How I Saved Money and Time Booking Ace Hotel and Suites Through the Traveloka App

Life has a funny way of making sure that all the great things that happen are all squeezed together!  At least that’s what often happens to us.  Take August, for instance, when we had two full weeks jampacked with activities and preparations for the first Homeschoolers Science Exhibit and the kids’ very first portfolio review.  This February was not much different!  A week before their third quarter portfolio review was the 21st Hot Air Balloon Festival.  That was one full day of fun with friends and one full day of sleeping all day (for the kids) and cleaning up and laundry (for me).  This was followed with days of putting together their “book” (kids’ task!) and encoding their grades (my task).  Aside from that, the kids also had activities with other homeschoolers – Engineering for Kids, Challenge Island, Learn Group, etc. So, yes, it was a crazy two weeks again for me!  (Ain’t all weeks crazy for that matter?!)

Well, I needed a break! We all did! So for their end-of-quarter reward, we decided to stay at Ace Hotel and Suites for one night because “we’ve not been back to Ace Water Spa for ages!” Uhm…our last trip there was June last year, so “ages” is about right. In the kids’ calendar, I’ve been living for centuries!

I’ve heard great reviews of the Traveloka App from a friend and decided to give it a try booking our staycation.  I’m definitely glad I did!  I saved not only time but also money doing so.

It’s FAST and EASY TO USE!!!

I opened the Traveloka app at 7:05pm and by 7:22 pm, I had already received the e-voucher.  I also simultaneously received a text message and an email confirming our booking.  That’s about 17 minutes but that also includes several minutes away from my phone because …”Mama, I need help please…”, “Mama, I need to poop…”, “Mama, please check this…” and a few other “emergencies”.  I think I actually spent only 5-10 minutes on the Traveloka AppThat’s 10 minutes max!

It’s very easy to navigate through the app.  In choosing the hotel, I just needed to choose the city or country (yes, it can be used to book international hotels!!!) and the dates we wished to stay.  It took about a second or two to show a list of available hotels which I could sort according to price, popularity, or rating. I was also able to filter the list according to my accommodation preferences, budget, and required facilities.  There’s also a map that shows where all the hotels are located so it’s easier to choose the one that’s most convenient for us.

I, of course, choose Ace Hotel and Suites as the kids requested.  After choosing the hotel, I filled in the needed information, confirmed the details, then paid online.  Traveloka uses Dragonpay which accepts VISA and Mastercard from most major banks.  You can also choose to pay over-the-counter at 7-11, M. Lhuillier, or BDO.

I surprisingly received my e-voucher and email confirmation just a couple of minutes after.  I also received a text message with my hotel voucher summary.  Now I didn’t have to anxiously wait whether the transaction went through properly or not.

It Offers EXCLUSIVE DEALS and PROMOS!

Aside from saving me so much time, booking through the Traveloka App also saved me money!   Our overnight stay at Ace Hotel and Suites costs only 4,774.19.  That already included taxes and surcharges.  There were no transaction fees and no hidden charges. There were no additional charges to be paid upon check-in.  Of course, we had to comply with the standard room deposit for incidental charges but that was promptly returned upon check out.

The published rates for the room we booked ranges from 6,000 to 7,000 so we saved more than 1,000 pesos using the Traveloka App!

Aside from the already money-saving exclusive deals, Traveloka also offers promotions that offers varied discounts both on flights and hotel accommodations.

It Could Be Your Best Travel Buddy!

While relaxing on Saturday morning (I didn’t have to cook breakfast and wash the dishes, Hurrah!!!!), I browsed through the Traveloka App again and found out that we could book flights there as well. Imagine that – just one app to search for and to book both flights and accommodations!

For flights, you just need to choose your place of origin, destination, travel dates, and passenger numbers.  The app then gives you a list of all airlines that have available flights. You can sort the list according to price, departure and arrival times, or duration.  It’s really very easy to scroll down the list.  It’s really very handy when you’re on a budget and are looking for the cheapest flight.

For hotels, you just need to specify the area or city with your preferred dates.  You can also filter the choices according to the facilities you require and your budget.  It’s also very easy to scroll through the list.  Moreover, you don’t have to go to another website to complete your booking.  Everything is done through the app.

Would I use the Traveloka App for our next vacation or staycation?

Definitely, yes!  You should try it too!

4 Great Baby Apps for New Parents

If you’re about to welcome your first child into the world, you’re probably overwhelmed with thoughts of feeding times and crib safety measures. Let these four apps take away some of the stress!

1. Total Baby

Cover artThis “baby logging” app will keep track of all the details that you’re too busy or too tired to write down. From bath times to changing schedules, all you have to do is input the data and let Total Baby work its recording, archiving and organizing magic. You can even monitor things like immunizations and growth charts when you utilize the app’s tracking utilities.

