I once experience being in the scenario of traveling for the first time, I feel excited and nervous. I was thinking what if I won’t pass the immigration screening; and if I pass the Philippines Immigration screening, what if I will be sent back home once I arrived in their airport. I heard stories of tourist who were sent back home and it’s heartbreaking. So, I did some research on some airport procedures, and what to expect during the immigration screening which helped me a lot during my first international travel. And to give back, I have listed here some guide and tips for first time Filipino travelers; from planning stage to the day of travel. Hope this will help!
Before booking for your plane tickets, and packing all your things make sure you have the following:
- Valid Passport – Make sure your passport has at least six months’ validity from your planned date of travel. Or if you don’t have passport, you can apply at the Department of Foreign Affairs near you. Doing that, you need to book for an appointment, as walk in applicants are not accommodated. Prepare all the requirements prior to your appointment date. You can check the DFA Website for detailed information.
- Visa. Check if the country that you will be visiting is a visa free or not, since most countries requires a visa before you can enter their country. For Filipinos, several Asian countries allow us to enter in their country for not more than 30 days without having a visa if our purpose of travel is just a visit or a tour. Some countries allowing no visa entry for Filipino tourists are Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Macau, Maldives and more.
- Valid IDs. Valid IDs are government issued IDs like UMID Card, SSS ID, Voters ID, PRC ID and Driver’s License, company IDs and school IDs if you are a student.
Before the travel.
- Travel Insurance. Although we always pray for a safe travel, we still need to secure ourselves by having travel insurance. It might be a bit costly, but it’s more expensive if something happened. There are different insurance companies where you can buy annual travel insurance if you travel a lot.
- Itinerary. List the down the places where you wanted to go or the attractions that you wanted to see. Check on google how you can go to that place and check the easiest way to go from one area to another. For DIY travelers, it’s a necessity to plan ahead and prepare travel itinerary. But if you have a tour guide, you don’t have to worry about this anymore
- Money. Although I’m always saying that we don’t need to have millions of money just to travel, we still need some adequate amount of money that is enough for the trip, plus extra money. Do research on how much you can spend per day, for food, transportation, and accommodation. You can go to places where there are no entrance fees, or if not, check in the internet the fees for attractions and shows requiring an entry fee. With that, you can have an estimate on how much you will need in the travel. But make sure to have extra dollar hidden in your wallet.
- Culture and local laws. Make a Check for their local laws as it could be different from what you are used to. Obey them! In some countries, wearing clothes that shows your skin is forbidden. It’s better to do some research on the country that you are going to visit. Remember that one small mistake might make a huge difference in your trip.
- Learn the language. When travelling, try learning some local phrases which you will need to communicate with the locals. Learn how to say Hello, Thank you, Bathroom/toilet, Entrance, Exit. Don’t forget to always be polite, and friendly, and smile.
- Check the climate. Checking the climate in the country will help you plan for what clothes to bring. Just remember, bring comfortable clothes, more underwear and more socks but pack less because you will never need as much stuff as you thought you did. Normally we need more than 3 pants for 4 days, but once you get there, you can only use 2 pants, because you will soon feel comfortable wearing something more than once.
- Check luggage allowances – You need to be aware that you will be carrying this bag at times, and airlines do have weight limits. If taking multiple flights with different carriers, check ALL the weight limits of your flights so you don’t get caught out.
- Communication. Don’t forget to unlock your phone’s roaming before you go travel out of the country. It is necessary for you to receive messages from home, but replying to their texts and answering their calls may cost you. Subscribing to international roaming promos is also very expensive. And since you will stay in that place for several days, better get a tourist simcard which allows you to call and text your family at home. It’s also a good thing that there are a lot of restaurants, cafés, and shopping malls providing free wifi access. You can use that to call using different apps, such as Skype, Viber or Imo.
- Arrive Early. As a general rule, you will want to arrive at the airport three hours prior to your flights departure time.
- Pay the Travel Tax. Filipinos need to pay travel tax every time they travel outside the country. Before checking in, you have to pay for a travel tax. You can check the amount at the Philippines Consulate Website so you will have an idea of how much you will be paying.
- Check in. Go to your airline check in counter. Prepare your travel documents, such as passport, confirmed booking and valid ID. This is where your luggage will be weighed in. you will be receiving a boarding pass for the flight stating your seat for the flight, and the boarding gate and departure time. You will also receive a baggage receipt if you have a check-in luggage. You can also check in using your airlines’ online service but you still have to go to your airlines check in counter for your luggage check/weigh in or luggage check-in.
- Immigration and Customs. Before you go through the Immigration, you need to fill up a pre-departure form. Once filled out, you need to show your passport, travel ticket and some necessary documents to the immigration official. They will ask few questions about your travel and financial sources; you just have to answer their questions honestly, without joking around, and stick to the point. Once you proved your intention for travel is good, they will scan and stamp your passport. You’re ready to go! Bon Voyage!
- Security Procedures. Before you can go inside the gates, you and your luggage will be placed in a metal detectors and baggage inspection machines. You also is required to remove your shoes before you can go through the scanner.
- Boarding Gate. Once you pass security, immigration and customs, you’ll have a few times to relax while waiting for your boarding time. Food stall, shops, and charging stations are available at the airport.
There you go! I hope I was able to help you in preparation for your big trip. I will soon write a related article about what to expect when you arrive at your destination’s airport. Safe travels!