The life of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) can be challenging, with long hours of work, homesickness, and being away from loved ones. When an OFW returns home to the Philippines, it is a much-awaited and joyous occasion for both the worker and their family. However, it can also be stressful as there is often pressure to spend and treat everyone, leaving the OFW with a financial burden that can last long after the vacation is over.
This article provides tips and advice on how OFWs can have a great and not so expensive vacation when they return home, as well as how to give gifts to relatives and family without breaking the bank. These tips aim to help OFWs enjoy their time at home without sacrificing their financial well-being.
Disclaimer: The information posted here is based on the personal experiences shared by the OFW in the video below. Please let this post serve as a guide only. If you have specific questions, you may ask the OFW by commenting on their video on their accounts.
OFW Tips: How to Enjoy a Great Vacation and Give Thoughtful Gifts Without Breaking the Bank
The information shared in this video comes from a vlogger whose YouTube channel is called Pause Pray Simplify. The vlogger’s name is Janice and she was a former OFW in Dubai, but now she is based in the Philippines together with her husband. If you are an OFW, you are welcome to her channel because her goal and dream is to be able to influence as many OFWs as they can, helping them maximize their time abroad so they can retire on their own terms in the Philippines or elsewhere. If you want to watch the full video, then click on the link below:
Going on vacation is one of the most expensive things an OFW can do. Sometimes, even if we go home from abroad we still end up having bills to pay. But the goal in this video is to make our vacation more cost efficient without sacrificing on our enjoyment, leisure time, and our relaxation.
Here is a summary of some tips for OFWs on how to have a great and not so expensive vacation when they return home to the Philippines:
- Set a budget – Determine how much money you can afford to spend on your vacation. Make sure to account for all expenses, including transportation, accommodation, food, and entertainment.
- Prioritize your spending – Focus on the things that matter most to you, such as spending time with family and friends, rather than on expensive activities or gifts.
- Be selective with who you treat – You don’t have to treat everyone you encounter during your vacation. Choose who you want to treat and on which occasions.
- Share expenses with family and friends – If you are going on vacation with your family or friends, consider sharing the expenses to reduce the financial burden.
- Avoid going into debt – Don’t spend beyond your means just to impress others or to keep up with peer pressure. Only spend what you can afford and save up for future vacations.
- Consider staying with family or friends – Accommodation can be one of the biggest expenses during a vacation. If possible, consider staying with family or friends to save money.
- Explore local attractions – The Philippines has a lot of beautiful and affordable tourist destinations that you can explore. Look for local attractions that fit your budget.
- Don’t feel pressured to buy expensive gifts – Remember that your presence is more important than the presents you bring. Don’t feel obligated to buy expensive gifts for everyone.
- Set realistic expectations – Don’t expect everything to be perfect during your vacation. Be flexible and open-minded and enjoy the experience.
By following these tips, OFWs can have a great and memorable vacation in the Philippines without breaking the bank.
Use Sinking Funds
Have a sinking fund for your vacation. A sinking fund is a fund that is set aside or saved to pay for debts, bonds, or big expenses.
When the vlogger worked in Dubai, she was a reporter for the United Arab Emirates, while her husband was a QA-QC engineer for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The example she gave in the video when it comes to money or expenses is, therefore, in Dirhams.
For example, say you want to go home to the Philippines and you want to have a budget of 10,000 dirhams, which is around 151,000 pesos or 3,670 US dollars depending on the exchange rate. If your projected date of vacation is December, then you should start dividing 10,000 dirhams into small chunks starting from January.
That means you can save 1000 dirhams per month starting January, so that when December arrives, you have already met your budget. Just divide your target amount by the number of months you can save for it every month and stick to it.
In Dubai, employees are entitled to a one-month paid vacation. However, some OFWs make the mistake of using this bonus as their vacation fund. This approach is not practical as you still have bills to pay for the entire month. Rent, utilities, and other payments still need to be settled. If you use your salary for that month to cover your vacation expenses, you will have to compromise on your other expenses and payments.
On Giving Gifts
How do OFWs feel about returning home? The answer is simple: “pasalubong.” This entails purchasing expensive gifts for family members, relatives, coworkers, friends, and even neighbors. In reality, for an OFW, nearly 70% of their luggage is filled with gifts. However, the origin of this practice is unknown to the vlogger, who does not suggest that it is incorrect. It is admirable to share one’s blessings and exhibit generosity to others.
However, we should always remember that we shouldn’t feel pressured by what other people say when we go home, especially if we don’t have a budget for gifts or pasalubong. Will not giving gifts make a difference or change our relationship? The vlogger doesn’t think so, because our presence is more important than the presents we give away.
