Traveling abroad sounds so much fun right? Nakaka-excite isipin all the places you’ll visit, the food and you look forward to the IG worthy photos you’re going to capture. And para naman sa katulad ko na isang working mom, naka-excite din isipin that finally you can enjoy a few weeks or days off from work. Pero while excited ka, you can’t stop thinking at the back of your mind about the horror stories of having denied entry to your destination country, being offloaded and worst case, yung nakikita mo sa TV na you’ll get arrested for bringing something illegal. So for this post, we’re going to give you some tips and reminders based on our experience and some stuff we read from various sources too.
1. Make sure your passport is valid for 6 months before your departure date. Unfortunately guys, they’re very strict about this. In fact some check-in counters will not allow you to check in if you have this problem. So sample lang, Xavy’s passpord is valid until July 20, 2023. So he basically cannot travel out of the country on or after January 20, 2023 which is 6 months before his passport expires. DFA will allow you to renew your passport as early as 10 months before it expires.
2. Prepare all necessary documents. So madalas na tanong is ano ba kailangan mong dalhin or e-present sa IO (Immigration Officer) and when checking in. So here’s a long list of documents you need to prepare (ika nga mas mabuti na yung complete kesa naman ma-offload ka pa):
- Flight itinerary – carry na yung sa arline app sa phone or maski soft copy. Make sure you have a return itinerary, nakakaduda kasi pag wala kang return flight.
- Passports – when you present your passport sa IO, make sure you remove the cover and make sure presentable o maganda naman yung hitsura nga passport mo
- IDs – Company ID should support the fact that may babalikan ka pang trabaho sa Pinas so less chances na mag-TNT ka sa bansa nila. Sa case naman ni Xavy, I had to bring his school ID to prove that he was enrolled in school.
- Hard copy of your e-visa – in cases that you have an e-visa, although IOs would have this in the their system already, it’s always good to have a printed copy with you.
- Proof of accommodation – so where are you staying? Make sure you have a copy of your hotel booking. Baka naman isipin nila na pagala-gala ka lang sa kalye no, for sure offload na yan.
- Letter of invitation – if you’re staying with family or friends, print a copy of the letter of invitation. Kung hinihingi pa to ng IO, parang nakakaduda ka na talaga tingnan. Sa case namin, I even forgot to bring a hard copy of this but I had a soft copy in my phone.
- Proof of financial capability – not all IO will ask this, only when they suspect that you’re not financially capable of expensing your stay. So you can present your debit and credit cards but do so when only asked. If a family or friend sponsored your trip, they need to give you a proof of financial capacity. If you have your own business, have a copy of your business registration. If you’re employed, BIR’s ITR should do the trick.
- Approved vacation leave – for those employed, make sure you get a copy from your HR. Some IOs will not ask for this but in any case, this is proof that you got a job waiting for you and you have no intention of overstaying in their country. If you’re a government employee, you need a Travel Authority. Here’s an article from PhilNewPH on how to apply for a travel authority online.
- PSA issued birth certificate – ito nanigurado lang talaga ako coz I was traveling with a minor who I do not share the same last name. I just had to make sure I had proof that Xavy was really my son. Baka akalain nila trafficking na ako, patay!
3. Get a travel insurance. I know very few of us would do this thinking this is just an additional cost. I encouraged you to change that belief and get a travel insurance. You can never be too careful you know. What if for some fucked up reason you did get into an accident? Would you rather pay tens of thousands of hospital bills in a foreign country than pay a few thousands for a travel insurance? Be safe guys.
4. Be at the airport on time. The rule is for domestic flights, you should be at the airport 2 hours before your departure. For international flights, be there 3-4 hours before the departure time. Pwede ka naman matulog sa airport while waiting for the gate to open.
5. Check in and boarding. Most of the time you can check in online and if you did, make sure you have a copy of your boarding pass ready. If you’re traveling with a minor though, you cannot check in online. Familiarize yourself with your boarding gate and time, memorize it if you need to. Note that you have to go through immigration which could take hours if you’re not lucky.
6. Luggage. Check your baggage restrictions and make sure you don’t go beyond the limit. Excess baggage fees are really high and you don’t want to be re-arranging your stuff right in the middle of the check-in area. By the way, laptops should be in your carry-on. If you’re bringing Filipino food for your family and friends, please read the destination country’s restrictions on food. Generally you’re not allowed to bring meat, fish, dairy and uncooked/unprocessed food. Watch over your luggage and never ever touch other people’s luggage, you don’t know what’s in their luggage and wouldn’t want to get caught with it if it contains something illegal. Actually nung tiningnan ng border control sa Manila yung luggage namin, natuwa sya kasi organized, ayun wala na syang ibang tanong pa.
7. Bring a pen! And write legibly. You need to fill-out stuff so make sure you have one with you. You don’t wanna be borrowing one from a stranger who barely knows how to speak English. Use the font Arial on your departure cards. Just kidding! Make sure your handwriting is legible is IOs will need to read them. Kung pangit yung pagkasulat mo at na-irita yung IO baka e-secondary inspection ka pa. Buti na yung safe than sorry. Make sure honest ka sa mga forms, lalo na yung checklist for the border control.
8. Relax. Be confident and polite. Answer truthfully. Ito yung tips when talking to the IOs. Remember they’re also just people trying to protect their country from bad guys. They’re also just human doing their job. Smile and say hi. Normally naman the questions are yes or no questions. Or they could ask where and how long are you staying. One time I got asked for my sister’s phone number which I didn’t memorize and when I told the IO I have to get the info from my phone, she just said it’s okay. If you’re traveling with a group, it’s also good to go to through immigration together.
So that’s it guys, those are the basic tips we can give you. From our experience, it’s been smooth. We’ve always been just breezing through IOs and border control. When we went to Australia, I knew I had a few things in our luggage that the border control guy would throw in the trash. But thank goodness we weren’t even asked to open our bags.
Hopefully this post will help you feel confident and prepared for your travel. Safe travels!