However, those surprises aren't always the pleasant type. If you're travelling to the Philippines, you'll have to contend with typhoons, travel taxes and other factors that can sour an otherwise pleasant trip. To keep those factors from tripping you up, here's what you need to know when booking a flight to this 7,000-island country.
Use Multiple Search Engines
It's easy to stick with just one search engine, especially if it's tried-and-tested. However, if you don't add other tools to search for the best booking deals online, you could miss out on things that a more eagle-eyed traveler will take advantage of in a heartbeat. Sure, it'll take more time to decide when you have more options, but when it means getting the best deal possible, why not?
Book As Early As You Can
The moment you finalize your itinerary, book your flight as soon as possible. This is especially important if you're travelling to the Philippines during "peak season," such as the second and last quarters of the year. Otherwise, you'll end up competing with overseas Filipino workers, who'll go back home to their country in droves.
Watch Out for Airline Promos
Another reason to book ASAP is the promos. Since they cut airfares by a significant amount, they tend to have a habit of vanishing before most travelers can get a hold — or even hear! — of them. That's why you need to stay alert for them.
Mark your calendars whenever travel expos are ongoing. Befriend an "insider" who can give you a tip about promos. Install apps like Airlines Promo on your mobile phone. Follow your favorite airlines on social media, so that you can get real-time updates.
Clear Your Web Browser
When you visit a booking website, it automatically stores cookies in your browser. These cookies track your most recent activities, "guess" which destinations you're most likely to pay a higher price for and adjust the on-site prices accordingly. If you want to see what the "real" (read: lower) prices are like, go to your browser of choice, hold down "Ctrl + Shift + Delete" simultaneously and hit "OK."
Check Extra Charges
If the final price feels like it's higher than it should be, you're probably right. It's possible that the charges include extras like in-flight meals, baggage allowance and insurance. Get the price breakdown, determine which services you can do without and uncheck/delete them.
Check Weather Updates
As you know, the Philippines gets hit with at least 20 typhoons annually. Although these weather disturbances are spread out throughout the year, they tend to peak during the "ber" months (September, October, November and December). To prepare for typhoons before they come, head to the weather section of the most popular Philippine news sites in English, or refresh the PAG-ASA website regularly.
Take Note of Holidays
For obvious reasons, people tend to book their travels during the holidays. Before you decide on a travel date, make sure you check the Philippine government's official list of holidays for 2017. That way, you can steer clear of those dates if you don't like flying with a crowd, or book ahead of the crowd if you're fine with a packed plane anyway.
Give Allowance for Delays
Unfortunately, time doesn't always work on-the-dot in the Philippines. Schedules for buses and boats can change at the last minute, and it's not uncommon for events to start at least an hour later than they should. It's better to schedule your flight a day or two later than your planned "last day" in the country, so you can have breathing room when these delays stress you out.
Consider Visiting "Hidden" Tourist Spots
Popular destinations like Boracay and Palawan can get overcrowded, making it difficult to enjoy their delights on your own. If you're feeling adventurous, you can try these off-the-beaten track tourist spots instead. Not only are they — to use the old saying — "untouched by man," but they're also the kinds of places you can post on social media with the caption: "Hey, look what I've found in the #Philippines!"
Split the Bill
You don't have to travel solo all the time. If you can get a friend (who's hopefully more travel-savvy than you are) to come with you, that can make a lot of difference in how enjoyable your trip can be. Just make sure you're both/all on the same page when it comes to itineraries, budgets and other necessary information.
Enjoy Your Trip
It's a cliché, but it's true: Life is what you make it. When you travel with the expectation that you'll meet disaster at every turn, that's exactly what you'll get. But when you're willing to keep an open mind, explore the possibilities and look at the glass half-full, travelling becomes more awesome no matter where you go.