One type of gift that may be considered useless is a refrigerator magnet. Although we often give them away, they serve no practical purpose and simply collect dust. We can save a significant amount of money by not purchasing these kinds of gifts. Moreover, why do we feel obligated to give gifts to people whom we seldom interact with? Take, for instance, relatives whom we only see infrequently. The vlogger suggests that we discontinue the practice of giving useless items, clutter, or trash to individuals who do not regularly contribute value to our lives.
If you just really want to give away things, that’s okay, so as long as it fits your budget. Don’t borrow money just to buy gifts. Make sure you just give to the people important to you. And don’t buy expensive gifts.
Here are more tips on giving gifts to your family or relatives as an OFW without breaking the bank:
- Plan ahead – Make a list of the people you want to give gifts to and set a budget for each person.
- Buy in bulk – If you have several relatives or friends who you want to give the same gift to, consider buying in bulk to save money.
- Look for sales and discounts – Keep an eye out for sales and discounts on items you want to give as gifts. This can save you a lot of money in the long run.
- Send packages ahead of time – If you plan on giving gifts that are too bulky or heavy to bring with you, consider sending them ahead of time through a courier service. This will give you more time to shop around for the best deals and also save you from carrying too much baggage.
Don’t Always Spend on Others for Free
OFWs often feel compelled to be generous when they return home, even to the point of spending on others without restraint. However, this is not a practice that we should feel obligated to continue. In fact, it may be better for us not to do so. We don’t need to treat everyone, only the ones we truly care about. It’s not necessary to treat our friends, as this can be a misguided practice.
The vlogger recalls a time when they visited their friends and were pleasantly surprised that they never asked them to pay for anything. In fact, sometimes their friends even treated them. When they went on a vacation to Palawan, they even paid for their own expenses, such as tickets and food. The vlogger believes that OFWs don’t need to feel obligated to treat others for free.
It’s important to have friends who appreciate your time and company, rather than just what you can do for them. The vlogger and their best friends split expenses during their travels to Manila, Singapore, and El Nido.
Split the Cost
Following the previous tip of not feeling obligated to treat everyone during your vacation, consider the following useful tips:
- Be selective with the occasions when you do offer to treat others.
- Choose the number of people you treat.
- Choose who these individuals are.
- Split the cost.
Another way to save on expenses is to split or share the cost. For instance, if you’re going on a family trip, such as a reunion or a visit to Baguio, it’s advisable to suggest sharing the expenses among everyone involved, whether it’s with your siblings, parents, uncles, aunts, or other relatives.
According to the vlogger, some viewers might get upset with her for saying that when an OFW suggests a vacation, it doesn’t automatically mean that they have to foot the bill. This kind of thinking, she says, is rooted in an Asian mentality where guests are expected to be treated by the host. In Western countries, however, even if someone suggests an activity, it’s common to split the expenses or chip in.
It is advisable to limit your treat only to your immediate family and parents. You can invite your less fortunate relatives, but only if you have enough funds to cover their expenses. If you cannot afford to invite them, there is no need to feel pressured to do so. It is not wise to go into debt just to impress others or to follow the crowd. However, if you have savings, it’s alright to indulge a bit during your vacation.
The opinion of others is not important. Some people might say, “Oh, how boastful he/she has become just because he/she has gone abroad! Oh, how stingy he/she has become just because he/she has gone abroad!” If you know deep down that you’re not stingy and you’re doing this just to avoid borrowing money or being in a tight situation during your vacation, it’s more important not to mind what others say. If you can split the expenses, it’s better.
Look for Free or Low-cost Activities
One way to save money on your vacation is to look for free or low-cost activities. Many destinations offer free tours, museums, or parks that you can enjoy without spending a lot of money. You can also look for affordable restaurants or street food that offer delicious local cuisine without breaking the bank. If you’re planning a beach vacation, you can also save money by bringing your own snacks, drinks, and beach gear instead of renting or buying them at the resort.
Book Flights and Accommodations in Advance
Another way to save money on your vacation is to book your flights and accommodations in advance. Many airlines and hotels offer discounts for early bookings, so if you plan your vacation ahead of time, you can take advantage of these deals. You can also use travel comparison websites to find the best prices on flights and accommodations. If you’re flexible with your travel dates, you can often find cheaper deals on weekdays or during off-peak seasons.
Finally, it’s important to remember that the purpose of a vacation is to relax and enjoy yourself. Don’t get too caught up in the planning or the expenses, and don’t be afraid to deviate from your itinerary or budget if something unexpected comes up. Remember, a vacation is a time to make memories with your loved ones, so focus on the experiences rather than the costs.