The best thing you can do for you and your family is get away together and have an adventure or two or seven ...
Having a hard work ethic is good for your employer; however, it's not always good for you. Although it is very good to have a hard work ethic, you should definitely find time to get away from daily life and enjoy not being on a schedule. My husband and I are workaholics and recently took a break from the daily grind to vacation with our teenage son in the Philippine Islands. At the request of my Mom who turned 75 years old this past spring, my family and the family of my brother met her and her sisters for a belated birthday celebration in her homeland. Because there is so much to share about this trip, this is the first post of a blog series of which I hope you will enjoy. I'll share not only our experience and photos, but also some tips as well.
“Disconnect. Get away. Sip Champagne. Forget the rest.”
A lot of planning goes into an overseas trip halfway around the world, so I'll keep the planning and tips to a separate blog post. We did wonder how our teenage son would do being disconnected for much of our trip, because my husband and I decided not to change our SIM cards in our cell phones or purchase an international hot spot. I personally have a lot of social media accounts, so this decision was best for us to disconnect and enjoy being in a different country. I am happy to report that everyone enjoyed experiencing new things without having to post and share every minute of the day. Disconnecting was really good for our family.
Getting to Our Destination
So where do I start on this adventure? For now, let's just dive into the actual trip itself. Traveling to our starting point, El Nido on the Philippine Island of Palawan was the first adventure---a long 25-hour (travel-time accounted only) trek. That's a 14-hour flight from Washington DC to Beijing, 4-hour flight from Beijing to Manila,1-hour 20 minute flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa Palawan, 1.5-hour drive from Puerto Princesa Airport to a quick stop to drop off our luggage at the resort Astoria Palawan, and a 4-hour drive to El Nido and checking into the El Nido Moringa Resort to START our vacation. Note that none of this travel time includes getting to the airport early, having layovers, or waiting for our driver. It's OK. We made it safely, and we're on vacation.
I have to say, that if you are able to do so, when taking such a long flight fly business or first class. You will be more comfortable, served your meals and snacks, and may also receive a few complimentary items such as slippers, travel case, and greeted with drinks (I chose champagne) with hot towels (wash cloth size) periodically during your long flight. Also if you flight business or first class, if you have a layover, there are usually special airport lounges for these types of travelers. At the lounges one may enjoy comfortable seating with complimentary food and drink, clean restrooms, sometimes showers, and sometime a business center with printers, free WiFi, or even televisions and video games. If you can arrange for a driver ahead of time where you are visiting, that's a plus as well. There's no trying to hail a taxi or Uber/Grab services, and your driver may be able to arrange some local rates on your behalf for some of the tourist attractions or accommodations, if you haven't previously secured them.
So once we actually landed in Puerto Princesa on the island of Palawan, the landscape was beautiful and surprisingly a lot of Palawan was not developed. It was warm and sunny; however, surprisingly the weather was very tolerable. Perhaps we were lucky with the temperatures. Perhaps we were used to Virginia's heat and humidity. Perhaps it's because there were breezes on the island of Palawan which kept the summer temperatures tolerable.
At any rate, we made it to Palawan earlier than expected. Originally we had planned to arrive around lunch (just before noon), have lunch in Puerto Princesa, and then take the 4-hour drive to El Nido to start our adventure. When we arrived to Manila, went through customs, changed terminals and airlines to check in for our flight to the island of Palawan, we were advised that business class seats were available on an earlier flight, and would we be interested in switching at no additional cost. Sure, why not? That would beat spending hours at the Manila airport for our previously booked flight. Being flexible to do make this change in our itinerary gave us the opportunity to seeing if the resort of which we were booked could accommodate us a day earlier. The staff of Astoria Palawan Resort were very accommodating, and this gave us the opportunity to leave all of our luggage in our room, and repack a couple of small bags just bringing what we needed for our overnight stay and day excursions in El Nido. We also had the opportunity to shower after a day of travel, have a snack, and take a short nap before our driver arrived to the resort to pick us up for our transport to El Nido.