So you’re traveling to a different country soon? Here are some tips that you may find useful as you embark on your first journey ever outside the Philippines.
- Make sure your Passport is updated and not expiring within the next six months.
If you haven’t renewed your passport yet, read our previous article on the new requirements when renewing passports here.
2. The Departure Card
Secure a copy of the Immigration Form (or Departure Card) at the check-in counter and fill it out. Be ready with the address of the place where you will be staying abroad; if you are staying in a hotel, indicate the complete hotel name and its address.
3. The Travel Tax
Yes, be prepared with cash while you’re at the airport because you will be paying additional fees before you board your plane. Check to make sure that the travel tax has been included in your ticket price already; if this is the case, you no longer need to pay the tax at the airport. If not, check-in first and have the check-in agent verify that the travel tax is not covered by your ticket price. You may then proceed at the travel tax counters and pay a fee of Php1,620 (per traveler). Hold on to your receipt.
4. Checking in.
Simply present the filled out Departure Card and Travel Tax receipt at the check-in counter and wait for the agent to hand you your boarding pass.
You will then be directed to the Immigration Booths where the officers will be asking you about your trip. You may refer to this previous blog for tips on how to breeze your Immigration interview and avoid getting offloaded from your flight.
6. Final security check
You will be asked to remove all metallic items attached to your clothing (including belt buckles, coins, gadgets, and in some cases, even your jewelry and accessories). Word of the wise: avoid wearing too much bling-bling when traveling to save time at security counters.
A friend of mine was wearing a pair of gladiator-type sandals when he went through security check. He was confident that his sandals would pass as it was basically open except for the elaborate strings tied around his legs. Unfortunately, the guards asked him to untie his sandals and walk barefoot through the scanners. He spent about 5 minutes lacing the sandals after security let him through. Again, wear shoes that can be taken on and off without too much hassle.
Also, avoid carrying liquids in your bag like colognes in big bottles, bottled water, alcohol, etc. You might be asked to leave these behind anyway for security reasons.
7. Be early.
Give yourself at least two hours to go through all the verification, interviews, and security checks because it really does take at least two hours to finish all those, sometimes even longer.
8. Keep a checklist of the following and keep these within reach (a messenger bag, one with an easy to open flap, will do the trick):
- Your updated passport
- Travel Itinerary and plane tickets
- Your company ID
- DSWD clearance if you are traveling with a minor who is not your child.
- Hotel addresses, contact numbers, email addresses. If you are staying at a friend’s house, keep a copy of her name, address, and contact numbers too.
- A pen (Don’t use red-inked pens. An immigration officer nearly denied me my boarding pass because I filled out his logbook with a red pen).
9. Exchanging Currencies
You may have your Pesos exchanged right at the NAIA or wait until you land at your destination. It helps that you know how much the exchange rates are before leaving so that you would know where it would be wiser to “buy” money. The safest place to do this though is within airport premises.
10. Ditch the book and enjoy the scene!
Only frequent travelers take reading materials when traveling. If this is your first time out, indulge yourself in the atmosphere of the airport, walk around the lobby while waiting for your flight. Once you have boarded, take as much photos as you can until they ask you to switch off your phone. Don’t waste the moment buried in some magazine.
Enjoy your trip!