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Protecting Yourself When On Vacation

In light of the recent tragic case of racial profiling, discrimination and harassment of Filipinas Chyng Reyes and Dyan Sapaden in Bali, Indonesia, there seems to be a need for information on how a Filipino traveler can protect himself when traveling to foreign countries. Thus, we present to you the basics of traveling to other countries.

We definitely encourage you to be obsessive-compulsive in this matter: While nobody got hurt being more detailed and OC about their documents and their travel details, those who were careless, lax and too "chill" about their travel experiences missed a couple of things here and there. It is worse for those who procrastinated and crammed their to-dos at the last moment. Thus, in the case of travel, it is, indeed, better to be safe than sorry.

  1. When you decide on a travel destination, read up on the country. Read up on the specific locale you are going to. Dig up real stories about it, especially on travel sites that rely heavily on user-generated content. Also read up on your travel destination through stories found on blogs. This will ensure that you get facts, true stories and the "dirt" on the place.
  2. Look out for red flags: Lack of technology, less than ideal transportation, lack of potable water, expensive goods, and the like. If you can't put up with the constraints and the inconveniences that come with visiting the place, forget it. Don't rationalize that "Maybe I can do without this for a couple of nights." If your gut says don't go, don't go. Alternatives abound, anyway.
  3. Book your accommodations in a place where food, water and other standard needs are accessible. This way, should you run out of supplies, it's easy to replenish.
  4. When you've finalized your booking, keep all your tickets, passport and documents in one secure place. A travel pouch you can lock would be great. As for money, it would be best if you keep your cards and cash in different locations and in different pieces of luggage, as much as possible. In case anyone attempts to rob or steal from you, they could miss a spot and you'd still have some cash left.
  5. Gather and store multiple copies of the Philippine Embassy's contact details. Note it in a planner, personal diary, your phone, your computer (if you brought one), as well as a piece of paper in your wallet. In fact, memorize the Embassy's phone number. This way, when you find yourself in a bind, you'll still know whom to call, or where to go.
  6. If you have friends in the area, connect with them. Ask for directions, the local prices, and the cheaper places to eat and stay. It'll save you a fortune.
  7. When escorted, don't give in to fear. Ask for a chance to call the Philippine Embassy. It is your right to be protected and even represented by the Embassy, whichever country you are in.

As they say, knowledge is power. Know your rights, what you can and should do, and know that you have the choice and the power to protect yourself. Happy traveling!

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