I’m so excited to share that we’re going home exactly a month from now! I knew that I just had to write something about this – like a countdown of some sort. And so, I’ll start by sharing some travel hacks months before going home for vacation.
I have mentally drafted this post for quite some time already and I have been waiting for this day when I can finally post it on my website. So here goes my (personally drafted) pre-travel tips which ANYONE can do MONTHS BEFORE the D-date.
Secure necessary travel documents
This is perhaps the first thing you need to do for any international travel prior to purchasing your plane ticket. Make sure to comply with all entry requirements needed in the countries you will be visiting to avoid getting stuck in border security. Check the validity of your passport, and secure visas, if applicable. Some would even require Electronic Travel Authorization (eTa) to fly or transit in their country.
If you are someone like me who is working overseas with a not-so-powerful passport on-hand, then preparing your document would be extra tedious. You have to make sure that you can go back to your life after the trip – which includes securing a valid permit and visa for re-entry to be allowed.
I haven’t gone home for the past two years – so I think you can understand how ecstatic and relieved I felt when the immigration agent told me that my papers were approved. I had to prepare my application as early as last year since I had to consider the processing times in place. All the waiting got me all stressed out and it was not until the 8th of July where I got the decision. And finally – it’s safe to say that I can really-really-really-really-really go home next month! Ya-hooooo!
Know airline rules
It doesn’t hurt to know more about the airline’s rules and regulations you’ll be flying with. If you’re like my sister and I, you won’t really care much about the airline operator as long as you got the cheapest flight deal in the Internet. Lol!
On a more serious note, we will be traveling with my nephews so we had to consider their needs as much as ours. Kuya will be having his own seat, while Lolong is considered to be traveling as a lap child. You can opt to arrange a seat for the infant, but in our case, we had to go for the cheaper option.
QUICK TRIVIA: Traveling with infant (under 2 years of age), may travel free of charge by letting them sit on an adult’s (at least 14 years of age or older) lap.
This trip is quite personal for us since we will be bringing Mama’s urn. Actually, the purpose of the whole trip is to finally lay Mama’s ashes to rest in her hometown. And so, I had to check again with (every) airline’s regulation on bringing cremated ashes. For readers who might find themselves in similar situation, yes you can travel with cremation urns, provided that you will be bringing them as a carry-on – which leads me to the next travel hack…
Plan your carry-ons and check-in baggages
Make sure to note airline’s rules on carry-ons and check-in luggage.
What is the allowable weight for each carry-on baggage?
How about for each checked-in baggage?
How many checked-in or carry-on baggage is allowed for each person?
This is a no-brainer travel hack when it comes to planning any trip. However, I can still see several instances where people arrange their baggage on the very last minute thus causing delays in check-in counters. It’s annoying actually, and truly a waste of time for everyone. It’s better to double-check your baggage ahead of time and know if you will be paying for excess later on.
Arrange your itinerary
It’s always a good idea to arrange your itinerary ahead of time especially on shorter trips. It does not only save time, but allows you to estimate how much you’ll be spending for the whole trip. Should you need to visit other places, it is better to contact the establishment ahead of time to make necessary arrangements.
In our case, we had to make good use of our 2-week vacation. Our top priority will be to settle all Mama’s affairs back home and the rest of the time, to spend it with the rest of the family. We also have this to-do list to make sure that we won’t be forgetting anything when we get there.
Shop for ‘pasalubongs’ ahead of time
We Filipinos are accustomed to bringing gifts for relatives and close friends every time we go home for a vacation. Since my sister and I are working on a tight budget, we will only be buying such ‘pasalubongs’ to our family – our dad, brother, and sister-in-law.
Some would go extreme when it comes to bringing ‘pasalubongs’. Some would cater one whole luggage just for it. Some might think they have spent quite a fortune for it. Well, yes, but the way to do it – shop waaaaay ahead of time. Aside from maximizing sale seasons, you’re also trying your best NOT to break your bank.
Prepare your credit cards
It is always safer to travel with a credit card/s than bring cold cash with you. However, first thing you MUST know is whether or not your destination country widely accepts such form of payment. When in doubt, it is always safer to keep at least a few cash for emergency purposes.
Another travel hack you can do is to identify the credit card you will be using and notify the bank ahead of time of your travel details. This is to ensure that you won’t have problems swiping your card later on.
Lastly, clear your current debt as much as possible. Why? So your next credit card statement will solely be for purchases made internationally. Plus, you will be much more confident in using it knowing that you have paid all previous transactions using that card. It doesn’t only give you that peace of mind, but also a stress-free way of managing your finances when the trip ends. You don’t want to go broke after, don’t you?
Read current events
I think this is what MOST people fail to do MOST of the time.
What is currently happening in your destination country?
Are you even aware of what’s happening in the different parts of the world?
What do you need to do to (at least) avoid such?
Well, every day we are faced with risks. Even a simple trip to the convenience store do not spare us from possible accidents along the way. What I want to emphasize here is to ALWAYS keep your guard up. How? READ! Know the current situation in your country destination and whether or not travel alerts are imposed in that country.
Despite everything that’s happening around the world, I’m sure this won’t stop us from pursuing our long-awaited trips – unless it’s really not safe to push through it. Right?!!
Gosh! I’m just so excited that it feels like days are getting longer lately which only prolongs my agony of getting into that plane. I can’t wait seeing my family and few of my friends altogether!
TRULY, THERE’S NO OTHER PLACE LIKE HOME.