LIST: Travel Favorites 2017

It’s that time of the year again when people post their #BestNine on Instagram, write essay-ish statements on personal successes and challenges on Facebook, log annual beauty and lifestyle favorites on YouTube or personal websites, and many more. In my case, I’m here to show you my list of favorite travel products and experiences in 2017. 

I started this last year so if you’re interested in seeing that list, click this → #TravelFavorites2016

HERE ARE MY TOP 10 FAVORITES OF #TRAVEL2017

SHEET MASKS

Last year, I shared with you my HG face masks – Sisley Black Rose & Radiant Glow Cream Masks. I love these skin care products so much but I often feel guilty using them a lot since they are pretty expensive. I try to only use these masks when I really need to or during special occasions.

During trips, especially after a long day of activities, sheet masks are more convenient to put on than clay masks. I started to get hooked with sheet masks when my sister and a friend gave me a bunch of them. I’d just open the packet, slap it on my face, and VOILA go to bed! When I wake up, my face feels refreshed! I prefer using moisturizing and brightening ones especially after flights and long tour days.

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Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze Rose Mask (upper right) from BeautyMNL Haul

For that something extra, what I like to do is place the sheet masks beforehand inside a refrigerator (if there is any at our accommodation) for it to cool. When I place the mask before I go to bed, it feels like magic on my face. It’s such a relief without the effort.

I’ve tried lots of sheet masks from Korean brands already and have bought some from Mumuso and SM Department Store as well but my favorite sheet masks are the It’s Real Squeeze rose and strawberry variants from Innisfree.

After a long day during trips, all we want to do is go to bed and a 10 step skincare routine of cleanser – toner – serums – moisturizer – eye cream +++ takes too much time! HAHAHAHA! It’s still advisable to do a proper skin care routine but just for trips, I feel that moisturizing sheet masks are worthy alternatives.

QUAY AUSTRALIA X DESI PERKINS SUNGLASSES

If you follow me on Twitter or my blog’s official Facebook page, you’d know that I’m a big fan of these bestselling sunglasses. I first saw these sunglasses through Jaclyn Hill’s YouTube channel. After a bit of research, I discovered that there is a lot of hype around this product. When I checked out the collaboration, I found myself being a fan of Desi Perkins. She’s one of the most down to earth vloggers out there. No drama, just passion.

I couldn’t bring myself to purchase these sunglasses as I felt that they were too overpriced. I told a friend how curious I was about this and that friend willingly bought me a pair as a gift.

You can find my full review on the pair HERE. If you read the review, you’d know that these sunglasses aren’t a MUST. I would brand them as “VERY NICE THINGS TO HAVE”.

After that first pair, whenever a friend would ask me what gift I wanted for any special occasion, I would always suggest the Quay X Desi Perkins High Keys! I also made my own #YOLO purchase when Quay Australia had a Buy 1 Take 1 deal for Black Friday last Nov 2017. Two High Keys for the price of one! I couldn’t help myself! They’re just so chic and pretty on me! These are definitely one of my guilty pleasures.

Quay x Desi Perkins High Key Gold

Wearing the QuayxDesi Gold/Gold High Keys at El Nido Resorts & Kurobe Alpine Route

When I travel, I just put this on, pop on a nude or red lipstick, and I’m ready to go. I don’t have to worry about my tired looking eyes or panda eyebags! I feel #LIKEAGIRLBOSS when I use these!

If you’re interested in purchasing these sunglasses, you can easily buy online at www.quayaustralia.com! They use DHL as their courier so it’s door to door delivery. No need to go to customs and pay any fees. Zalora Philippines is also a retailer so you can buy Quay Australia on their website but it’s more expensive (+P200 to P500) compared to buying on Quay Australia’s official website.

ROME2RIO

This travel app was in my #TravelFavorites2016 but I’m including it here again. This app is just a travel-god sent! Whenever I start planning and organizing my travel itineraries, this app is ALWAYS in the mix. It’s just a very convenient travel app for me. It helps with the flow of my trip and allows me to maximize my stay by being able to curate the most productive itinerary.

travel-favorites-2016-1

Photo from Google Images

During trips, I don’t like wasting my time and I want to see and experience as much as I can. With this app, it allows me to plan what I can or cannot do in a specific time period given distance and available transport.

