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Managing Expectations

Juana Managing Expectations

Through trial and error I have come to learn the key to a good adventure is: low expectations. If you have low expectations, then you can always be pleasantly surprised. I know this may sound funny but if a whole country like Denmark can do it year after year then perhaps there is something we can learn from them.


One of our first beach getaways was a disappointment. We paid what I already felt was a high price only to arrive at a mediocre hotel. I am talking sand still left in the shower from the previous guest, pictures literally screwed into the walls, and a rocky beach that didn’t look anything like the pristine beaches the Philippines is known for. From this experience and a handful of others I learned that (Instagram is a liar and) to set my expectations low to ensure that I will always be pleasantly surprised.


One of the best mornings I have had with my kids was playing in a public pool overlooking a waterfall in Antipolo. Admission was free, it was a weekday morning and I didn’t expect it to be as awesome as it was. I have learned that expectations play a large role in happiness.


Here are a few tips to manage expectations during your next adventure…


Traffic – If you have lived in Manila for half a day you know she doesn’t mess around when it comes to traffic. She will chew you up and spit you out. Always add at least an hour to any trip if you are going across town. Add two hours for any drive to the province. This fixes in time for regular traffic, roadblocks and other unforeseen events. If you are really brave (or foolish) and travel during a holiday, add even more time to your drive. Adding in extra time gives you wiggle room to explore but also to exceed travel time expectations and arrive at your destination happily.


Price – This tip can flux depending on if it is a hotel or experience. For hotels, find a price you are comfortable with and stick within that budget. If you can’t find a hotel that looks appealing always search for Airbnb. I find that Airbnb’s are more true to their value than hotels are. For experiences, anything under 500php can be a bargain so have a mindset of very low expectations and you will always win.


Cleanliness – Depending on the price you pay often depends on the cleanliness, especially that of a bathroom. Any bargain place I visit that has nice bathrooms is considered a win in my book. Don’t expect pristine grounds if the entrance fee is only 100php or even free. This allows you to be pleasantly surprised or at least not bummed out. If the grounds are clean and the entrance fee was only 100php I feel pretty kilig about my day.


Crowds – If you travel on a holiday, you are asking for it. Set your expectations accordingly. Some of the best adventures I have ever had are just a visit to a simple park, pool or museum with no one around. This really enhanced the experience as it felt like our own personal tour. I suggest visits to popular places on weekday mornings if possible. Also, if you don’t like crowds never go to the mall on a Sunday.


Weather – Plan trips around the seasons. While we are super lucky to live in an endless summer in the Pilipinas, when the real summer hits, it is almost too hot to go outside. Plan indoor activities or out of country trips during the summer to avoid the mainit. Watch out for typhoon season and predicted storms. And always always visit Baguio in February for the best cool temps ever. When you plan for inclement weather you will always be prepared for the rain and lightly or lucky that you dodged poor weather.


With all these considerations I hope we can be like the Danes and be pleasantly surprised on our next adventure.



Amber Folkman is a transplant from Seattle and calls Manila home. Being here long term, Amber has settled with her husband and have grown their family with three boys. Amber has made it a personal mission to get everyone to thrive in Manila by sharing her positive perspective through Instagram and her blog, amommabroad.com.

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