22 Days in Eastern Mindanao: How Much Does Long Term Travel Cost?

Oct 14 201633 comments


We recently concluded our long-term travel around Eastern Mindanao and people have been wondering just how much we actually spent after 22 days (actually, 22 nights and 21 days) outside of our home.

But, first, you might be wondering why we decided to go on such a long trip. Well, we have a few reasons in mind:

  • we wanted a change in environment; we’ve been cooped up quite long (about a year) in the house and we work from home — that can definitely affect your sanity
  • I wanted some inspiration and new material to help me with my work as a travel writer
  • we wanted to gain focus so we can prioritize things in life (like repaying debts) without distraction
  • we wanted to see how we will do living on our own (planning to move out of the house by the start of next year) even if we still had a lot of bills up our sleeves
  • we really wanted to test out how life is as digital nomads

I’m not sure if that is enough to convince you but it was enough to convince us to pursue the trip. We also had the chance to attend a wedding (the daughter had a role) and meet up a few former office mates during our trip.

Now, enough about that and on with the breakdown of our expenses. Let me remind you that this is already good for two adults and a toddler. You could probably go lower (or higher) depending on your way of traveling.


Total Expenses = ₱9,552.90

When it comes to transportation, I’d have to say that the partner is the best at haggling. I often give in to comfort and to avoid having back-and-forth conversations with the driver. Sometimes, the partner would insist on walking, as long as it did not exceed five kilometers, so we could save money and also familiarize the place. There were several days though that we just stayed inside because I had to nurse a foot injury.


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Our top tip in saving transportation expenses would be to always commute like a local. Yep, we did that even though we had huge backpacks with us.

Drivers asking for a pakyaw charge (a usually more expensive fixed rate to cover their “income loss” from the lack of passenger going back) is a common tourist trap so if you arrive at a new place, walk to the highway where you can get more transportation options. You’ll be surprised at how near that is and how much money you can actually save by just doing that.


Total Expenses = ₱5,894.00

When it comes to finding decent accommodation, the standard rate we have in mind is ₱500 a night.

There is this transient house we always stay at when in Davao City; we have stayed at their bigger room for ₱350 a night and add in ₱150 to use the airconditioning. This time around, however, we took a single room (poor partner had to sleep on the floor) for just ₱250 a night. We could have gotten it for just ₱5,000 a month but had to shorten our stay.

When we attended my former colleague’s wedding, the partner made friends with the caterer who offered us a room in his house for free. Yep, how awesome! We grabbed the opportunity and stayed there for six nights! Big thanks to Adrian (have your food catered by Morsels Express in Davao City) and Kevin who are now offering their room through AirBnB.

Thank you Adrian and Kevin for hosting us for the past 6 nights. Whew. 🙂

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As we moved to other cities, we stayed in hotels and budget inns averaging at ₱500 a night. We could have stayed longer camping by the beach but the weather wasn’t very nice (very, very humid) and we couldn’t open up our tents because of the nasty mosquitoes. We had to move out after a night and stayed in the city instead.

But, at an average expense of ₱268 per night, we didn’t do so bad, right?


Total Expenses = ₱5,242.10

We all know that dining out or even buying viand from outside can already eat up a major chunk of your budget. When we look for accommodations, we always try to see if there is an access to a kitchen (hooray for transient homes) so we could cook our own food.

And, since Filipinos are heavy rice eaters, we also realized how much we can save if we, at least, cooked our own rice. Each meal would cost us ₱30 on rice alone but, if we bought a kilo for ₱35 to ₱45, it would last us the next three to four meals. Cool, huh?

We also changed our breakfast to just bread and a glass of milk or coffee after realizing that Adrian and Kevin did the same. Hey, we didn’t scrimp on food — we just had to limit it so what we had was just enough to make us full (at home, my mom has a store so it felt like junk food was “unlimited”).

Other Necessary Expenses

Total Expenses = ₱4,657.00

So this part is a little tricky because I added in our grocery expenses which sometimes included our food. We also bought milk for the kiddo, toiletries and medicine and other supplies for my injured foot.

However, the biggest expense we had was our much-needed camping stove for ₱2,100 at Basekamp in GMall, Davao City. We actually already brought this when we were already on our way to Mati City. We also had to buy board shorts for the partner for our planned days at the beach since he forgot to bring his.

I didn’t include the initial expense I paid for a month-long mobile Internet connection although I did count the additional load I bought when we found out about the annoying data caps.

Unnecessary Expenses

Total Expenses = ₱1,903.00

This category included visits to museums and other attractions. We didn’t spend a lot on it and had to skip out a lot during the last leg of our trip because we were slightly out of budget and time.

This was already our third time in Davao City so it didn’t feel like we missed out a lot. We visited places we haven’t such as the Philippine Eagle Center and Gap Farm. In Mati City, we saw Dahican Beach and Subangan Museum and in Cateel, we visited Aliwagwag Falls. While I was doing some work, the partner and daughter would often take a stroll to the nearest park or playground, allowing them to have free entertainment. (It also helps exhaust the active little kiddo. Haha!)

We also had to spend some money on laundry (thank you to Hala Laba in Davao City for sponsoring our 3kg of clothes; they offer free pick-up and delivery, too) twice although the partner manually did it for a majority of the trip.

In a Nutshell

That’s about it.

I’ll also be publishing an expense guide for those who want to go on a land trip around Eastern Mindanao, as well as a guide per destination, in the next few posts.

We did a lot of research on the road and found out that there aren’t a lot of travelers who go from left to right: Cagayan to Davao City to Mati City to Cateel (Davao Oriental) to Bislig City (Surigao) to Butuan City to Surigao City. Whew.

Here’s a quick recap:

CategoryTotal ExpensesAverage Expense Per DayPercentage
Other Necessary Expenses₱4,657.00₱211.6817.12%
Unnecessary Expenses₱1,903.00₱86.506.99%

Key Takeaways:

  • Always make friends. You’ll never know who offers free accommodation. 😉
  • You don’t need luxury accommodations; just one with a decent place to sleep in and bathe in. Stable and fast Internet connection is a must for digital nomads. (Or you can visit friends and offer snacks, too.)
  • Cook your own food.
  • Use transportation like a local.
  • Take advantage of free attractions. You don’t have to cross off every single item in your bucket list; it isn’t a race.
  • Try to limit your travel on land because doing it non-stop (we did it on Day 21 and rode three buses across ~382 kilometers and ~14 hours) IS exhausting.

Are we planning any similar travel soon?

Not this year since we have already made priorities (pay debts and mortgage and make our future house livable so we could have it rented when we travel again next year).

We hope this post has inspired you to go out and travel (long term and indefinitely), too.

If you have questions, do comment below. We would love to hear from you!


Oh, hello there!

Pam is an outdoors-loving millennial momma who loves to hike, trek and camp in the beaches and mountains with her partner and their kiddos. When not exploring the great outdoors, she works with bloggers, coaches and solopreneurs to free up their time so they can work on the things that they love and enjoy the most.