The Philippines is a relatively easy travel destination by Southeast Asian standards. English is widely spoken, and the country has an endearing don’t-worry-be-happy vibe, soothing for first-time visitors. Alas, volatile weather and natural disasters can mess up trips in a hurry, while a menu of 7000-plus islands creates itinerary headaches for even the most seasoned travel planners. Increase your chances of a smooth trip by avoiding the following tripwires.

1. Eat local.
Food is always a priority when it comes to travelling. Save a hundred pesos or two by eating at public markets or nearby karinderyas. Don’t be afraid to skip that fine-dining restaurant when you can have what’s really Filipino in a cheap but delicious plate.

2. Travel by group.
Can’t wait to see the hills of Batanes? Or maybe go diving in Siargao? Then save that #soulsearching trip for later and travel with a group. More people means less costs for transportation, food, lodging, and even tour guides. You get to make friends and share memories, too.

3. Watch out for sale flights.
Sale flights are the hottest thing in travelling now. Domestic seats can go as low as P500 and that even includes baggage fee sometimes. Just make sure to keep yourself in the news because these flights do really run out fast.

4. Book the cheapest lodging.
Cheap doesn’t mean bad all the time. Filipinos are known for being hospitable and this reflects in affordable lodging wherever you are in the country. Skip the five-star hotel when there’s a decent hostel just around the corner. You’ll definitely save a lot of cash.

5. Make an itinerary and stick on it.
Plan an itinerary that covers all of your travel’s interest. Have it written per hour and per day because this will really help you setting your budget. Side trips are okay but make sure that they’re free of charge if only possible.