Searching for detailed locations is easy to do too as I just need to key in a few words and a bunch of options show up. You can use this for free on your desktop browser at www.rome2rio.com or download the free app!

SPECIAL MENTION: Travel activity online platforms were a big revelation this year especially to DIY travelers. We somehow enjoy the benefits of being in a pre-arranged tour by a travel agency without the professional fees. We get to purchase tickets in advance and even at a discount! There’s less waiting time and we are assured of slots at our preferred travel activities during trips.

Shoutout to brands like KKDay and Klook that help us organize our trips more conveniently. You can also check out BeMyGuest and GoVoyagin

NABANA NO SATO WINTER ILLUMINATION

When I saw THIS ↓ tunnel at Nabana No Sato, I really wanted to cry! 

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Tunnel + Romantic Music + Cold Weather = IYAK! 

It was magical, awe-inspiring, and marvelous!

I even told the other writers in our tour group, “Feel ko pag cross ko nitong tunnel, kasal na ako!” HAHAHAHAHA! PROMISE! If given the chance, I would definitely want to get married here and walk this long tunnel in my beautiful dress.

Jetstar2Nagoya Day 4 (12)

The winter tunnel is just where the magic begins. It continues through other tunnel of lights with different themes, vast light illuminations in the form of a flower field, and a big backdrop of creative lights animation. You’ll definitely have lots of #TITIGMOMENTs.

I really want you to see and experience Nabana no Sato for yourself. I want you to feel what I felt! I want you to be as emotional or as awed as I was!

NABANA NO SATO IS ONE OF THE BEST PLACES I’VE TRAVELED TO IN 2017! THIS ATTRACTION IS DEFINITELY A MUST EXPERIENCE!

Jetstar2Nagoya Day 4 (2)

At Nabana No Sato Begonia Garden (Photo by Gael Hilotin of Pinay Solo Backpacker)

There’s nothing like it. It was the perfect last night during our trip. IBA!

EL NIDO RESORTS

Back in 2015 when my family went on a Palawan trip, I never imagined I would be experiencing El Nido Resorts so soon after passing by it during our Tour A island hopping adventure.

This year, I had my first local familiarization trip when AirSWIFT invited me to their inaugural flight from El Nido to Caticlan. Together with government officials of Caticlan and another travel blogger, we had the chance to experience one of the best and most luxurious resorts in the Philippines for free.

El Nido Resorts with AirSWIFT (33)

We stayed for one night at Lagen Island and was able to tour Miniloc and Entalula island for a day. Everything was gorgeous!

At each site, I couldn’t believe I was there. Gusto ko ng umiyak talaga pero pinigilan ko. I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the group. But I did say repeatedly how happy and excited I was. The luxurious vibe follows you everywhere. It was very overwhelming that I couldn’t fathom my feelings at the time until I sat down and wrote my article for publication.

El Nido Resorts with AirSWIFT (24)

I wrote an in depth review and experience article about my stay at El Nido Resorts. I answered these two questions,

Is El Nido Resorts worth it? & Is El Nido Resorts a must experience destination? Find out my answers HERE!

I will forever be grateful to AirSWIFT for the amazing opportunity. When traveling, I’m not very picky. I can rough it out as a backpacker and all the same, maximize and be grateful for any luxurious experiences that come my way.

ORIBE COTE D’AZUR RESTORATIVE BODY CRÈME

I fell in love with one of the best skin care products I’ve ever tried last year – Aveeno Moisturizing Body Lotion. It was always my go-to product especially when I travel. Moisturizers, I have come to learn, are very important especially when you travel.

But this year, a friend gave this to me as a gift and I immediately fell in love with it too. I do still use Aveeno but when I need that little extra oomph feeling, I use this body crème from Oribe. It’s so indulgent, rich, and creamy. There’s this luxury feel to it. It envelops you in a beautiful scent that lasts for a few hours and does its job of moisturizing your skin.

Oribe Body Creme

Oribe Gold Lust Conditioner & Cote d’Azur Body Creme from Beautylish

During my trips, if I didn’t get to pack any perfume/cologne on, I usually use this. It’s a perfume + moisturizing cream in one! It’s pretty convenient for trips with special events or if you just want to feel #EXTRA.

