I can cram in school, and still wing it and get a stunning 4.0. However, I don’t like cramming when I travel. I would like to consider myself being prepared before I go to the airport and board the plane, so I could avoid any mishaps during my trip. So to help you, fellow travelers, here is a list of all the things that I prepare for my travel bag the night before I fly abroad.
Valid Filipino passport and Visa (if applicable)
Yes, I understand how challenging it is to renew your passport nowadays, but there is no other way, girlfriend! My advice: don’t wait until the last 6 months of your current passport, only to realize that you’ve booked a non-transferrable, non-cancellable plane ticket. Renew as early as you can! Plus, with an expired passport, you can’t really take advantage of those seat sales and such because it’s quite challenging to guess when you’d be able to travel again.
Just print a copy of your airline confirmation form or take a screenshot on your phone! The lines at the check-in counters may be quite long, especially during summer and other peak seasons. Take advantage of the free online web check-ins so you could skip the lines and just drop your bags. From what I’ve heard, sometimes, the airlines assign you better seats by checking-in online.
Pre-booked Discounted Tours / Others
When I went to Nami Island, South Korea, during the winter, I saw about 50 people lining up for a bus - out and freezing in the cold. I assumed that they might probably have done a DIY tour instead. And, I realized, I don't want to experience that. Since then, I've been booking my discounted tours and tickets from Klook for 4 years now. Doing this has enabled me to travel with ease as I just need to book those tickets before my flight, save a screenshot of their confirmation e-mail in my phone, and present a copy to the ticket booth. THAT EASY. Start traveling comfortably by signing-up here now.
Pre-filled out Departure Forms
As much as possible, I like to be efficient when I travel. Seriously, no one likes waiting for so long in the check-in lines and looking for pens and your passport number in public. So, take my advice – get around a year’s supply of those departure forms and fill these out at home.
Phone Applications and Screenshots
Almost everyone nowadays has smartphones. Save the environment by not printing all your airline confirmation forms, passport bio-page, accommodation and bookings, and tour tickets. Simply take a screenshot of the forms and save it on your phone. It’s more convenient and environment-friendly. Make sure to also download Google Maps to be able to navigate through the train systems.
Assuming that you’ve taken my advice of hoarding the departure forms, please, still bring a writing pen. Of course, you don’t want to embarrass yourself and ask a cutie beside you for a pen, just to fill-out your country of destination’s arrival forms. Be a girl scout, and bring a pen!
Php 2,000, Destination Country’s Local Currency, and Extra US Dollars
If you will not be paying for your travel taxes online, prepare Php 2,000 cash on hand for the travel tax/transportation going in and out of NAIA. You don’t want to be caught off guarded when all of a sudden, your credit or debit card does not work.
If the rates are good here, go ahead and exchange your destination country’s local currency. Otherwise, still try to have a few dollars (equivalent to Php 1,000-2,000) exchanged before you fly, so just in case you take a red-eye flight and arrive with no money exchangers open, you could still travel to your accommodation and survive the next morning.
Of course, there are instances that just when we thought that our money is enough – it may never be enough. It still pays off to bring extra $100-200 to get you going. US Dollars is the global currency that may be exchanged in almost all money exchangers worldwide.
PS: It's the age of modern technology, don’t be afraid to use your credit or debit card. It is handy despite the minimal (foreign exchange) charges. Just make sure to contact your bank and give them a heads up that you'll be traveling abroad, so your card would not be blocked from international transactions. Normally, I don't really call, and I can still use all my credit cards abroad.
Platinum Credit Card
Who says that you cannot access the airport lounge when you book for a budget economy airline ticket! I shall make a separate blog entry on which Platinum Credit Card you should avail, but in general, YES, YOU CAN FEEL LIKE FLYING BUSINESS CLASS even if you’re technically in Economy.
Since I was once a banker, I have a couple of (no annual fees for life) Platinum Credit Cards - Citi’s Platinum Miles Credit Card, UnionBank’s Cebu Pacific Platinum Card, HSBC’s Platinum Credit Card, etc. Except for PAL (because I have never been bumped to the Business Class randomly yet), I have always been enjoying the airport lounges for free. Plus, sometimes, the card can also offer you a 5kg extra baggage or a free round-trip ticket from your accumulated miles or credit card points!
Country of Destination (Transportation Cards)
Keep your purchased international transportation cards (i.e. Octopus, EZLink, T-Money, Pasmo, Metrocard, etc.) because this will save you time and money the next time you visit that country again. Unless you are 100% sure that you will not be coming back to a particular country, don’t be swayed by the fact that you could earn back your deposit from returning your purchased card. Just bring home the card and use it in the future. Just be mindful of the validity of the cards!
To ensure a hassle-free travel, you may also want to consider bringing these things inside your travel handbag:
Powerbank, Phone Charges Empty Water Bottle, Hand Sanitizer and Sprays, Chewing Gum/Candies, Wet Wipes/Tissue, Medicine, and Identification Cards.
Lastly, you may want to consider being environmental-friendly during your next travel by bringing your own set of utensils and straw. Be a green traveler!
Follow my advice, be prepared, and travel like a pro! Enjoy your trip!