There is no place like home. (I couldn’t get more cliche than this) But apparently for me, home is not a location in the map or all the more my birthplace. Home is the feeling I come home to, a retreat sanctuary for my soul. And home is what I call the feeling of getting lost in an anonymous place where nobody knows me. This is why I travel. This is why I strive all my life to see beyond my own origins. But I do have a pet peeve though and that is the connotation that all travellers are just tourists wanting to get a picture,marking the place and showing off to the world without even getting to see (truly) what the place is- how it makes you feel, what its like to live there. I am the latter. I travel to know these things.
This post might seem a little “too out there” and amateur but I just want to write a helpful guide for those of us who are not familiar with the filipino way of traveling for 2 main reasons
- You’re a pinoy who do not reside in the country (aka OFW, non-citizen)
- Your a first-time traveller without any idea of how its going to be.
In that case, this is for you.
I have compiled 12 Things to prepare when travelling and so let’s dive right in:
Ready your card. (In my case cash card)
I maybe ignorant about this but not everyone has a credit card. And in order to be able to carefully budget your travel expenses, you can get a cash card which functions similarly like a credit card only you don’t pay monthly dues nor has it a credit line. It’s just an extension of your debit card which allows you to swipe and buy internationally. You can avail of BPI’s cash card amenities; all you have to do is deposit your cash in it and you can start using anytime, anywhere.
2. Its better to change money with the currency of the place your going to rather than dollars
According to my Bank-manager friend, all in all its way more ideal to change money with the currency of the place your going to rather than dollar for easier access and minimal hassle. As a former ofw, we usually convert money to dollars in order to save and minimize the conversion charge but in actuality the difference is really not worth the long line at the airport or the time spent money-changer scouting.
TIP: make sure to change your money in the nearest bank’s forex exchange branch as opposed to the money changing kiosk.
3. Prepare your documents
Take note: everything in the philippines is paper-based or so the government and most agencies still do prefer. People really really like to do it manually maybe for 2 reasons (so what, I like enumerating) 1. they dont trust online documentations 2. we don’t have that kind of technology (our gov’t can’t invest on those things because they’re busy either corrupting the funds or slipping bullets for extortion) 😛
Its always ideal to have all your documents handy. In fact, it counts as the most important thing that should be in your hand carry. This includes your
–> ticket, (although you can check in online prior to that but just in case)
–>visa (because duh, the most important document depending on your destination)
–>travel insurance (to ensure that whatever happens to you outside of the country you can be reassured that you will be taken cared of. You can purchase it together when buying your plane ticket)
Because the immigration likes to make things spicy for travellers. They will ask questions like what’s your purpose for travelling, how long are you staying, where are you going. This in theory is to make sure that you will go back to your country of origin and that you will not be TNT (in most cases this is a requirement when procuring a visa)
Your hotel address ( point of destination), emergency & contact numbers, passport number (this is really needed when filling up immigration forms, declaration in customs form) is a must have. Trust me, having this data within reach would lessen your stress at the airport. Did no one told you about the nitty-gritty details from airport to airport? Yes its true.
5. Wait for taxi on the taxi stand (don’t take the airport taxi)
This is most cruelly true especially when you’re travelling from NAIA Airport in Manila. Goodness gracious the horror! I will not be stating any negative complain on my blog but the extorsion, the scam and the overpriced (not-basing-on-meter) charge the drivers will offer you is so embarrassing. Filipinos are known to be hospitable, it’s a sad sad thing to reckon in the viewpoint of foreigners.
6. Dont let anyone carry your luggage at the airport
For those innocent lads out there who still believe in the good of every person, I implore you to be vigilant and careful when doing so. Its important to fly light and not bring too many heavy luggages because of a) “laglag-bala” scam b) they are gonna be asking for forced tip c) they might steal your belongings otherwise willfully demand that you give them a portion of your “pasalubongs” all entirely for the reason that they feel ENTITLED to do so. I know right? Another embarrassing story to tell.
7. Cover your luggage
In lieu with all the hocus pocus of BOC scandals and all (and with the government not taking this issue seriously) it would be best to take care of your own fine self and protect you from those scheming plots. Mark your luggage with anything that only you can identify if your stuff has been tampered or not. Do not place too many important things all at the same bag just to be safe.
8. Don’t put your passport on a cover
Because it is useless. The airport personnel will still be asking for your passport to be bare and naked at that. For security reasons and thorough verification process. Just don’t argue pointlessly. Choose your battles wisely.
A dummy guide: always check your country of origin if they will be needing a visa from you or not because it depends from country to country and your nationality.
10. ID for Immigration
They will be asking for valid IDs like company ID or driver’s license. They will also be asking random questions but be sure to stay confident and in control and just answer honestly with a dash of kindness and diplomacy.
11. Terminal fee
Here in Cebu, we pay an amount of P750.00 without any exemptions. Plain and simple.
12. Travel tax
As dumb or maybe unprepared as I can be, I did not know about this! Because ever since I started travelling abroad (I worked in dubai for 6 good years), ofws are always exempted to pay this due to OEC. But if you’re a local travelling not with a working visa, then you have to pay the travel tax. The amount ranges depending on terms and conditions I couldn’t even recall. Just be prepared to pay before you line to baggage check in. Again, you will have to fill up a form for this.
So there you go ladies and gentlemen. I am mainly making this checklist for myself the next time I’m bound to somewhere. As a list-freak as I am, I know it doesn’t hurt to always be prepared with the details. It’s not the devil that is in the detail- it’s the girl scout that is into details 😉