El Nido, Palwan

There is a saying, that goes “A fool learns from his own mistakes, A wise man learns from the mistakes of others”. Naturally we go through life trying to avoid mistakes. But as they say… S*IT happens. From my myriad of experiences, I ‘d like to share a few basic thoughts on a few tips for every traveller.

This is by no means a definitive list. I have quite a grab bag of tips. I guess I will share them moving forward.

Let’s Get Started.

1) Be prepared. Always have a plan.

Even when you travel without an itinerary or a set destination, always have a plan for when certain situations occur. As Ate Vi once said… “you can never can tell.”

Being prepared also means that you think of “just in case scenarios.” I always make sure I pack “just in case.” I always have some swim wear, flip-flops, a rain jacket, a little umbrella, etc.

2) Be Flexible.

Corollary to #1, even with the best laid out plans, sometimes things do happen. When things don’t happen the way you plan… relax, don’t stress out, and adjust to the situation. If you stress out, it will just ruin your travel plans… just relax and have fun. That is after all the objective of a vacation and trip.

I have had my share of trips which started out bad and ruined my entire trip. Not only for myself, but for my travel mates as well.

If something goes wrong… a mix up with your hotel booking, you forgot your jacket, …whatever it may be. Just take a deep breath, let out a big sigh… and go “oh well” then move on.

3) Have a backup plan

Corollary to #1 and #2. If you are the type that must have a plan, and if you accept the fact that sometimes plans do not work out the way you hope… then be sure to have a backup plan (or 2) just in case. If you run out of backup plans… apply rule #2.

4) When you lock your luggage, make sure you don’t leave the keys inside.

As obvious as it may seem, if you are a disorganized packer, you can accidentally leave your keys in the luggage. To avoid the situation altogether, consider combination locks… but if you do so, be sure not have a combination of 0-0-0.

5) Always have a first-aid kit.

Be prepared. Have an appropriate first-aid kit depending on what your activities will include. Band-aids, pain reliever, etc..

Carabao drawn carriage... Puerto Princesa, Palawan

6) Always bring small change.

If you are traveling around the Philippines, be sure to have los of P20 bills and P5 and P10 coins. Tricycle drivers, Sari Sari Stores, etc. won’t have change for P1000. Having P1 (or smaller) coins could be quite useful, but take up space so my smallest coin is usually P5 which is easy to get change for anyway. I always have a coin purse in my backpack stuffed with coins.

If you are traveling in foreign countries like the US, having some $1 bills and quarters come in handy… Toll, Parking Meters etc.

7) Never forget your chargers

You never know when you go low batt.

Of course this depends on your gadgets. For example, DSLR Batteries can last for months on a single charge meanwhile Cellphone batteries may empty out before the end of a day.

Be sure to bring chargers for every gadget (again, depending on usage).

8) Bring a backup phone.

This might sound a little strange, but if you travel to far-flung areas, you never know what sort of cellphone coverage you are are gonna get. My primary phone is a Globe-plan phone. But in certain areas, you don’t get a Globe signal, having a prepaid Smart phone has helped me out on more than one occasion.

I don’t just bring a second SIM… I have a second phone. I usually pack one of those sub-P1000 phones (I have a Cherry Mobile P1) in my bag with enough load for emergency calls and txt.

On one occasion, when my phone was pick-pocketted while I was in Cebu for Sinulog 2010, it was good I had a spare phone in my bag for a few important phone calls.

Obviously, if you have an emergency phone, make sure you have the phone numbers you need on that phone.

Depending on the situation, a backup for Data might also be important to you. For this, I have prepaid SUN Broadband and SmartBro SIMs to backup my Globe. I have an unlocked WiFi Dongle for this purpose.

9) Have copies and printouts of important documents.

This is where I am extremely OC. I have printouts of hotel reservations, tour vouchers, rental car reservations, and of course airline e-tickets all in a neat plastic folder in my bag. Elsewhere in my bag, I have copies of the same documents in an envelope… just in case. You never know when you will accidentally leave documents behinbd on some counter somewhere as you complete a transaction. This has happened to me on more than one occasion, so I speak from experience.

Recently, I have taken this OCness of mine to a new level, I also have digital scans or PDFs of all documents on my phone as well.

The most important document of course you should have a copy of, and should never lose in the first place… is your passport.

10) Check everything before you leave the house.

This may sound like common sense… I t does not hurt to double check your stuff before you leave. Obviously you make sure you have your tickets, passports (if applicable), underwear, before you leave but sometimes we can forget some things we take for granted.

When I flew to Tacloban, I packed my DSLR and a Point and Shoot camera in my backpack. When I got to the airport, I was going to snap a few photos. When I checked my camera, only then did I realize that I left the battery charging in my house. So I left my DSLR behind and only had my Point and Shoot with me. (Back to rule #2)

Puerto Princesa, Palawan

As I started out by saying, this is by no means a definitive list. I know #7 should just be phrased… “Be sure to bring all your gadgets.” But the act of leaving a charger at home is the most common. And yes, I realize this is so related to #10 as well… which brings me to my last point.

If you look at all the tips I listed above… it all boils down to one… “be prepared.” Nuff said.

Till the next set of tips…