Earth Vagabonds to leave the Philippines

Ellen & Theo in the Philippines, April 5, 2022.

Last Updated on June 3, 2023 by Ellen

Can we still tour the world through budget slow travel in the post-COVID era on $2,000 a month? Is that still enough money to live in relative comfort as we visit different countries?

Maybe, for certain countries. But certainly not as many as before the early 21st century pandemic.

COVID has added to the cost of travel. And the cost of living is up for just about everything everywhere.

We’re about to find out how much it really will cost to slow travel the world now, because we are (finally) leaving the Philippines.

As our readers know, we arrived in the country in November 2019. A few months later, the pandemic hit. We chose to stay on mainland Malay on Panay Island when everything here down in mid-March 2020. Mainland Malay is across a channel from the world-famous, tourist-centric Boracay Island.

We never could have guessed we’d stay this long – or that a pandemic would change our retired budget travel world.

Earth Vagabonds to leave the Philippines

First stop: Bangkok

We decided to start with Thailand for my health reasons, and because we already are in this part of the world.

Costs so far:

  • Mandatory COVID insurance for Thailand ,- $108
  • Mandatory testing and government-approved hotel stay for the first night for two people – $218
  • Airfare for two people, Caticlan to Bangkok – $455
  • Our exit clearances for the Philippines – $20

So far, the total is at $801 just to get there — 40% our monthly budget.

Our month-long Airbnb rental in the heart of Bangkok is $700 incuding the Airbnb fees.

It has a spectacular city view, it’s close to the rail line, with a king-sized bed, a washer and dryer (!), fast WiFi, a pool (!), a TV with cable (!), microwave (!), and more. We haven’t had these types of amenities in a long time – nearly 2.5 years – so it’s a splurge. We could have done it with fewer amenities for $500.

With our month-long rental cost added to the travel and entry costs, we are up to nearly $1,500. That only leaves $500 for everything else on our previous $2,000 a month budget.

Could we do it? Of course. But will we? Probably not.

We are realistic, and we can shoot for that goal of 2k. But it’s more realistic that we will spend closer to $2,500 a month.

Bottom line: we’re going to test things out as Earth Vagabonds will soon be on the move again!

Budgets are relative

Budget slow travel is still our mantra. We still aren’t gonna stay at five-star resorts. We will still rent by the month, travel by land as much as possible, look for the best deals — all while living frugally.

And we will continue to help people we meet who cannot possibly fathom having 2k a month to spend on world travel.

If we are ever asked, “What did you do during the pandemic?”, we have incredible stories to share — because we shared our money. We simply took our travel money that was not used on travel, and we literally gave it away.

For two years.

Funerals, surgeries, loan payments. Food, utility bills, doctor visits. Boats, fishing nets and traps. Electric and water service to a remote indigenous village. Christmas for kids. Big tips for exceptional service. A new oven, a new comfort room… even a new house.

And then some.

We feel as if these last two years were spent well — that we were ‘supposed to be’ here — that God’s plan was for us to help our Filipino friends.

Now, it’s time to go. It’s time to take back our lives, to live the slow travel dream, and spend a little more money on ourselves.

Our friends here will be OK. Tourism is slowly increasing.

And since Christmastime, I keep hearing a voice: “Your work here is done.”

In my heart I also know/feel/sense there is work to be done elsewhere…

Thank you to our readers

I want to say a special thank you to our blog readers who have stuck with us over the last two years, even through we didn’t travel. I’m honored you chose to stay and read about our travel-paused lives. Some readers even made donations for specific causes like the Ati chicken house and other projects. Thank you, again.

And because this is a travel-based blog, I need to mention one more thing about our plans.

It was a bit tricky to get all of our ducks in a row for planning travel to Thailand. The new normal has way more hoops.

I won’t write extensively about the process, since it will likely change soon anyway. But I will point you in the right direction to get the process started. The official Thai government site for the Test & Go Program (which is mandatory at the time of this writing) is here:

Earth Vagabonds are still undecided about where to go after Bangkok. Right now we can only say we will work our way back west.

Stay tuned for future posts on future travels.

Life is Now!

A goat stands on the seat of a scooter in Indonesia with the caption, "Slow travel monthly car payment =$0."

Thanks for reading, “Earth Vagabonds to leave the Philippines.”

Other posts you might enjoy:

From a previous Bangkok trip:

Bangkok boats: how to use them

5 thoughts on “Earth Vagabonds to leave the Philippines”

  1. So happy for you! Your Bangkok apt sounds great. FWIW, we’ve not seen much inflation in Thailand the last 4 mos. Still very few tourists here. Housing for similar places are less than they were 6-7 years ago, sometimes half price. Food is about the same. Fellow nomad friends are looking to go to Nha Trang, Vietnam next & checked out the little hotel we stayed in 5 years ago. It’s half price what we paid back then. Tourism has a long road to recovery all over Asia, being closed so long & now many of their major tourist groups aren’t able to travel. China & Russia in particular.

  2. We took our chances & wintered in Mazatlán after a year off (that is our comfort zone) Coming back to Canada, we prepared for the worst, registering for any and all testing that might be needed, and were blessed to arrive & go through immigration & customs very quickly & smoothly. Our extra costs were the mandatory testing prior to leaving Mexico & our original health/travel insurance to go in the first place. So… if the new normal is testing, $$ out of pocket… never mind the increased prices of just about everything to live… at least life is moving forward again. Enjoy this new leg of your journey. Hugs 🤗

  3. Congratulations on your reset into slow travel! We just pulled the trigger to move to Spain for a year on a Non lucrative visa. I’ve really enjoyed following you throughout your journey in Malay. I’m happy to hear that you’ve been listening to the universe and God giving you the nudge to start your travels again. We can’t wait to hear about your travels to Bangkok and we definitely want to explore that part of the world after our year abroad! Buen suerte!

  4. Vera Silveira

    I am so very happy you are off again. I was getting anxious to see you living your lives again and looking after your health. Things are slowly getting bavk to normal although everything more expensive as you mentioned. God bless and enjoy!!

  5. Thank you for the incredible work you have done while locked down in the Philippines. You were indeed a Godsend to the people you met, especially the Ati’s.
    I know you will continue to enrich and inspire everyone who crosses your path…
    Travel safe, stay healthy…
    Hoping we meet again💞

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