Travel Tips For First Time Travellers Abroad

Last December, I went to Singapore with my sister and my brother. During the immigration interview in Changi Airport, I was thoroughly examined by the Singaporean Immigration Officer. He was eyeing me suspiciously and even asked me to tuck my hair between my ears, maybe to check if I were the same person on my passport. I was asked a few questions, demanded more documents to support my answers, and he thoroughly checked the credibility of each document before he gave my passport a stamp!

I was standing in front of him for 10-12 minutes, trying to keep my cool as I watched my siblings waiting for me to get done. Their interviews only took 1 minute- UGH.

Immigration officers are trained to intimidate, but you shouldn’t be scared of them. They practically are just doing their job, so if you are stopped or are asked a few questions or to provide more documents, these are the things you need to remember:

  • don’t panic
  • just give them straightforward answers, no explanations needed- unless asked
  • prepare your travel documents
  • be polite, never ever give rude remarks. 

That experience in Changi Airport is the inspiration of this post. This will answer below’s inquiries.

What are the fees you need to pay?

Immigration travel requirements.

Is it better to change currency at home country or to the country of destination?

Is it better to book online?

How about transportation?

What are the fees you need to pay?

Fees:

Terminal Fee: Php 750.00

Travel Tax: Php 1620.00/adult and Php 825/child

Note:

US Nationals and Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders) are exempt from the Philippine Travel Tax. US Permanent Residents need to secure a Travel Tax Exemption Certificate from the Philippine Tourism Authority at the Department of Tourism Building at TM Kalaw Street, Ermita Manila.

Bureau of Immigration Travel Requirements

  1. Your Passport with required visas

    • This is very important.  Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months from start of the trip.
    • Passport must still be in good condition. So any signs of tear or damage, you must have it replaced. (Requirements for damaged or lost passport. )
    • Apply for visas prior to your trip. This must be presented if the country you’re visiting is requiring it.
  2. Plane tickets 

    • Have your round-trip itinerary be printed in advance (the airline company won’t mind if you request to have it printed).  Immigration will ask for it to make sure you are returning to your home country.
  3. Hotel Address/Address of the place where you will be staying

    • if you’re staying in a hotel, you can show them the email confirmation from the hotel with  these details: full address, contact numbers, and duration of stay.
    • if you’re staying with friends or relatives- a letter of invitation from them which states the following: relationship, duration of stay, telephone numbers, and  copy of ID of your friend/relative.
  4. Proof of employment

    • Company ID

Tips for first time travellers. 🙂

  1. Is it better to change currency at home country or to the country of destination?

    • From our  experience, you should buy enough currency from home country that would last you the first day, something you could use for transportation costs or meals when you get to your destination.
    • Buy US Dollars, you will be surprised the difference of exchange rates, and how much you can save up!
    • ATM’s and Credit Cards
      • Use your credit cards if you have, as these have the lowest spread (or none), and typically using major credit cards there is no extra commission. This is the preferred option when you’re traveling in developed countries.
      • ATM withdrawal- If you opt to use your ATM, you must have it activated first before you can use it abroad. ATM usually has decent spread,  however, you must do your research if  ATM’s from your country destination is accepting your cards. And there’s a fixed transaction fee per withdrawal, so it’s important to note to withdraw larger amounts. 🙂  (BPI ATM and CCMBTC Cards)
      • Local money exchange- we tried it once, and is our least favorite, but still if you run out of money and there was no ATM available nearby, this is a practical option.
  2. Is it better to book online?
    • YES! You can save big time by booking online.  We usually use Klook- they give great offers, we couldn’t complain. However, explore all available travel apps, do your research, and always compare.  (21 Best Damn Travel Apps for Backpackers)
  3. Should you get travel insurance?
    • YES! This should be a big YES. You will be travelling to a new habitat-everything will be new to you- so this will come in handy, and, duh, inexpensive.  Travel insurance covers  medical evacuation, and it also provides protection in cases against trip cancellation and interruption. (More benefits of getting a travel insurance.)
  4. How about transportation?
    • This one is very tricky- while we were in Malaysia and Singapore, we greatly enjoy the power of  “Grab-a-car and Grab-a-taxi”, however, when we get to Bangkok, it’s the opposite. Traffic is crazy in Bangkok, so  it’s going to be useless. My advice will be, take advantage of the public transportation as much as possible. Know the train schedules, take water taxis (if available), cabs, motorbikes (I tried this in Thailand, and had great fun!). There’s an app that is widely used by travellers called Rome2Rio, this app is a life-saver, trust me!
  5. Any tips on accommodation?
    • This one is easy- Airbnb’s  like a cake baked in BOCAS Patisserie– you’d find great places to stay without breaking your bank.  Most of my friends use this app when booking accomodation, especially for big groups!
  6. Travel Group Pages – mostly on Facebook.
    • There are lots travel group pages on facebook- and be a member. I am an active member, myself ,to these pages: Backpackers of the Philippines and Climber, and I am able make new friends. You don’t need to pay for anything to get the membership. Most members of these groups are travellers (like you), and travel agency owners- all over the world! So when you need help, a sample itinerary for a specific country, duration of travel and tips- you can post it there, and these people will help you! They’d suggest you activities to do, links of sample itineraries, who to contact when you get there, where to find great food- and plus, they can help you with accommodation! You can also make plans travelling with them-but ofcourse, plan at your own risk.

You’re welcome!!!:)

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