Holidaying on a budget needn't be a bad thing. For rich experiences, thriftiness can often pay off, writes Anna Sarjeant.

In December last year I found myself booking a last-minute two-week trip to the Philippines. It wasn't even mildly planned. Within all of three minutes my partner and I had gone from discussing Christmas ham to euphorically punching our card details into an airline website.

Seconds later, looking at each other wide-eyed and mildly panicked, our bank balance was considerably diminished. We had no prearranged accommodation, no transport arrangements, and other than arriving at Cebu Airport in less than 48