Philippine Travel

How to prepare for STRESS-FREE TRAVEL after the pandemic?

INCLUDES NEW TRAVEL UPDATE FOR 2024 (more below):

After more than two years of being unable to travel back to their home country – the Philippines – many Filipinos living and working overseas decided to book their flights and plan their much-awaited vacation. Excitement fills their hearts as they imagine themselves being able to see their loved ones again. Are you one of them?

If yes, congratulations my friend! I am sure, you are very excited and couldn’t wait for the day you step foot on Philippine soil again.

Is everything ready for your trip? I bet you have already sent your balikbayan boxes ahead of time before your arrival, yay! Are you excited? Or stressed out because we are still in the post-pandemic period?

To help you have a stress-free journey during the pandemic, I have compiled some friendly reminders to help you achieve a stress-free journey back home during this post-pandemic period. I just came back from a 1-month vacation to the Philippines together with my family.

And I can tell you, it is so worth it! Despite all the negative things we hear about others having bad experiences in going home, having an enjoyable time with family back home is still achievable during this So-called post-pandemic era.

My wish is that I can help you go home stress-free. So please feel free to use this travel guide as a friendly reminder and see if you have set everything for your much-awaited trip back home!

Regardless of where you are coming from, here are the top 3 things you should check to have a stress-free journey to the Philippines:

  • VALID PASSPORT
  • PLANE TICKETS
  • TRAVEL DECLARATION (eTravel)

PASSPORTS

First things first – the Passport. Please make sure that your passport has at least a validity of 6 months. Sometimes the validity period seems to be confusing for some, well at least for me.

To have a stress-free journey to the Philippines, or anywhere, one of the most important things to do before you buy your plane tickets, is to check when is the expiration date of your current passport.

For example, if it expires in the same year that you are traveling, make sure to count AT LEAST 6 MONTHS from the date of your RETURN TICKET and NOT from your DEPARTURE DATE.

Why? Because if your passport expires within less than 6 months AFTER your departure date, well for sure, they will let you enter the Philippines, BUT you may encounter some problems and may not be able to pass through immigration on the day of your return flight. Why? Simply because your current passport is not valid for at least 6 months.

This actually happened to us on our recent trip to the Philippines.

One week before our flight, I realized that my Belgian passport, as well as my husband’s passport, would expire in less than 6 months following our departure date.

So to avoid more stressful situations and possible problems with immigration, we decided to make an urgent renewal of passports which costs us 3x more than the normal passport renewal fee.

We could have avoided paying triple for our passport renewal if we had checked its validity ahead of time.

Indeed, planning a stress-free journey is to start right by checking your passport first before booking any plane ticket.

Passports
Make sure to check the validity of your passport to have a stress-free journey!

Unless you are granted dual nationality and you possess two different passports. You can have the option of using one passport going home, and then another passport when coming back. But still, the same rule applies: both passports should have at least 6 months of validity to have a stress-free journey!

PLANE TICKETS

When buying plane tickets to the Philippines please make sure you check out carefully all detail on your connecting flight. Since the Philippines is far away from Europe and the US, going home usually involves having 1 or 2 connecting flights. And depending on the airlines, we, Filipino passengers have the option to choose where to land in the Philippines – either in Manila, in Clark, or in Cebu.

The problem is, sometimes because of excitement, we tend to ignore some important details of our trip. For example, how long is the layover to catch a connecting flight?

For many OFWs, a long layover is fine because we think that this is the best option. After all, it’s cheaper. And who doesn’t like cheap flights, right?

However, if you decide to choose a flight that has a long layover, always keep in mind that it can also mean spending more on food and drinks at the airport while waiting for your next flight.

And you might be tempted to buy at duty-free shops too. Then try to double or triple the expenses if you are traveling as a family. This is inevitable when you have a long layover at the airport.

And I’m sure you will agree that unplanned spending can really cause some stress when traveling. Most likely, the price you think you have saved in choosing a cheaper flight will only be spent unnecessarily at the airport. Plus, instead of gaining more time to be with your loved ones back home a long layover at the airport can actually prolong the much-awaited reunion with them!

Another situation that you may encounter is when passengers realize that their plane heading to the Philippines has to make a detour to drop off other passengers. This can happen for those who choose to land at Clark or Cebu airports.

So to avoid surprises, it is best to check carefully every single detail on your flight itinerary before confirming and paying for it. It is better to be a meticulous passenger rather than a stressed passenger.

TRAVEL DECLARATION (eTravel)

Traveling nowadays can be stressful especially since local governments can quickly change their requirements for people entering their country. And this can cause huge stress on every passenger regardless of where he/she is bound to travel.

UPDATE AS OF JANUARY 2024, you don’t need to show your Vaccination Card when entering the Philippines. However, an Electronic Travel Declaration form (eTravel) is still mandatory. Don’t forget to fill out your electronic travel document (eTravel) online, 36 hrs before you depart for the Philippines.

Word of caution: Fake websites are imitating the government portal for eTravel registration. So be sure to register on the correct portal. Registering for eTravel is free, so if it starts asking you to proceed with payment, you know that its a scam!

We also learned the importance of doing your own research and being regularly updated on the latest travel restrictions and requirements to have a stress-free journey. Be sure to know the latest travel updates up until the day of your flight. DO KNOW YOUR RIGHTS AND ALWAYS INSIST. DON’T LET AIRLINE OFFICERS INTIMIDATE YOU.

In all, we are all looking forward to the time when traveling back home will be as easy as before. But in the meantime, as long as we do our best to prepare in advance, we can still enjoy and have a stress-free journey during the post-pandemic era.

Safe travels!

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