1. Always bring a book. Read a book in the pre-boarding gate. Read a book while waiting for delayed flights. Read a book inside the plane. Reading reduces stress. Reading distracts your mind from the bad plane food and lousy seatmates. When travelling, it is wise to go on high-tech fasting: don’t use your phones (save load and battery – they are needed in case of emergency), open your netbook only if it is really urgent. Do you really need to play the PSP again? Ok, use your iPod, but read while listening to a relaxing music. Choose a good book. Don’t read newspapers and magazines since you can access them online. Don’t read those glossy magazines which lower your self-esteem. Don’t read inflight magazines which entice you to buy non-essential goods. Read a good book. Por pabor: wag naman mga phony self-help books and compilation of pinoy jokes.
2. What to bring. Don’t forget these lifesavers: short umbrella, slippers, light jacket, cap, shorts, hand sanitizers, pen, notebook, Good Morning towels. Pack extra calling cards and political pamphlets. Don’t bring bottled water, snack food, condoms (if you’re married like me). Wear a facemask if you’re sick. Bring only decent underwear. Aba kung ma lost baggage ka, o kaya pag-initan ka sa custom at buksan ang bag mo, di ba nakakahiya kung butas ang brief o panty na dala mo?
3. Airport sanity. Be at the airport on time: one hour before time of departure for local flights and two hours for international flights. For smooth security inspection, keep your coins, phones, belt inside your handcarry bag. Expect long lines at the check-in counter. If you don’t have a check-in bag, proceed to the express lane. If you’re annoyed by the slow moving line, don’t lose your temper by holding on to a happy thought. It’s hassle to be accosted by the airport police. Always smile and hide your anger. Request a window seat for the view or an exit row for more leg room. During boarding time, don’t panic. Don’t join overeager passengers who want to be the first to board the plane. Remember, you won’t lose your seat because you have a seat number.
4. Money. Store the money needed for the taxi fare and terminal fee for your return trip in the hidden pocket of your bag. Don’t buy pasalubong items in the airport. Don’t buy pasalubong on the first day of your travel. Don’t be too excited, marami pang mas mura kang mahahanap. Don’t buy goods which you can already buy in your home city. Do you really need to buy pasalubong for everybody? Exchange your foreign currency at the airport. Sometimes, it is not unwise to buy duty-free products. But don’t buy chocolates. Sa mall ka na lang bumili.
5. No to fastfood. You’re a stranger in a strange city, province, or country. You’re hungry. You’re afraid to eat street food. Then you see McDonalds. What will you do? Don’t ever think about it. Resist! Ask locals for restaurant tips. Do your online homework. Research the recommended local food stores. Enjoy the native delicacies. Eduardo Galeano was right when he described fastfood as a “violation of cooking’s right to self-determination.” Bakit ka nga naman kakain sa Chowking kung may La Paz Batchoy naman sa Iloilo.
6. Don’t be an ignorant and arrogant tourist. Strive to know more about the places you visit. Talk to people. Read the local papers. Get a free copy of the local map. Respect the local traditions. Don’t overdress. Ask permission before taking pictures. And is it really important to take facebookable pictures? Sometimes, the picture-perfect moments are best left in our memories. Keep a travel diary. Explore the countryside. Use public transport.
7. Water transport. If you have a big delegation and you’re going to Visayas or Mindanao, a ship transport is a fun way of travelling. If there is enough time, consider riding a ship. Sea travel allows us to appreciate the archipelagic beauty of the Philippines. Yes, Manila Bay is polluted. But we must not forget that we are surrounded by clean sparkling waters. Visit these natural wonders, visit the islands (hindi lang Boracay ha). But I guess this mode of transport is no longer popular among urbanites like us who need to reach our destination fast so that we can immediately update our facebook status. It’s also unfortunate that maritime disasters often occur in the country.
8. Bus ride. If the ride is 5 hours or more, it is better to take the midnight trip. You can ride a bus to reach Visayas and Mindanao. Try it sometimes. It is a thrilling experience. Are there RoRo bloggers?
9. Railways. It is tragic that I can’t offer some tips on rail travel. How can I do that? We only have the MRT, LRT, and PNR – which are all located in Metro Manila.