Traveling Abroad for the First Time

I always knew I wasn’t born to stay in one place, thus my constant visit to different airlines’ websites waiting for promo fares. Fortunately, I was able to catch one last February 2013 via Cebu Pacific MNL-HK-MNL roundtrip ticket for 3000php only.

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And while I was excited, I had to consider a lot of things before and after buying the ticket. 

Before buying the ticket, ask the following questions:

  • Which season would I like to go? Always, always consider the weather before going to a place.
  • If I have decided on the month/season, will there be festivals/events during that time? One good example of considering such events is going to Japan around April-May. Cherry Blossoms are in bloom and there are a lot of Sakura festivals around the country.
  • Will my savings be enough? As much as we want to stay in our budget, sometimes, there are situations where we couldn’t help to happen; like being left by my flight, or staying one more night in a hotel because of a natural calamity, or losing my wallet while strolling downtown. One of the best feelings when traveling is the feeling of being secure and not being limited by not having enough.

After considering the points above, I bought the ticket for the four of us and the real planning began. Since it was my first time traveling, I had no idea what to expect.

Things to consider after buying the ticket:

  • Savings – allotted budget for the four-day vacation for the four of us.
  • Tour packages – since Mom was into tour packages, we arranged and paid for it prior to our vacation schedule.
  • What to bring – clothes, shoes, camera, etc
  • Itinerary

Before anything else, checking the passport is a must. Passports should be valid until 6 months after the travel dates. As much as possible, don’t wait for six months before it expires. Renew that freaking ticket-to-the-world before traveling!

I started packing up three days before my trip as I was that excited to finally fly with my family. We went to the airport and checked-in more than two hours before our flight. We didn’t want to be caught in traffic and panic at the airport. We were aiming for a smooth travel.

Upon check-in, pay the travel tax (or you can pay first the travel tax and check-in, whichever works well for you), present your passport in the check-in area and fill in the immigration card.

Things to remember while in immigration:

  • Hand over your passport with the immigration card.
  • Smile and greet the immigration officer.
  • If asked what you are going to do in another country, don’t give them an essay. Keep your answers short and precise; like, “Vacation with family” or “For pleasure/vacation”. If you will be sent by your company abroad, don’t ever say “Work”; you can say “Training”.
  • Always make sure that you know what you are going to do. Some officers ask what you want to see or where you are going to go in a specific country.
  • Do not forget the name of your accommodation and the address, it comes handy when filling up immigration cards or if the officers ask about it.

I have heard various horror stories while passing through immigration. Some people were not even allowed to cross past it. So be alert and have a presence of mind when answering. My first trip was with my family, so I wasn’t asked a lot. But my second trip, I was interviewed in the PH immigration before flying out and after coming back. I was also interviewed briefly in Singapore’s immigration even when I was flying back to the Philippines!

After boarding and getting comfy in the plane after a number of hours, the same process happens. Immigration cards for Hongkong entry are being given inside the plane though so there’s no need to fill up cards on the ground.

Line up again in the immigration and present your passport and immigration card to the Hongkong immigration officers. Nowadays, HK doesn’t stamp passports anymore but they will give a small piece of paper and slip it inside the passports. Hold on to it or staple it as it is needed upon exiting Hongkong. There are strictly no waiting rule.

After the immigration, baggage carousels can then be seen where baggage can be claimed.

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Hongkong Tourism board is where you can get flyers/leaflets and ask for directions. You can also buy an Internet sim or train card from here.

 

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A bus with only the four of us!

Same process when going home, though it’s much ‘lax since if something unfortunate happens while lining up for immigration, you’ll be sure that there’s no way they’re detaining you unless of course you bring drugs and stuffs, but other than that, they’ll be happy to deport you or fly you home.

Any tips for first-timers? 🙂

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