Friday, November 24, 2017

Chicago Travel Guide

Chicago is one of the best cities to live in the world. I truly believe that it’s even better than New York City. I was obsessed with New York before but when I went to Chicago, my mind has changed. Chicago is like a better version of New York since it’s cleaner, safer, greener and people are friendlier, the rent is cheaper and  their food is also great. 

What to do in Chicago?
1.      Watch a Cubs Game
2.      Stop by the City History Museum
3.      Ride a boat to see the Chicago River
4.      Chill by the Millennium Park 

How to Get Around Chicago?
Public transport in Chicago is very efficient. You can buy a “CTA Card” which will allow you to get from point to point for only $2 to $2.5. You can use this card in buses and trains.

Best time to Visit Chicago
Summer!!! Well, I always suggest summer in almost all places I go, since I really hate the cold weather especially winter.  It’s quite hard to travel whenever there is snow and  it’s harder to travel light when you  get to bring thermal and coat to any destination you go to.

Travel Tips
1.      Never leave without trying the deep dish pizza.
2.      Try to Couch surf to save money on hotel
3.      Download an Uber app or Lyft
4.      Find free walking tours
5.      Go to Outlet Malls for Shopping
6.      Take Pictures at the Skydeck of the Willis Tower
7.      If you don’t have enough time you can ride a Hop on Hop off bus to get to see all the places.
8.      Join the Broadway Lottery to get a chance to win cheap tickets to your favourite Broadway Shows in Chicago.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

DIY Guide: A Week in New York City for less than 70,000 Php


Staten Island Ferry

So Many Tourists at Wall Street 


Brooklyn Bridge

People Watching at East Village

Drinking at Mc Laren's Pub

New York is one of the most visited cities in the World. It’s famous for food, art, nightlife, fashion and theatre. It’s like the melting pot of the world; almost all cultures are represented here. There are so many immigrants living in New York, that when you are craving for a particular cuisine, you can go to their area and have one of the most authentic meals of your life. New York can be pretty expensive, but I can teach you a few tips on saving a few bucks while travelling the city.

High Line

TOP 10 Things to Do in New York City
1)      Walk the High- Line
2)      Ride the Staten Island Ferry for Free
3)      Jogging at Central Park
4)       Walk  the Brooklyn Bridge
5)      Take Selfies at Time Square
6)      Watch Broadway
7)       Visit Wall Street
8)      Picnic at Bryant Park
9)       Drink at a Rooftop Bar
10)   Eat at the Smorgasburg Market in Williamsburg
11)   See the Met Museum
12)    Watch a Baseball Game
13)  Food Trip at Chelsea Market
14) Helicopter Ride  of NYC Skyline
15)  See the View on top of the Rock  NYC

Hostels- A dorm can cost up to $25 to $ 40 per room, while a private room can cost up to $80 a night.
Hotels- Hotels in New York are super expensive averaging from $350 to $600 a night.
AIRBNB- You can easily get  a  one bedroom apartment in Manhattan for $50 to $100 a Night through this website
Home Stay- If you have a friend or a relative who lives in New York,  you can ask them if you can stay at their place  for a week to save money on accommodation.

Avenue Q


New York has food in all price ranges. Average cost of meal at a restaurant is $15 to $30 with additional 20% Tip, while Cocktail drinks may cost up to $15 to $20 at rooftop bars.  If you’re on a budget, you can get a slice of pizza for as low as $3. You can buy Halal street food for only $6, while First Class Restaurants can cost you up to $100/ per person. You can download the YELP app for food suggestions.
MY NYC Must Eat’s 

Pistachio Ice Cream at Morganstern’s;  Frozen Smores and Cookie Shot at Dominique Ansel;
Taco’s at Los Tacos, Chealsea Market; Mixed Gyro at Halal Guys; Porterhouse Steak at Delimonico’s;  Chocolate Chip Cookie at LeVain Bakery; Cheeseburger at Shake Shack 
Flatiron Building
Public Transportation is very efficient in New York and what’s great about their subway is that it is open 24/7. One Way fare to any destination within the 5 boroughs is just $2.75. If you will stay for a longer time in New York, I suggest you get their unlimited weekly pass for only $32 or their monthly pass for $120. You can also ride a yellow taxi for less than $15 for Short Distance. If you have data, you can also use Lyft which is cheaper than Uber.   You can also use ride shares like uber pool to save more money.
If you don’t have enough time in New York to go to the outlets, you can just go to Union Square for Shopping.  There are a lot of retail stores here where you can buy great bargains. To name a few are, Nordstrom Rack, Sephora, DSW for Shoes, Mac Cosmetics, Burlington, Forever 21, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s  and Baby’s R US.  I also found a cute bookstore that sells hard to find books at a very affordable price which is called Strand Bookstore near Union Square.  I also found a cute store in Soho, like Zara but sells it at a more affordable price which is called Necessary Clothing. You can also go to Century 21 and TJ Maxx if you want to buy good bargains.
 $60- 100 per Day.  I stayed at my friend’s place so I got to save my money on accommodations and bought groceries for breakfast.  I almost spend $60 a day for food and transportation.

