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!

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.

Four Free, Kid-Friendly Attractions in New York City

A visit to the Big Apple is a great way to spend a family vacation. While the city may seem like it is more geared toward adults, there are tons of fun things that you can do with children as well. And though New York can be expensive, it certainly doesn’t have to be if you know where to go. If your next family vacation includes a stop in New York City, consider checking out these four kid-friendly attractions which are absolutely free.

New York Libraries

The New York library system is one of the best in the world and offers plenty of fun activities for youngsters. With great family programming and tons to explore, the children’s sections at many libraries in the city as worth the visit. Top branches include the Children’s Center at the main branch of the New York Public Library, the Children’s Library Discovery Center in Queens, and the Central Branch in Prospect Heights.

NEW YORK CITY, NY - DEC 30: New York Public Library and street on December 30, 2011 New York City. It is the 2nd largest public library in US and managed with both private and public financing.

Sing for Hope Pianos

If you happen to be in New York during June, you should definitely check out the Sing for Hope Pianos. These pop up pianos in New York serve as a form of interactive street art. Organized by the Sing for Hope charity, this annual project puts 50 handpainted pianos in the parks and public spaces of all five New York boroughs for public use. Painted by local artists, the pianos are there for anyone to enjoy. Whether you happen upon a delightful performance or have your children play a number, this is a great activity for the whole family.

Sing for Hope

New York Museums

It is no secret that New York is home to some of the world’s greatest museums. Luckily some of them are free and great for the family. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan features a number of interactive learning exhibits. You can visit for free on the first Friday of the month. The Museum of the Moving Image is also a great choice, which offers free admission on Friday afternoons. Here you can learn about all about the history of movies, television, and digital media.

New York City - January 31, 2016: American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. The museum collections contain over 32 million specimens.

Staten Island Ferry

One of the hidden gems of New York is the Staten Island Ferry. This free ferry takes passengers back and forth between Manhattan and Staten Island all day, providing an outstanding and absolutely free view of the Statue of Liberty. Once there, you might enjoy exploring the area, including the Staten Island Zoo, which is free on Wednesdays afternoons.

NEW YORK - JULY 2: People taking the Staten Island Ferry on July 2, 2012 in New York. The S. I. Ferry has been a municipal service since 1905, and carries over 21 million passengers annually.

7 Boat Safety Tips

Don’t play around with the safety of your kids. Before you take that family trip on the water, consider these seven boat safety tips.

1. Check the Weather

Are there any storms on the horizon? Will there be strong winds or big waves when you’re setting off on the water? It’s important to know what the weather has in store for you and your family before you sail away in your boat.

2. Prepare Your First-Aid Kit

1,000 people will have 1,000 opinions about what makes a well-stocked first-aid kit, but how you pack it is less important than the fact that you packed it in the first place. You never know when someone will get hurt while you’re miles from civilization.

3. Count Your Flotation Devices

Personal flotation devices (PFDs) come in a variety of forms, including life jackets and inflatable rings. Make sure you have enough for every single passenger on board. Do a head count before every trip.

4. Have Emergency Supplies on Hand

Are you prepared for loose screws and broken ropes? What will you do if your boat lift winch goes overboard? Prepare for every possibility by always having back-up equipment at the ready.

5. Ensure Communication with the Coast

There are several ways to communicate with those back on land. Some people just use their smartphones; others prefer old-school gadgets like radios. Again, the what is less important than the fact that you have communication devices at all. Never be at sea without a way of contacting others on shore.

6. Share Your Plans

Let someone know where you’re going and when you plan on coming back. It can be someone as official as a coast guard or someone as informal as your cousin; just make sure that at least one person understands to sound the alarm if you go missing.

7. Make Checklists

Parents, you’re probably already familiar with the power of a checklist, so don’t be afraid to wield your wand when it comes to boat safety as well. Make checklists for pre- and post-departure, and follow them to the letter every time.

These are just a few things to keep in mind if you’re serious about boat safety. As you can see, there’s a lot to prepare before you go out on the water, but you’ll appreciate your diligence in the event of an emergency.

FIRST Robotics: Raising Visionaries and Innovators

Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg – they are the digital visionaries of our generation.  Aside from being successful innovators in the field of technology and being among the world’s most famous billionaires, they all have another thing in common – All of them were trained through STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Education.

STEM Education is what FIRST Robotics wants to emphasize in its programs that focus on robotics literacy.  FIRST Robotics is the country’s pioneering center in the field of robotics.   It uses state-of-the-art materials that allow children to design, build, and program robots.  Children as young as 4 learn to be creative and resourceful in a fun learning environment.

Age-Appropriate Programs for Future Innovators

FIRST Robotics has age-appropriate programs that enhance skills, encourage learning, and foster hard work.

FR 4+

Kids age 4 – 6 are taught basic building concepts that develop their fine motor skills and enhance their creativity.  At FIRST Robotics, they also discover how people, animals, and things move then they learn how to build their own models of these.   For this age group, LEGO Duplo is used.

FR 7+

For kids age 7 – 8, LEGO WeDo is used to introduce young kids to information and control technology (ICT).  They learn how to make inanimate objects move using basic visual programming.  They build models of animals and things using sensors and other mechanical parts then use a drag-and-drop software to make their models react to stimuli and move.

FR 9+

More advance concepts are taught to kids age 9 and older using LEGO MindStorms.  At this stage, kids are not only able to build their own robots but are also able to design their own programs to control the robot’s movements. They are given the challenge of designing, building, and programming robots that perform specific functions such as going through various obstacle courses or doing useful tasks.

Make Dreams Come True

Most of us have had grand dreams when we were very young. We dreamed of becoming astronauts, scientists, and inventors. Unfortunately, not all of us are given the resources to put these dreams into reality, especially those of my generation when technology was still limited.

Fortunately, there are now plenty of opportunities for our children that aid them in fulfilling their own dreams.  As parents, we must strive to provide them the means to grab these opportunities and to encourage them to work hard for their dreams to come true.

Make your little one’s dreams come true and bring them to  the place

“where fun learning rules”!

For more information about the programs being offered by FIRST Robotics, visit their website at www.FIRSTRobotics.ph or check out their Facebook page at First Robotics Learning Center.

To read about my kids’ fun learning day at FIRST Robotics, visit Taking Legos to The Next Level at First Robotics.

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