How do you visit everywhere you wanted to go in such a short amount of time! - The key is to be flexible on your dates as well as your destinations! I always face the struggle of going somewhere new vs returning to an old favorite. Before this trip I'd been to 28 countries and all were more than enjoyable. From the baths of Istanbul, to the depths of Patagonia, each experience is appreciated equally as I learn tons about myself and get a fresh perspective to my life, businesses and am able to attack my challenges from a different angle. I get so many ideas when I travel and am able to feed off of the momentum. This trip was definitely a fresh breath! The people we met everywhere were so thankful for the life they lived as well as thankful to be where they were, and though they all don't have the same access to resources and opportunities we do, the people we met and interacted with were all happy, friendly, and welcoming. It all started with a flight search for some inspiration (as it usually does) I was watching my friends dog as I worked on a few projects at home that regularly go into 2 am with hours in front of the screen.
Heres a picture of Leo, see you would dog sit too. Anyways, I was working as usual on my laptop and hanging with that guy and I felt inspired to check my favorite website www.theflightdeal.com only to find an amazing deal at $340 from LAX to Manila, Philippines, and Singapore back to LAX. Two awesome destinations I always wanted to visit! I was inspired because before I got to Leo's, I got some amazing mail with my renewed passport! My old one was beautifully filled with stamps but had unfortunately expired, so this new one came right in time and- ready for first blood. Again, the key to getting to many places is being flexible on your top destinations and also your time - then assessing which opportunities make sense & when is best to go with your busy schedule and obviously, go from there. Side note - please contact me if you'd like help either booking travel / designing a trip or freeing up some of your time while building your personal brand, end pitch.
I sent the deal to a few friends and after waiting about an hour or two to hear back, the price had gone up! I had to act fast so I made my move at $370 as I checked around for various one way flights that were in my budget to complete a dream itinerary.
I ended up booking 5 other flights to get everywhere I wanted to go during this trip, and this was my route. RT to Palawan, Puerto Princessa for $80 US from Manila. Manila - Hong Kong for $80 US as well. Hong Kong - Thailand for $56 Thailand - Bali for $100- and Singapore for $100 - an EPIC and yes 5 COUNTRY experience for under $800 US! I immediately began scouring my saved travel list and plugged away at bucket list items I could get done in this trip as I had always wanted to make it to the far east.
My search for a travel buddy ended with my business partner who actually was supposed to go to Australia and his friend cancelled on him last minute, I told him about this trip, sent him the flight information and he booked the next day! It's funny how things work out the way they are supposed to, always. I was prepared to travel solo but it always makes it a bit better to have a friend on board!
Now, I'm 6'5 so sometimes stretching your budget doesn't always mean being able to stretch your legs. In the air I always work and edit photos and again, always try to book or sit in a window seat and look out or occasionally snap a picture if theres any sort of city view from the plane. These flights throughout Asia were all within 3 hours which is doable for 95% of people and you can usually upgrade if there are seats available which all flights were not full. Had I wanted to fly business or first to go to the same amount of places would make the trip 5x more expensive and unobtainable for 99% of Americans. But, taking strategic one ways to get from point A to B, this trip is DEFINITELY a good option, and worth it.
The flight over was operated by All Nippon Airways out of Japan and we flew into Tokyo with a 1 hour layover and then on to Manila from there. The IN AIR ASIAN FOOD is GREAT on these flights. I was never disappointed with meat / rice combos.
On the way, the middle seat was also empty so I worked, and then slept for a few hours of the 14 hour trip to Tokyo NRT. *Photographers traveling through Japan - if you have a tripod that is longer than "20 they will inspect the sh*t out of it! I almost missed my connection but one gentleman was kind enough to talk me through their policy, I filled out a form and he escorted me to the gate and they had to check my tripod from there. I use a Manfrotto 055 Carbon Fiber and and 360 Degree ball head mount that puts it well over the Japanese limit! I only almost had issues with a tripod in Buenos Aires, where a Cop thought that my tripod was a weapon. It was fun going through all my gear with him!
4 hours later we made it to Manila. I could immediately feel the heat difference as the humidity kicked in and Japans northern Asia was experiencing mid winter. We booked a hotel right next to the airport as we had to maximize our time and planned to start by hitting the exotic untouched land of Palawan bright and early. I collected my bag and started walking over to the airport. As soon as I was outside there was a and there was military man guarding the door I struck a conversation as he could tell I was a bit out of place - I told him we were headed to Palawan tomorrow morning, he replied beautiful. We caught up on much needed rest and, got up for the flight and even ended said hello on the way back into the airport the next morning as our friend had been there the entire night happily guarding the door with his trusty assault rifle.
Though we stayed close to the airport and had a flawless plan, there was only one hiccup once we got to the terminal - our NON INTERNATIONAL flight was in a different terminal, 20 minutes away in traffic. We showed our flight information to several airport officials and they kept pointing toward the end of the airport where we found the "shuttle" that only takes one trip per hour. Our flight was now in 30 minutes and there were no scheduled buses to head over to the correct terminal. We booked it outside and hired one of the taxis to take us to the other terminal and even unsuccessfully called Air Asia to have them hold the flight - we made it to the airport and through security with 10 minutes to spare but once we got to the gate they said the plane had already backed off and it was too late to board. Surely we wouldn't have missed the flight to Palawan after coming this far, right?
Check out more of @leomessithedog here. Look out for the rest of my travel blogs on Asia and what to / where to stay once you get to each of these awesome destinations!