2. DecorPad

Image result for DecorPad appThough not technically a baby app, DecorPad can help you get your home in order before the newest member of your family arrives. Offering all kinds of pictures and galleries from top interior designers, you’ll be able to re-create or re-design your entire home from frontroom furnishings to nursery paint colors. Just make sure that you get it all done before you go into labor!

3. My Pregnancy & Baby Today

Cover artThis day-by-day app will help you track and record every moment of your pregnancy and first year as a parent. Not only will you enjoy things like countdowns, health tips, daily calendars, sonogram images and time-lapse videos of your belly, but you’ll also be able to connect with other moms-to-be who are expecting at the same time as you. Share your joys, triumphs and milestones with a community of like-minded people who will support your parental journey just as much as you support theirs.

4. Cloud Baby Monitor

Say goodbye to bulky baby monitors! Cloud Baby Monitor is a wireless, cloud-based app that can be integrated with all Apple devices, including iPhones, iPads and Apple TVs. It will keep you attuned to all of your baby’s sounds and movements with a wide variety of features such as motion alerts and noise level indicators. It even offers two-way microphones and remote night lights with adjustable controls if you want to soothe your baby from another room! Now that’s the kind of convenience that you need during a 2AM wake-up call.

These are just four apps that will help you prepare for your little bundle of joy. It will be a challenging period in your life, but with the help of useful and up-to-date technology, it doesn’t have to be a stressful one!

How to Find the Best Mattress

Most people spend approximately 33 percent of their lives sleeping, making the bed one of the most used piece of furniture in the home. The mattress that you sleep on will determine your quality of sleep and how comfortable you feel during the night. To sleep soundly and feel rested each day, there are a few important tips to find the best mattress to sleep on.

Tranquility + GelRead Reviews

It’s important to read the reviews of different mattresses to determine customers’ experiences with the products. Consider the comfort level, the firmness of the product, and if the mattress maintained its durability.

Test it Out

Although it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by dozens of white mattresses when visiting a store, try to test out three to four mattresses that fit within your budget. This will make it easier to get an idea of what type of mattress is most comfortable without getting confused with the number of options that are available. It’s important to bring your partner along to determine how much you both enjoy certain products and if you have enough room on the bed to stretch out.

Legacy + GelConsider Your Options

Consider testing out a foam mattress or a coil mattress to evaluate how they each differ from one another. If you choose a mattress that has coils, consider an inner-spring mattress or a non-inner-spring mattress. Those who prefer a softer mattress can opt for a mattress that is constructed out of different types of foam.

Many people also have allergic reactions to the type of materials that are used on mattresses, making it important to consider the best natural mattress that is safe to sleep on. Opt for a product that is constructed out of renewable resources like bamboo, aloe, and palm or castor oils.

Review the Warranty

Most mattress companies offer 30-day warranties to ensure that you can return the product if you change your mind after taking it home. Review the warranty to protect your investment and allow yourself to have the freedom to choose another product if you’re unsatisfied with your original choice.

To improve your quality of sleep and enjoy spending time in your bed, it’s important to choose the right mattress that can be used long-term. By narrowing down your options and conducting research, you can feel satisfied with your purchase and avoid waking up throughout the night.

Revitalize + Gel

Don’t Be Afraid to Learn a Musical Instrument

Learning a musical instrument can seem like an incredibly daunting task. That’s especially true if you’re an adult who has never played before. After all, most of the people you know who play anything probably started when they were kids or teenagers.

Whether you’re in your mid-20s or your mid-60s though, you can learn to play any musical instrument you want. While it may require a lot of hard work on your part, learning to play music can be incredibly rewarding.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can overcome your fear of learning to play a musical instrument, as well as some tips on how you can get started. After all, once you get that instrument in your hands and a little practice under your belt, the fear of the unknown is likely to melt away quite quickly.

Buy a Quality Instrument

When young children are learning to play music for the first time, it might not make sense to invest in a decent instrument. However, since you’re an adult with your own income, making an investment in good quality musical equipment makes a lot more sense.

By purchasing something decent to play, you’ll be setting yourself up to learn the fundamentals on an instrument that allows for better performance. That can mean a lot, especially during the first frustrating phase where everything seems impossible.

Purchasing a good quality instrument also means that it should have some resale value on the used market. If you buy a used instrument, you may even be able to sell it for the same amount you bought it for if you decide it isn’t for you.

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Don’t Ignore Music Books

Music books aren’t the only helpful resource for adults learning an instrument, but things like music workbooks can really go a long way for many people. When you’re first learning, basic chord books and scale books can also do a lot for your progress.

Find a local music shop and pick up beginner’s books that look appealing to you.

Beginner Music Workbook - Teachers' Edition The Help BookIntermediate Music Workbook

 

Consider Private Lessons

If you can afford it, private lessons will help you learn your instrument in a fast, efficient way. Even if you don’t take private lessons for months or years, getting a few when you first start can help you master the fundamentals, making learning the rest on your own considerably easier.

