I’ve always been a paranoid person. I always make sure that everything goes well therefore I would rather over prepare than under prepare. So, here are some tips on how to prepare for your trip abroad.
- Always check the Expiration date of your passport
I heard a lot of horror stories about people not being able to board their flights or book a ticket online because of the expiration of their passports. Always remember that your passport should be valid for at least 6 MONTHS. Do not rely on the expiration date on your passport because it makes you think that, “Hey it will expire on ___ date therefore I can still travel.” But no. if for example your passport expires on June 31 and you are leaving on March, they will not make you leave. Some say that it depends on the country but I would rather be safe and renew it right away.
For renewal, I suggest that you visit Robinson’s Galleria, Sm Megamall, and etc. because it’s more convenient. If there isn’t any schedule anymore online, you can call them and ask if it’s possible to have an earlier date.
- You didn’t book your tickets with your credit card? Always prepare your Credit Card documents such as an authorization letter, photocopy of CC and ID of cardholder, and etc. OR BOOK WITH YOUR OWN CREDIT CARD.
I’d like to share a story about my mom’s trip abroad. Obviously, she didn’t use her CC to book her trip because she had a travel agent to do that for her. She shared that when she was checking in (DELTA Airlines) the lady asked her if she was the cardholder or if she had the card. She replied that her office booked the trip for her therefore she didn’t have it. Because of this, she had to pay 700 USD for another ticket. Fortunately, she got a refund for the other trip booked.
Save yourself the hassle and RESEARCH ABOUT THE TERMS OF THE AIRLINES. With Philippine Airlines, they require a photocopy of the credit card and the ID of the cardholder while some don’t even ask for it. I’m flying with Singapore Airlines soon and I read that if the cardholder is not part of the traveling party, then they will not allow you to board the flight. They also have a policy that they do not allow a Xeroxed copy of the CC used because that is counted as fraud. It really depends on the airlines. Just be prepared. Call them and tell them the situation especially if the person who booked for you is from a different country. I’m sure they have a procedure for that.
- Bring other supporting documents such as Company ID, Certificate of Employment, Hotel booking, and etc. DO NOT FORGET TO BOOK FOR YOUR RETURN TICKET!
I also heard that even if Filipinos do not need a visa for other countries, some get offloaded. I completely understand that human trafficking is rampant these days. The reason why immigration officers are strict is because they want to make sure that people don’t overstay or do anything illegal overseas.
Some immigration officers require you to present a company ID and always ask about your nature of work. When I went to HK last November 2014, I had to check in alone. I had to fill up a form as well and pass immigration. Since I’m under the training department, I wrote in my form that I was a trainer because my job title was too long.
The officer was really intimidating. She asked what my job was and I where I worked. She even asked me what I exactly do as a trainer. So I explained but she told me to write my full job title even if it didn’t fit. Lastly, she asked what countries I visited but because my passport was new, it didn’t have my old Australian visa.
To be honest, I was nervous when she was interrogating me but thank God she let me pass. Look decent and be confident. NEVER LIE. I heard a lot of horror stories that people don’t get to leave because they are unemployed. So, if you’re planning to just really go on a vacation YOU NEED A RETURN TICKET. It’s very important that you have one because you will look sketchy if you don’t.
- Bring Extra cash for Travel Tax and terminal fee
Some airlines have a way of making it seem that the ticket that you purchase is cheap but you may not realize that the travel tax and terminal fee is excluded from this. So for example you bought a ticket from a budget airline going to Cambodia for P 4,500. Yes it really is cheap but do not forget the additional 1620 and the 550 terminal fee. So that’s 6670 pesos in all. It’s affordable than other airlines but make sure that you keep this in mind when booking a promo fare.
- Read different blogs for an itinerary and to know the cost of tours, hotels, etc.
THANK GOD FOR THE INTERNET! A lot of travelers have been writing about their experiences and most of them are really detailed. Try to read as much as you can and list down the things that you want to do. Some of them even have a breakdown of the cost. It’s good to know how much you’re really supposed to bring because it’s unsafe to bring a lot of cash. Why bring a lot of cash if you won’t use it?
- Using your credit card abroad? Call your credit card company A WEEK before you leave.
I tried calling my credit card company a month before but they could not process my request. The operator specifically told me to only call a week before. Some credit card companies allow you to use your card abroad even if you do not call them. But it’s better to make a call because sometimes they can block your card abroad. Imagine if you didn’t bring enough cash? That would be more of a hassle!
- Planning on checking in luggage? It’s better to pay for it when you book online rather than paying for it when you check in the airport.
I heard a lot of horror stories with this one as well. My colleague booked a ticket online with Jetstar and he didn’t click the “add check in baggage” which costs P1500 (15kg). Apparently when he called, he was told that he could pay the same amount in the airport. BUT NO. IT DID NOT HAPPEN! They charged him per kilo and instead of just paying P1500, he ended up paying P20,000. Always remember that if you plan to check in maletas and other items, it’s better to be prepared and pay for it beforehand. PLUS! LABEL IT PROPERLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! PUT YOUR NAME, ADDRESS, AND CONTACT NUMBER.
- Pack light
If you don’t really need to check in anything, don’t. If I can survive with 7kg in 5 days then so can you. I’ve heard stories regarding lost baggage and it’s really a hassle. If you really need to check in a maleta, make sure you have some clothes in your hand carry.
9. Make a Checklist
You need to recall everything you prepared by making a checklist. Double check when you start packing because you might forget some important items.
10. RELAX and PRAY
Once you have done your preparations, lift it all up to God and pray that everything goes well. Do not worry about anything especially if you know that you have done everything from your end. Be Calm and YOLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I plan to leave for Singapore in a week and I have done all of these to prepare for my trip. I’m hoping everything goes well! I will update this as much as I can. Anyway, if you have queries, feel free to leave a comment.