Revisiting Santa Catalina

Santa Catalina sits on a coast southwest of Los Angeles, California. A very laid back cozy town with its surprising quirky vibe of a small European riviera. It is quite a hidden gem in California. It is a popular tender for cruises from all over the world which we have been part of on two occasions. One with Carnival Cruise and the other with Oceania Cruises. The latter is part of the new tradition that me and my husband has started, the Holiday Getaway.

Its coastal breezy feel brings a romantic vibe and even perfect for retirement near the beach. C-shaped coast has a phenomenal appeal looking through the top by Mount Orizaba’s zigzaggy roads that is accessible with ATVs or the most common vehicle in the area, golf carts. Catalina Casino is also a great historic landmark which in itself becomes the town’s cultural center, museum, once a library, and many more.

How to Get Around

As a tourist with less than 24 hours to see this place, there are several options to choose from. From bicycles, ATVs, golf carts, and 4×4 tours. We opted for an hour rental of a 4-person golf carts ($40). You may want to rent it for 2 hours or more if you want to see it all for the first time. The rental shops give you a map with numbered stations from viewpoint to viewpoint making it easy to explore the island.

Dining

We did not go to any of the restaurants but if you wish to try local seafood, there is plenty of dining by the beach while enjoying the view. While driving with golf carts, we noticed that most cruise crews go to a $1 Taco place in the hidden area of the island called, The Soundtrap. Not able to try it since we were timing our little island road trip.

The quaint little coastal town of Santa Catalina is a perfect escape from the daily grind. I can imagine how the retired people enjoy the island and snowbirds enjoy their home as we did. Let us know what you think if you have been to Santa Catalina or after you’ve been. I’d love to hear how you enjoyed it. Did you like Santa Catalina? What is your favorite spot on the island?

5 Southeast Asian Budget Airlines

Being a true believer of budget travel which is why Discount Travel Blogger was born, I wanted to share the 5 Southeast Asian budget airlines on this post.  By the way, I have merged DiscountTravelBlogger.com here with my original blog to minimize the work and effort I have to out in 2 different blogs. It isn’t easy to build a blog from the scratch, maintaining it is another story to make it successful. Enough of that, I didn’t write this article just to talk about the history of my blogs.

I wanted to share the budget airlines I used traveling on an extreme budget while I was backpacking Southeast, but I have to let you know that you things happen. It’s not like I’ve experience the “You get what you pay for!” all the time (even though I fly budget all the time), I always have my positive attitude towards a budget service and so far, I only had one bad experience, not flying but rather the ticketing booth experience where everyone doesn’t want to fall in line! Other than that, it was reasonable because I just wanted to get to Point A to B in the cheapest and fastest way I can.

Here are the 6 Southeast Asian Budget Airlines I’ve flown with.

PHILIPPINES

  • Cebu Pacific Air – I’ve used CebuPac (as we call it in Philippine slang) 90% of the time I travel from the Philippines because of their Php 1 promo deals every now and then, that yo have to keep an eye on like a hawk to get. Yes, no matter how full my schedule was I book it and luckily I never had to cancel any of them!
  • Air Asia Philippines – The 10% of the time I’m traveling from the Philippines, I fly with Air Asia Philippines when they have Php 1 fares too. It is not as often as CebuPac’s one but they have it too.
  • Tiger Airways – It as my first out of the country with my family when I flew with them to my first Singapore visit. They have like a great deal that lasts only for few hours and were not advertised, but looking for the best deal ever for the whole family their deal was the best that time. Although, I don’t know if they still do that anymore.

There are couple other carriers like ZestAir and CebGo that is available but I have not used their service yet, but you can check them out if they have a great deal and see for yourself.

THAILAND

  • Air Asia Thailand – When I lived in Thailand, Air Asia was the main low cost carrier I took to major routes. I love their service the most from all the low cost carrier I used in Southeast Asia. From the courteous flight attendants to their paid in-flight food, great selections and the quality of food for a low cost, that is good.
  • Nok Air – Nok Air is more popular for the inner island routes, they have smaller planes that can accommodate routes to the small airports of Thai islands that are hard to reach. Their service is great too, not that you would need food for a half to an hour long trip but they give you a free snack and a free use of the fast WiFi connection for an hour at the airport lobby that you can only access using your flight details. Not bad, at least they’re trying their best to give a good customer service experience. They also fly in few of the nearby Southeast Asian countries too, I think they’ll open more International routes in the future.

The national carrier, Thai Airways have also their budget airlines called, Smile. New in the market but it’s slowly making it’s way to the low cost game. I have not used it, almost but didn’t just because Nok Air is fierce with their price competition.

INDONESIA

  • Lion Air – I’ve never heard of Lion Air before I went to Bali. I tried to meet an old friend in time, got confused booking the flight. I booked the connecting flight the day before simply because Indonesia have three time zones and Jakarta(Western Time) to Bali (Central Time). That didn’t register when I was booking the ticket and so I had to book the cheapest one by which a local told me about Lion Air. I immediately researched about the rates and routes then head out to the other building where the crazy ticketing booth were. After that chaos, I have to run back to the building I just came from because that is where the terminal is, only to find out they moved the terminal to another one and ran as fast as I can. I’m not blaming the missed flights to them at all by the way, it was me who booked it wrong.
  • Air Asia Indonesia – My most used carrier in Southeast Asia out of the Philippines. During the time I went to Bali, there wasn’t CebuPac direct route from Manila to Bali but they have it now.