BUT, a BIG BUT…this product isn’t available locally and it’s not cheap. Just like the Quay x Desi sunglasses, this isn’t a MUST HAVE but a VERY NICE THING TO HAVE. If you want to splurge, this might be a good product for you. If you’re interested in buying, you can purchase the body crème online from Beautylish.

NGONG PING 360 WITH THE #FAMSQUAD

Due to our busy schedules, my family doesn’t spend as much time together as we used to. Oftentimes, there would be 1 or 2 that’s MIA. Our last trip together was January 2016 (Tokyo) and it was overwhelming to be together in that kind of way again last September 2017 (Hong Kong).

Ngong Ping 360 With KLOOK (8)

One of the most memorable moments during that trip was when we were inside a Ngong Ping 360 Crystal Cabin on our way back to the base from Ngong Ping Village and the Big Buddha.

We took photos and laughed a lot! It was a really grateful moment for our family, being that way together. After the trip when I asked them what their favorite part was, everyone included our short but significant moment inside that cable car at Ngong Ping 360.

Ngong Ping 360 With KLOOK (25)

Drifting through the sky and all smiles, the #FamSquad was the happiest.

DAIKANBO VIEWPOINT AT THE KUROBE ALPINE ROUTE

One of the disadvantages, I feel, of being part of a pre-arranged tour group is that sometimes there is only a limited time to spend at a certain attraction or tourist site especially if the itinerary involves a long list of places to go to.

One of the saddest things about it is that at a rare occasion, the one place you wanted to spend the most time at is the one where you spend the least time in.

Jetstar2Nagoya Day 2 Alpine Route (2)

Stepping off the cable car, I knew this site was going to be my favorite. The view at the base was already making me feel overwhelmed. Climbing about 5 to 6 flights of stairs to the viewpoint was well worth it because I was stunned beyond words.

The view was

breathtaking,

overwhelming,

amazing, and

supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

ALL AT THE SAME DAMN TIME.

Jetstar2Nagoya Group (5)

At Daikanbo Viewpoint (Photo from Gretchen Dublin of Filipina Explorer)

Since the viewpoint was a bit small, tourists were cramped up top when we got there. It was like a flow of fish streaming through the bleachers. I heard some of my tour mates say that there were too many people so they took their photos, and went down, a bit of crowd along with them. That was all around 5 minutes.

And I suddenly found myself with just another travel blogger and less people. If my other tour mates could have just waited a bit, they could have experienced the momentary space and appreciated the view more.

Jetstar2Nagoya Day 2 (12)

When our tour guide was signaling for us to go down, I asked him if we could stay for a few more minutes. I couldn’t just stay 5 minutes at this site. I didn’t mind if the others were waiting downstairs, what’s a few more minutes, right?

It deserved more.

The view deserved more of my appreciation and gratitude. After taking a few photos of one of my tour mates, I just stared. I crossed my hands on the railing and just let all the overwhelming feelings in.

I felt like I was in a movie in Switzerland or Mt. Everest. It was one of the most mesmerizing travel experiences I’ve ever had. I could definitely see myself staying there sitting on the bleacher for around an hour or until I couldn’t handle the cold anymore – taking photos, possibly have a picnic, or just have a conversation with someone.

Even though we spent the least time here, it was one of my best favorites during that trip! Interested in visiting this place? READ: Nagoya, Your Gateway to Central Japan

APPLEWOOD ROASTED 42 DAYS PEKING DUCK FROM MOTT 32 (HONG KONG), COLD SOBA NOODLES FROM GOMANGOKU (TOYAMA), & DINNER AT BIZENYA (GUJO HACHIMAN)

Last year, I couldn’t pick just ONE best EAT during my trips. I narrowed it down to TWO: breakfast at Ki Niseko and Tsukiji Fish Market.

This year, I have THREE! Next year, apat na? HAHAHAHA! They all taste sooooo delicious, I couldn’t narrow it down further! I really want to share these THREE!

A Peking Duck that melts in your mouth? OH YES! I was so surprised! Actually, my family was so surprised to have eaten the BEST PEKING DUCK we’ve ever had! We thought we’ve tasted the best when we ate at Greenbelt’s Peking Garden but that duck from Mott 32 in Hong Kong was a revelation!

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It was soft, tasty, and sooooo gooooood! Make sure you book in advance as reservation tends to fill up fast! We had to reserve a month before through email. The duck also has to be requested at least a day before. You can’t order the duck upon arrival.

