Like everyone else who leaves the beach, the Maldives has always been on our travel bucket list. A series of events led us to take a risk and book that last-minute flight to the Maldives for our week-long anniversary trip.
My husband and I like traveling together, not just to tick off some places in each our bucket lists but to enjoy these travel experiences together. Since I’m the one with the OCD, my husband usually leaves the trip planning to me. We have long ago, agreed to list of places we’d want to go to for our anniversaries, one of those places is the Maldives. While vacationing in the Maldives seemed like a distant dream before, reading about Rappler’s article “Maldives on a budget” as well as following Never Ending Footstep’s blog entries on “How to Travel the Maldives on a Budget“, stirred up a longing for the actual experience.
Taking heart from all the articles I saw online extolling the virtues of budget travel to the Maldives, I decided to do my research, work on a realistic itinerary and crunch numbers. It took a few weeks for me to scour the internet with feedback from locals who’ve been to the Maldives. To help decide how to pin down our itinerary and budget, we had to pin down how many days we wanted to spend in paradise (forever would have been a great idea!), airline (the cheapest available of course!), whether we’d be willing to sacrifice an extra day each way for cheaper airfare but longer layover time, where we would be staying when in the Maldives (hostel, guesthouses, resorts or hotels??), and what we really wanted to get out of the trip, in terms of experiences.
We are perhaps the worse budget travelers nor will we even bother pretending that we are DIY travelers or backpackers. In my younger days (back when backpacking was not even popular and booking trips via travel agencies was the usual way to go), I have done a lot of backpacking and camping with friends around the Philippines. Now that I’m older, I must admit, my body can’t take the same abuse anymore. These days, we make plans to travel at the spur of the moment or a few weeks before the actual trip, mainly because our schedules are very unpredictable. So what we do is we usually bulk up our travel fund as much as we can during the year in preparation for the following year’s travels (we follow something like the 52-Week Money Challenge but we up the amount depending on where we’re planning to go), this means we scrimp as much as we can during the year. We eat out only on special occasions (not even fast food!) or sometimes once in a weekend, we buy our groceries in bulk, we plant our own vegetables, we save on utilities, etc. We usually list the activities we want to do or sights we want to see for our place, make our trip itinerary with detailed budget and see whether we can afford such trip (trimming some activities along the way).
When you’ve spent weeks researching and reading about Maldives, you suddenly realize there’s so much to the country than just it’s beautiful white sand beaches and breathtaking underwater creatures. Each article and blog I’ve read only fueled my interest and determination to visit the Maldives but at the same time, it added to the confusion and the what-seems to be a mounting checklist to tick off.
Following Rappler’s recommendation, we decided to give budget Tiger Airlines a go. In hindsight, I realized that “budget airline” isn’t necessarily true especially if you haven’t booked your flights under promo fare or you’re booking a trip at the last minute. In our case, Tiger Airways was the “cheapest” available flight for our target dates, of course we’d have to endure the long layover at Changi Airport Singapore. Although we did pay extra (SGD48 per person) for TigerPlus which according to their website provides the following benefits: dedicated check-in, SATS Premier Lounge, priority boarding. One of the main reasons we paid extra for these items is because we wanted to see what the fuss is really about. More of Tiger Airlines and our flight details on a separate post.
So with our airline decided upon, we checked the dates around our anniversary to make sure there were available flights. Working around the available flight schedules for our preferred dates, the length of travel time (including lay over time), the weekend (Fridays to Saturdays) being observed in Male Capital where we were touching down, as well as planning our itinerary to ensure that we would spend our last few days (as well as our anniversary date) at the island resort, we were able to come up with a workable 10D/9N itinerary. To sum up our entire 10D/9N-day trip to the Maldives: we spent almost 2 days/nights for the round trip flights (MNL-MLE (via Singapore)-MNL) including layover times + Overnight stay at Male Capital (Sala Boutique Hotel) + 3 nights at the local island of Maafushi (Equator Beach Inn) and 3 nights at the island resort (Kurumba Maldives).
There were so many intricacies in planning our Maldives trip – from the logistics, how to get to each place, where to stay, what to do and where to eat. Being the OCD person that I am, these were something I wanted to ensure even before we arrived in Male. For each place and activity, I wanted to set a budget mostly to reassure myself that we had enough cash in case of emergencies.
One thing’s for sure, if and when you decide to go to the Maldives, be sure to bring along your sun glasses, swimsuits, coveralls, a hat, sunblock and after-sun lotion! The sun shines bright and hot everyday when you’re in the Maldives so sunblock/sunscreens and after-sun lotions will be your best friends. Most of all, sit back and relax and enjoy the beach.
So come join me as I reminisce on our Maldives trip in the next couple of entries, but for now here’s our Maldives trip in a nutshell.
Day 0 – Manila to Singapore (Singapore layover 7 hours)
Day 1 – Singapore to Male (Arrive Male 11am) / Overnight at Male
Day 2 – Male to Maafushi / Overnight at Maafushi
Day 3 – Maafushi
Day 4 – Maafushi
Day 5 – Maafsuhi to Male (for ferry to Kurumba Resort) / Overnight at Kurumba
Day 6 – Kurumba
Day 7 – Kurumba
Day 8 – Depart Kurumba / Male to Singapore (Singapore layover 5 hours)
Day 9 – Singapore to Manila