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Experience Travel and History Adventures with Kids

Most people like to travel because of the fun and adventure that it offers. But travelers can actually bring home more than just fun from their trips. A lot can be learned by visiting different places and experiencing new cultures. Sightseeing and museum trips are great tools for learning about history, especially for kids. Taking them to historical places brings life to the lessons that they have read in books. There are plenty of destinations in the Philippines where you can enjoy travel and history adventures with kids, and most have kid-friendly hotels that you can book online. If you want to find the best deals, you can try looking at Traveloka. This website offers the best prices with no hidden charges so you’ll definitely enjoy great savings. Most of our travels involve road trips to Luzon provinces; but last year, we decided to explore the Visayas Region.

Cebu and Bohol are popular tourist destinations because there are plenty to see and do in these cities. The kids immediately got excited when we told them that we were going to Cebu and Bohol for a short holiday. We also told them about our planned itinerary to see if it was something that they would enjoy. Getting your kids’ opinion in your travel plans is one way to guarantee a happy trip. I’m pretty sure that they got excited with the idea of a plane ride, then nothing else mattered from that point on.

So, I finalized our itinerary and booked flights and accommodations in Cebu. We got a family room at the Crimson Resort in Mactan, Cebu for our first day then transferred to the Summit Circle Hotel in Cebu City the following day. It may seem unusual to have bookings at two different hotels for one trip, but this strategy enabled us to maximize our trip.

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From the airport, we took a 10 min ride to the Crimson Resort hours earlier than check-in time. The kids wanted to try the waters as soon as they saw the beach and the swimming pools so we left our luggage first at the reception area and used the shower rooms in the pool area to change into swimming gear. Rest and recreation is first on the agenda in our travel and history adventures with kids. This is because I wanted the kids to take a break from anything that has to do with school before our sight-seeing trips.  We hit the beach right in time for the fish feeding activity.  Having dozens of fish swimming around us, however, freaked little Jade out so we spent the rest of the morning in the swimming pool.  She refused to go back to the beach the rest of our stay there.

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The following day we transferred to the Summit Circle Hotel in Cebu City. This hotel is located at the city proper where most of the landmarks are within reach. Accommodations in the city proper are more practical for tourists who want to experience the history and culture of Cebu City, while those who love the beach may be better off in Mactan Hotel and Resorts. We chose the Summit Circle for its affordability and the convenience it offered since the mall was easily accessible and it was walking distance to a lot of other establishments.

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We spent a whole day visiting landmarks during our travel and history adventures in Cebu. The kids started their history lessons with a tour of Fort San Pedro, a walled city similar to Intramuros in Manila. We had been to Fort Santiago before so the kids were able to see the similarities in the two forts.  We then proceeded to the Basilica Minore del Santo Nino Cebu, the oldest Catholic Church in Cebu built during the 16th century. We pointed out the stained glass designs and some structural details so the kids can appreciate the art and architecture from that era.  Right beside the Basilica was Magellan’s Cross where they saw the original cross planted by Ferdinand Magellan when he first landed in the island of Cebu.  Our visit to the Taoist Temple was quite challenging because we had to negotiate what felt like a thousand steps to get to the top. It was a good thing that my kids are always up for an adventure and made it to the top without getting cranky. We had a nice view of the city and the kids enjoyed exploring the temple. It was also one way to expose the kids to different beliefs and to teach them about respect for all religion.

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After a busy day in Cebu, I was surprised to see the kids fully recharged and ready for the next leg of our trip. We took a ferry from the Cebu Port to Tagbilaran, Bohol for a quick tour of popular tourist spots in Bohol. We enjoyed a scenic countryside ride to the Chocolate Hills, Blood Compact Monument, Baclayon Church, and Tarsier Sanctuary.  Our first stop was the Tarsier Sanctuary.  The kids were scared at first but they became more comfortable as they learned about the animals from our guide. They even wanted to take a tarsier home but of course we had to explain to them why that wasn’t allowed.  We then took a short drive and a long hike up the viewing deck at The Chocolate Hills.  Some parts of the Chocolate Hills were affected by the great quake years ago but these hills are still awesome creations of nature. The kids also got their dose of history by learning about the blood compact ritual and visiting the Baclayon Church.  We had lunch while enjoying the Loboc River Cruise. It was pretty uneventful but the “adventure” ambiance kept the kids excited throughout the ride.

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We had a very fulfilling travel and history adventures with kids during our trip to Cebu and Bohol. I am very happy that the kids enjoyed their experience, perhaps more than I did. They also brought home a lot of fun facts from their trip that they shared with friends and family. Proving once again that travel isn’t just a fun experience. You can also give your kids a fair share of art, history, religion and cultural lessons by indulging in these trips.