The next 2 meals I included in this FAVORITES list was part of my Nagoya trip last April 2017.

First, the COLD SOBA NOODLES! This was part of a sit down course meal at Gomangoku in Toyama. This was I think the second to the last item of the list! You’d think I would be full by then, but I couldn’t just taste it and not finish! IT WAS THAT GOOD! Sa sobrang sarap, pinilit ko talaga kainin even though I was on the verge of being full. Noodles were scrumptious, fun to chew, and the sauce complimented it so well. Like what Chandler from F.R.I.E.N.D.S said, it was perfection

Jetstar2Nagoya Day 2 (16)

On the 3rd day of that Nagoya trip, we had another sit down course meal at Bizenya in Gujo Hachiman. I couldn’t pick just one meal out of the list. Everything was divinely delicious!

Jetstar2Nagoya Day 3 (8)

The whole dinner was a gastronomic Japanese food experience. I love Japanese food ever since I was a kid. I thought I knew everything there was to taste when it comes to Japanese food, but THAT dinner takes the cake. SOBRANG SARAP!

#JETSTAR2NAGOYA FAMILIARIZATION TRIP

If you read every item on this list so far, 3 out of 9  leading up to this item was part of the Nagoya trip I had last April 2017 which was also the first international familiarization trip I was invited to. It was sponsored by Jetstar.

That trip was one of the best travel experiences I’ve had – from the sites to the people I interacted with to my personal travel experiences, it was definitely one for the #BESTOFIRENE’sLIFE books.

Jetstar2Nagoya Group (4)

At Magome (Photo from Mish Casal)

I am so grateful to the team of Jetstar and NGP IMC for making it possible for me to experience some firsts and bests! No doubt, this is my MOST FAVORITE of #TRAVEL2017!

SPECIAL FAVORITES

From all the articles I wrote this year, I just wanted to share:   

YOUR FAVORITE – My most viewed article is a Niseko guide I wrote for TripZilla Magazine.

READ: Niseko, Japan: My Powder Snow Experience & Guide

MY FAVORITE – I feel like I lost a bit of spark this year when it comes to #gratefulwriting but I definitely feel that this is the best article I wrote – my #Jetstar2Nagoya experience. Isagad nanatin, diba? Since 4 out of my 10 #Travel2017 favorites involves experiences during this trip, why not mention the article I wrote as a special favorite na din? HAHAHAHA!

Writing this article, I felt like I was reliving it all over again. And I wanted that for my readers as well – to bring them there WITH ME.

READ: Nagoya, Your Gateway to Central Japan

I received a message through email that struck me in all the right places. She told me that she has limited capacity to travel but while reading my articles, she felt like she was there.

“I super love your blog. Feeling ko para na rin ako nasa Japan. I love to travel but due to health constraints medyo limited na. Kaya I enjoy so much reading your travel adventure. Keep it [up] my dear” – VICKY”

And that’s THE GOAL, MY GOAL. To share my travel experiences not only to help in planning your own but also to bring you, immerse you in my own adventures, and most of all, to be grateful with me.

LIFESTYLE FAVORITES

FAVORITE LINE FROM A SONG – “My baby’s fit like a daydream….My baby’s fly like a jet stream…” – Call It What You Want by Taylor Swift

FAVORITE LIP PRODUCT – Pat McGrath Perma Gel Ultra Lip in Suburbia

FAVORITE SCENT – Jo Malone Cologne in English Pear and Freesia

FAVORITE SKIN CARE PRODUCT – Sisley’s Black Rose Cream Mask

FAVORITE BOOKS – Wish You Were Here and Swear On This Life by Renee Carlino

FAVORITE MOVIE – Beauty and the Beast

FAVORITE TV SERIES – The Good Doctor

FAVORITE BLUSH – Becca Beach Tint in Guava

FAVORITE YOUTUBE CHANNEL – Kathleen Lights

FAVORITE QUOTE – Always Be Grateful!

NOTE: My experiences with travel products and services may or may not be the same as yours. With skincare products mentioned, these worked for me. The products MAY or MAY NOT work for or be preferred by you. I highly suggest that you do your own research first or if available, ask for a sample before purchasing full sized items.

WHAT ARE YOUR TRAVEL FAVORITES FOR 2017? #TravelFavorites2017

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