My first out-of-the-country was to Maldives. I came all the way from Naga City to Manila, then to KL. From KL, I flew to Maldives. Believe me, with that interconnecting (not really connecting flights), I have learned enough lessons.
There are just many important things to know like the map, the hotel booking. But I believe these are the essential and basic ones if you plan to make the most out of your trip outside the country.
- Currency. Not all countries exchange pesos to dollars or their local currency. Make sure that you exchange pesos to dollars before leaving the country as USD is one of the widely exchanged currencies.
- Lower Liquid. Terminals only accept minimal amount of liquids (100ml max for Philippines). If you don’t have check in baggage, make sure that you only bring minimal amount by transferring some shampoo and facial wash to smaller bottles, or you can just bring sachets.
- Travel with an extra small bag. The big bag serves as your main bag, and the smaller bag is your carry-anywhere bag. The smaller bag becomes handy when you tour around since you can put your camera here anytime (especially when it rains), your pasalubong, and all your other stuff as it can be tiring to travel around a place.
- Bring 1 extra day of clothes. You will never know what can happen on your trip. You can incidentally decide to dive and swim, or you trip to a pool of mud, or your flight gets rebooked. At least, you have a 1-day buffer of clothes if anything goes wrong.
- Check timezone fly out and landing. The itinerary paper that the airline gives indicates the time, but it will be safer if you fully understand the full implications especially how they refer to time. Is the time based on the timezone of your origin, or is it the local time of your destination? This might be impactful to your schedule. Mind the timezone difference.
- Keep your passport. Your passport will be your ultimate identity outside the country. You might face lots of difficulty in case you lose your passport outside the country. Aside from that, your passport is also used for checking in on hotels outside the country. Keep it. Keep it. Keep it close.
- Give it 2 hours at least. Travelling international takes more airport time than domestic flights. The Immigration queue will take some time (up to 1 hr) so make sure that you give an extra hour earlier than your usual routine of going to the airport.
- Read signs. Not all countries are well-versed in English and it will be difficult to speak with them. Aside from that, other travellers/tourists can also be too busy for their own concerns. Make sure that you read signs to know the entrance and exit of the airport. One way not to get lost is to just ‘follow the flow of the crowd’, but also being fully conscious on where you are headed to. But it’s always fine to ask people.
- Know their customs. Your loud voice, friendly handshake or just an innocent stare at people can be interpreted differently. It is important that you get an idea of the culture of the place that you are heading to and be able to keep your behaviour really apt to the place. You would not want to mess up with the locals.
- Always bring a pen. There will be different forms that you would have to fill out (airport, hotel, restaurant) so make sure you have a pen. When going around the place, you can also use the pen to take note of the path you took so you can easily return to your starting point. The pen can also be your simple tool of self-defense in case somebody attacks you.
- Local sim card for 3G access anywhere. The maps and booking can be easier.
- Extra food (like biscuits). Food outside can be expensive or not just your type. At least, you would always have a safety food with you. And of course, to refuel you anytime.
- (For BPI Holders) Activation of international withdrawal.
- Laundry soap. Yes, you may want to just wash your clothes if you plan to travel light.