You’ve got all your packing sorted, booked your flights, accommodation and are now waiting to get on the trip. Here are some tips you can consider to make your trip worthwhile. This is a continuation of our previous blog post on “Comprehensive travel check-list when preparing for a trip“.
The Travelling Foxes tapped Al Destacamento, a Former Military Officer trained by AFP to give us some important travel tips.
Aside from his military background, Al was also a former Security Risk Officer. He is now a photographer, an explorer and agri-entrepreneur. Al still uses the travel checklist he learned before he travels to new destinations. Here is a comprehensive checklist you should read before arriving in a foreign destination.
- Immigration: Smile and be courteous when interviewed. Always show interest in their country and tell them you want to experience what their tourism has to offer. Btw, for government/ military/ law-enforcement personnel, don’t show your ID and never declare your job unless you have official travel/ mission order/ diplomatic papers if you’re on vacation.. Other Government issued ID would suffice such as BIR, PhilHealth, Postal ID if they require you to show additional ID.
- After immigration, buy a tourist sim with load/ credits that will suffice for a length of your stay in the country you’re visiting. It’s available in all international airports. It’s good communication for tourist guides, contact persons, drivers. Also get portable Wi-Fi equipment with/ or just their telecommunication sims. Never trust the international rates of the Philippine telecommunication system.
- Grab all those maps and tourist activities/ destination brochures that are for free in the airport/ hotel. Transportation route maps are also very helpful unless you want to take a cab always.
- Upon arrival in the hotel/ hostel, ask the front desk if they have available lockers (hostel) or safety deposit box in your room.
- Check the hallway in your room for CCTV and always study the emergency evacuation plan.
- Bartenders, Front Desk Officers, Flight Attendants are sometimes the best source of information and also tour guides and interpreters if they have a break during your length of stay. So try to be courteous or friendly.
- In tours, never be late!!! Mingle and be friendly with the group. Try to assist the elderly when needed. Bring extra portable water for them. Listen and be curious with enthusiasm to your tour guides. If you have different tour guides in the length of your trip, make sure to give them a tip and the souvenir from your country. They always love that.
- Going around, always be the “gray” person. Blend in with the crowd. Avoid being a source of attention especially with law enforcement personnel. Always have a habit of surveying everything around you. Your tourist map is your guide and escape plan guide in case of an untoward incident happens.
- When drinking in bars or festivals, try to be mindful on how much you drink. Always be careful. Don’t get involved in drug and adult-oriented activities. Crime syndicates are always present in these areas looking for perfect innocent tourist victims. Sometimes, it’s a ploy of some corrupt policemen to extort money from you.
- If you have a lot of spare time after the tour, go out alone or with a fellow group member who is as adventurous as you are in exploring the places not included in the tour.
- Explore street food! Just be wary if you have a weak digestive system. It’s worth the budget and experience compared to hotel meals (except for buffet breakfasts which are normally free or part of the package. (It would be good to eat a big breakfast especially for tours that require a lot of physical activity).
- Buy souvenirs for friends that are not available in your country. These items could become the talk of the town (I once brought home a couple of whiskeys with a fermented cobra for my friends. Since then, it’s a good ice breaker for talking about your trip). Just make sure these souvenir items are socially responsible and do not harm any rare species of plants or animals! Small souvenirs such as t-shirts, key chains, fridge magnets, are sometimes overrated. Buy something unique.
- If you have spare days to explore after the tour, try to make some acquaintances out of your tour group. You can get tips from expats and locals you meet, and they can share with you places they have visited that are not part of the tour.
- Try to exchange cards with people you meet. It’s a sign of sincerity and courtesy.
- ALWAYS SMILE AND HAVE FUN! MEET NEW FRIENDS AND POSSIBLE BUSINESS CONTACTS. And who knows, maybe even your romantic/soul partner (lol!).
- LEARN THE CULTURE AND DESTINATION. EXPLORE.
- BE A GOOD HAGGLER AND DON’T CONVERT ANYTHING IN PESO IF YOU GO ON SHOPPING. STICK TO YOUR SHOPPING BUDGET AND DAILY BUDGET. (It takes a lot of discipline by the way to keep away from temptations especially if it’s on sale). KEEP ALL RECEIPTS.
- Make sure you don’t leave anything important behind.
- Ensure that all new items are packaged properly so you won’t be questioned by customs.
- Give enough time before your flight to refund all tax rebates in the airport.
- Exchange small foreign bills to USD/EUD or other currencies that are more widely used.
- Exchange cards with all the people you’ve met. They could be a good source of first hand “A” intel/ contact persons for your next trip especially if it’s their country.
- Be honest with hotel service surveys, leave a calling card and a tip upon checking out.
- Bring home a lot of good memories, videos and photos. You can upload this in the departure lounge of the airport in your social media/ travel blog, etc. WIFI is normally free.
I hope you enjoyed this article! Do you have anything else to suggest? Drop us a comment below!