Monday, January 17, 2022

Tips for first-time cross-country travelers

Check-in counter at Dubai International Airport.

I was anxious when I first traveled outside of the Philippines. Since it was my first time, I knew before I could enjoy my relaxing vacation that I would be asked so many (un)reasonable questions by an immigration officer in my home country and in the countries of my destination, which were Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. That I would move from one immigration station to another. And that I would cross from border to border. Whenever I was in line to get through immigration, I would inhale and exhale to release the tension in my body. From there, I would compose myself as I faced the officer inside the booth. So, for every question thrown at me, I would answer each of them truthfully and confidently. I embodied those characteristics until I became a frequent traveler.

From my personal experience ever since I started traveling, crossing from one border to another and then passing through immigration can be nerve-wracking and stressful sometimes, especially if you lie about the purpose of your trip. It was a good thing for me that the purpose of my travels was (and is) always for leisure and tourism. In fact, I have seen many travelers being offloaded and experiencing airport-to-airport travel because the purpose of their trips was not genuine; verily, they traveled not for leisure but to seek work. As a result, this type of traveler was deported back to their origins. Immigration officers take their job seriously and are very strict in protecting their borders. If you lied to them, you sure would regret it for the rest of your life. Lying is one of the grounds for a traveler to get offloaded.

As a frequent traveler and a travel blogger, I have gained travel tips to avoid these dilemmas for first-time cross-country travelers that are essential and significant for smooth and hassle-free trips.

Prepare and secure important travel documents at all times

Always keep vital travel documents, such as plane tickets, passports, immigration cards, vaccination cards, visas, itineraries, insurance, and hotel reservations, on hand. Put them all at once in a travel organizer. These documents will keep you out of trouble as long as you have them on hand. You also have to have extra copies in your luggage, hand carry baggage, and body bag just in case one of them goes missing. Having extra copies of important documents is really a no-brainer tip because you should know it by heart, whether you are a first-timer or an experienced traveler.

Be confident, truthful, and courteous

For travelers, it is an unavoidable ordeal to face immigration officers, particularly if you travel internationally. You have to pass through immigration before you are admitted to a country. In order to do that, I highly suggest that you have to be calm like the sea. You have to prepare yourself to answer questions. In answering, be direct, concise, and straightforward. Don't speak too much, don't talk too little, just give the right amount of response to fulfill their satisfaction. As courtesy, look into the eyes of the immigration officer to show genuiness and sincerity. If the immigration officer asks you the purpose of your trip, answer them truthfully; no lies, no bullshit, just provide them with the truth and nothing but the truth. Like for example, if the officer asks you what the purpose of your travel to British Columbia is, you can answer politely that you are looking for real estate for sale in Whistler. Showing confidence, truthfulness, and courtesy will surely get you past the border.

Research the cultures of the countries you intend to visit

It is important to know the culture of the country you intend to cross the border into to not offend its people. Knowing their culture demonstrates respect for the country and its citizen. It helps you to practice doing the do’s and avoid doing the dont’s. To quote Michelle C, “recognizing cultural differences is the first step toward understanding and appreciating people from different cultures.” And yet, spotting these differences is difficult to discover on your own. So it is necessary to read, widen your understanding of the world, and be appreciative of different cultures and traditions of every country you intend to set foot on.

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