it’s not too mean. They know their traffic in Manila is terrible and they know vegetarian options are slim, but they also want to know how amazing their island are and how they’re literally the most friendly culture ever!

During all of our Philippines travels, as well as while to Filipinos around the world, locals are always curious to know what foreigners think of the Philippines. While we can’t speak on behalf of everyone, we can say that the majority of travelers we meet absolutely love the Philippines! Along with the gorgeous beaches (try Kalanggaman Island or Sambawam Island) and lovely people, the Philippines offers a rugged and less traveled countryside to explore.

Foreigners love exploring the Philippines, not only for the landscapes, but also to connect with the amazing people. Everywhere you go in the Philippines you’ll meet people welcoming you into their homes and their lives, curious to know more about you and to share a piece of their beautiful country with you.



What is Yours?

The first few times we heard this we were super confused. The term ‘what is yours’ literally means, what would you like? It doesn’t really have a translation or meaning, it’s just the way Filipinos ask you what you want. Expect to hear this phrase when you visit a small street store (called a sari-sari store), market stall or sometimes other places where you need to order.

It doesn’t happen all the time, but the first time it did I had no idea what to reply. I just repeated it back to the lady and received some very confused looks as she ushered for her younger English speaking daughter in the back room to come and deal with me.


What is Your Name? Where Are You From?

Most Filipinos speak amazing English, but even if they don’t have the confidence or ability to muster up a conversation, you can be sure they’ll find enough courage to ask you these two questions.

Whether we were traveling through a busy city, or a quiet rural town, many locals were excited to start a conversation with us based off these two questions. They often restricted to these two questions, and got a ‘nose bleed’ when asked return question, but it’s a great way to engage the locals and start up a conversation.



Out of Stock

Either Filipinos aren’t restocking their stores very well, or they’re being polite because they don’t understand me, but if you go into any sari-sari, restaurant, grocery, etc. chances are 1 in 5 items will be… out of stock sir.

They’ll always maintain a very polite manner while informing you, but it can be pretty frustrating, especially if you can see the item you’re looking for.


What Else?

This is a funny one! ‘What else’ is kind of like that scene from Dude Where’s My Car with the Chinese take-out store: and then? And theeeeeeeen? Once you’ve finished ordering something Filipinos like to ask you if you want anything else, multiple times.

‘What else’ pops up more frequently in markets and smaller stores when ordering. Sometimes I end up ordering way too much because I like to see how far they’ll go… they always win!



Welcome to My Country

Whether you’ve been in the Philippines for a week, or a year, Filipinos love to greet you and welcome you to their country. Anytime you’re talking to a Filipino they could surprise you by throwing in a ‘welcome to my country’. It’s extremely welcoming and just another example of their hospitality.

You’d be surprised how many times a stranger stopped us in the street or chatted with us in a Jeepney just to welcome us to the Philippines!


Thank You

When Christine and I came to the Philippines to help with the Yolanda recovery in Tacloban we definitely didn’t come for the praise or the thanks. However, the amount of people who have thanked us for helping their country has truly humbled us. This doesn’t just happen inside the Philippines, this has also happened multiple times when we’ve met Filipinos outside of the Philippines.

Everybody is always curious to know why we spent six months in the Philippines, and when we tell them our story they almost always say a massive heart felt ‘thank you’ for our help.

It’s a great moment that we can share with Filipinos around the world, but now we want to use this opportunity to thank everyone in the Philippines who has made this such an incredible journey and a life changing experience. From the bottom of our heart salamat po!


Exit mobile version