It would probably feel like the end of the world when you reach the airport to check-in and then you realize that your passport is left at home or your wallet is nowhere to be found.
Most of the time, I pack my stuff the night or few hours before my flight schedule. Sometimes, I only get only two hours of sleep before heading to the airport. My flights are usually early in the morning because they are cheap. Even if I have limited time to pack I still manage to bring the necessary documents and things. I have a list on which important things to bring and I want to share this with you. I use an app called InkPad Notepad in my Lenovo cellphone and this is where I scribble almost anything like important events, important codes, reminders, things-to-do lists and even what songs to sing during a videoke/karaoke. And no, I don’t consider myself as an OC (wink). You must admit, you also forget the songs you want to sing when you are in the spot, right? All right, enough of the sidetrack back to business.
Here are the things that you cannot afford to forget when you travel outside the country:
1. Passport / Visa – Traveling outside your home country requires you to present a passport. Some countries require you to have a visa. Make sure that there are still enough spaces in your passport for the stamps. Always take note of the expiry date of your passport and your visa. Process them months before the date of your travel so that you won’t have any problem. A firm reminder: you should fix your eyes to anybody who is processing your passport and make sure that the document is handled well. Any alterations or tears can prevent you from leaving the country.
2. Flight details – For domestic/local flights nowadays, you don’t have to print your flight details because the check-in counter will only ask for your ID. For international flights, I suggest that you should have a print out of you flight details especially if you have many connecting flights. The electronic copy is also good but you wouldn’t want to give your phone or tablet to the immigration officer / check-in counter, would you?
3. Hotel reservations – Just like your flight details, it is better to have a paper copy of your hotel reservations. The immigration personnel will inspect this especially if you are traveling as a tourist.
4. Pocket money / credit cards / debit cards – I tell you, there are a lot of surprise expenses when you travel. I am used to being exempted from the travel tax because I am an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) but when I traveled to Scotland for a training I was asked to pay the travel tax which was 1,620 Php. You really need a good amount of cash with you because not all establishments accept credit cards. You must also be guided how much money is allowable during travel. According to The Philippine Consulate General, bringing in and taking out of currencies should not exceed 10,000 USD and not exceed 10,000 if in Philippine peso. Any excess must be declared at the Bureau of Customs Desk in the airport for foreign currencies and at Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas International Department for Philippine currency. Visit the Philippine Consulate General website for more information. It is also a must to bring credit or debit cards. This is useful if you want to purchase something in an airport where you don’t have their local currency. Perhaps, you missed your flight (oh no!), you definitely need a credit card to rebook your flight. A debit card works the same way. I bring two credit cards with me, one is MasterCard and the other one is Visa. You have to have a backup card because not all establishments accept MasterCard or Visa.
5. Government issued Identification card / document – Your professional ID (PRC) and/or a driver’s license is good enough. NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) clearance is also accepted.
6. OEC for OFW’s – This is also called an “exit pass”, without it you cannot go out of the country. I’m very lucky that my company processes my OEC (Overseas Employment Certificate). This document exempts me from the terminal fee and travel tax. Furthermore, you also get a refund of 550 Php if you have this. Isn’t that awesome? I have extra cash to buy me some overpriced airport food, yum!
7. Letter/Certificate of Guarantee or Okay to Board for OFW’s – This document is issued by your company or agency and this should be presented in the check-in counter and the immigration officer. Another important reminder, make sure that all the details in the document is correct especially the flight details and the spelling of your name.
8. Seaman’s book for Seafarers – It is considered a mortal sin if a seaman forgets this. This is needed if you are joining a vessel and in some countries the visa requirement is waived if you present this. You can also get extra luggage weight because of this.
9. Gadgets for communication – Your cellphone and laptop gets you connected with your company and with your loved ones. Nowadays, a cellular phone is considered an extension of our hand, we feel amputated if we go out of the house without it. Really? Furthermore, almost all airports have wifi. Take note though, if you can’t access the wifi with Chrome, try Firefox. I have tried that in Aberdeen, twice. Make sure you have a backup browser before traveling. Some airports only give you 45 minutes of free wifi. If you have an important message to your company, like for example, telling your site liaison officer that the agent who is supposed to get you didn’t arrive (and you are in the middle of nowhere), you have to make that email quick(!) before you get absorbed with FB or Instagram and then suddenly your free wifi is finished. If that happens, you would have to call the office and this leads me to the last item…
10. International Sim Card/Roaming Sim – This comes in handy if ever you get stuck in an airport in the middle of the night where the people around you don’t speak English. There are some airports with some staff who do not speak English, an example is Sao Paulo International Airport in Brazil. With the international sim card, you can easily call your agency. I’m using a Seafarer’s Sim powered by Globe. It works well for me, I’ve used it in Africa and in Europe. The text message only costs 10 US cents. You can buy this in Globe stalls in NAIA or in Mactan International Airport. Another option is to adjust your current sim to roaming but it would be expensive. It’s your choice.
There you go. If I missed an important item, please leave a comment below. When traveling to another country it is also important to know what kind of electric socket they have, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to charge your gadgets. There are many adapters sold in the airport. Another thing, you should also know the current peace and order situation in the country that you are visiting. There are many reliable sites in the net, take note which spots are safe for tourists/foreigners.
There you go, again. Total of 12 items, right? Well, I’ll leave the title of this post as it is. It wouldn’t be nice to put “top 12 things you shouldn’t forget…”, top 10 seems more appealing. Just like the movie, 10 Things I Hate About You. Ooops, now you know which decade I come from. Hope you have learned something. Feel free to share this to your friends and relatives who are traveling soon. Stay safe always and don’t forget to pray during your trips.