TMobile offers a travel sim card for $30. It's good for 3 weeks which includes 3Gig Data and Unlimited calls and texts. Just make sure your phone is open line. I had to buy a new phone since my phone was locked with globe. In case you get lost, they have free Wi-Fi in the subway and Starbucks.   

How to Apply for a US Tourist Visa for Filipino Passport Holders?
  1. Know your Visa Type ( B1 Visa)
  2. Go to the Website
  3. Upload  your Picture
  4. Complete Your Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application form (DS-160)
  5. Pay the Visa Application Fee $160. Deposit via BPI
  6. Schedule your Appointment on their website.
  7. Be at least an hour before your interview and wear corporate attire.
  8. You must bring your passport and old passports, one recent id picture, MRV Fee payment receipt number, DS-160 confirmation page, and appointment letter.
  9. Bring Correct Supporting Documents in case they ask for it.  ( Birth Certificate,   Proof of Income, Photocopy of Past Visa, Travel Itinerary, Employment Certification/ Business Registration, Income Tax Return, NBI Clearance, Invitation Letter of a Relative in the US with their current immigration Status
  1. Be Confident in your interview
  2. Don’t LIE!!!  The US Consulate already knows everything about you before your interview.
  3. Prepare for your interview and practice at home.  
  4. They only asked for my passport during my interview but I also brought my supporting documents just in case.
  5. Don’t give out false documents.
Here are the questions they asked to me during my interview
  1. How long will you stay? ( It’s better to tell that you’ll just stay for 2 weeks)
  2. Who will fund your trip?
  3. Where will you stay?
  4. What’s your course in college?
  5. Where did you study?
  6. Do you have any relatives in America?
  7. What’s your itinerary?
  8. Where do you work?
  9. How much is your current salary?
  10. Why do you want to visit America?

Discounted Broadway Tickets

New York Travel Tips
1)      Buy a Metro Card. (Unlimited Weekly Pass $32)
2)      Download the YELP App to look for the best food within your budget
3)      Download the CITY MAPPER  App. This will be your life saver in getting to places you want to go. It will even tell you what are the best Exit/ Stop for your destination.
 4)  Download the TODAY TIX App to get discounts on broadway shows.
4)      If you get lost, you can go down to your nearest subway station to get free Wi-Fi.   You can also get free Wi-Fi at Starbucks.
5)      Look for the nearest Starbucks if you need to go to the bathroom.
6)      Be mindful of your belongings
7)      If you want to watch Broadway Shows, You can easily get 50% Discount on your tickets if you buy it 1 hour before at the TKTS Booth in Times Square. The tickets are usually Orchestra Seats which you can get great bargains.
8)      Giving tips in New York is a must. Some waiters even chase you out if you don’t give one.
9)      Hotels are very expensive in Manhattan. Average rooms cost up to $400 a Night. I suggest you just book an apartment though AIRBNB.  Or find a relative or a friend to stay with to save money on accommodation
10)   You can get free entrance on museums on certain days. You just have to do more research
11)   If you don’t have enough time to see the major tourist spots. I suggest you take the Hop on Hop Off for only $32 for 2 days that will show you the major tourist’s spots in the city.
12)   If you miss Filipino Food, you can go to Ugly Kitchen which is located in East Village. This place make you feel like you’re at home
13)   You can try to visit Williamsburg or Dumbo Brooklyn which is a very nice place to hang out.
14)   Do not rent or bring a car in New York. Parking is freaking expensive here. It’s also hard to find a parking spot.
15)   You can also Avoid Times Square unless you are a fan of the Broadway.
16)   Plan everything in advance if you want to save money.
17)   Wear Comfortable Shoes, if you plan to walk all the time
18)   Get lost and explore the city.
19)   I advise you to not go shopping in New York because taxes are quite high here.
20)   Don’t just focus on Manhattan. The other Burroughs are also amazing.
21)   Don’t make eye contact at the subway
22)   Check the Weather App.
23)   Always bring a bottle of water. Bottled Water is pricey if you buy all the time. You can easily find fountains or refill your water bottle everywhere.
24) Most of the food in New York has big servings. You can actually takeout your left over and eat it for your breakfast the next day to save more money. 

Detailed 7 Days/6 Nights New York Itinerary with Costing

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A Filipina's Shopping Guide to America