MALAYSIA

  • Air Asia – The carrier originated in Malaysia and I think the low cost airport is 95% theirs, packed but it was convenient if you would rather do the Check In Kiosk that are everywhere, tag your bags, and drop it at the baggage carousel. I flew with them in Brunei, Singapore, and Thailand.

I’m sure there are a lot more budget carriers I haven’t included because I haven’t used it or heard of it. Please let me know if you have more to put on the list and wants to share your experience, I will gladly add it on this post (don’t worry about the number, it’s just a number – oh, I’m talking about the number on the title).

How To Become a Professional Interpreter

I have always been fascinated with languages eversince I was little. In our household, there were 5 languages spoken by the surrounding adults. While my father speaks two, my mother speaks three.  We were also surrounded by helpers who speaks different dialects from the country. I sensed the calling for travel, lots and lots of it! Can you? Fascinated with languages? Curiosity why and where those people who speaks different languages are from? Oh well!

Eventually, I grew up learning to speak Tagalog, English, Italian and Kapampangan (dialect). Undertands Spanish, Hebrew, Thai and Vietnamese. You might wonder, how the hell did I learn speaking those languages? Guess what?! Travel!

From all those travels, I didn’t know I will be a Professional Interpreter one day. I wasn’t formally trained, but I was curious and very competitive. So, I tried my best that it landed me an imaginary badge of being a Level 4 Interpreter after my assessment. It is based on the ILR Language Skill Level Descriptions for Speaking, Listening, Reading, and Writing. Did I make you curious too? Here’s how to become a Professional Interpreter. Simple.

  • Determination
  • Willingness to learn
  • Taking feedback constructively, no matter what
  • Conduct yourself in a professional way
  • Deliver

I have shared a lot of fun stories on how I started on Ricky Shetty’s podcast interview. Yes, it is good funds once you have established yourself to the circle of interpreters. From the companies, clients, and LEPs. I think, you’d enjoy more watching or listening to the podcast interview, so watch it below! Let me know what you think or if you have any questions about the topic!

How To Save Money When Sending Money

How to Save Money When Sending Money to Family

The Philippines is the 3rd highest remittance receiver in the world.  India at the very top followed by China according to Wikipedia. It is part of the Philippine culture to send money or imported goods to their families back home. That dynamic plays a big role in the country’s economy. Sending money can be expensive with all the hidden fees and charges that comes with it.

Balikbayan (returning to town) boxes are often sent especially during holiday season for the family in The Philippines. It contains the  most random things you can imagine from electronics, gadgets, apparel, unique products unavailable to the country etc.. Despite the expensive balikbayan boxes, it still continues to be part of the culture. These boxes are filled with years of saved things we bought on sale that we send our families home.

Yet, sending remittances is the most common way people send love back home, may it be for family allowance, children’s tuition fee, or a simple household needs. With that, fees are also a weight to the expense of a sender especially if they have to send often in some circumstances. Be smart with every penny.

How To Save Money When Sending Money

  1. Wire Transfer – Use your bank account wire transfer feature to save money on fees. International bank transfers can range from $15-80 per transaction which makes it less friendly for remittances, but because the technology is catching up, there are other ways to send your remittance. I use Wells Fargo ExpressSend, which costs me $4 per transaction, but it varies with the amount and location from where the remittance will be sent (I am not paid by Wells Fargo, this is just my experience as a customer). Check your own bank’s online transfer feature. It would sometimes ask you to initially apply in person at the branch before you can use it online for identity verification.
  2. Western Union App – Most of us have used Western Union, but did you know that you can send money for FREE or as little as $4.99 per transaction? Yes, FREE! If you want a no fee transaction, all you have to do is use a bank-to-bank transfer. It would take 5 days to be cleared. It’s as simple as signing up with their app, and be aware that you should NOT use ‘remember me’ feature for cyber security. Once you’ve logged in, you don’t have to keep entering bank details every same transaction. Now, if you need to send immediately, a fee of at least $4.99 will be charged, may it be for pick up or bank transfers. I have been using them forever! I use the bank-to-bank feature which makes it FREE! Once it becomes a recurring transfer with same amount, same account, same receiver it gets cleared faster (sometimes same day).

At the moment, I only have 2 ways to save money when sending money home. I thought the latter will be great news to people sending money to their loved ones in their country especially if it’s FREE. Let me know if you have other tips for saving money when sending money to family.

 

Baked Avocado with Egg and Bacon Recipe

Traveling is just so exciting that packing light to make the trip not a drag. Normally if it’s a road trip, I bring a lot of snacks and cooler filled with meats for barbeques. Often times if there’s a close supermarket, then I will just buy it from there especially the perishables. I also want an easy cooking or no cook recipes like parfait when traveling because I wanted to enjoy the trip too!

Here’s one easy to cook recipe, Baked Avocado with Egg and Bacon. Enjoy the short video clip and if you ended up trying it too, enjoy the food!