Tuesday, July 10, 2007

How NOT to travel with a salmon

I wrote this article (with apologies to Umberto Eco) about two years ago for Click the City, and I was told that it's one of the better articles I did for the website. Since I'm having this travel blog, I think it's nice to repost my own work on my own blog. Enjoy!


Honestly now, how does one travel with just 20 kilos of airplane luggage? I mean, had I been from another country, 20 kilos would be too much. But for a Filipino? C’mon, 30 kilos would still not be enough!

The Filipino traveler, miser to the end, is not convinced with the overarching philosophy of traveling light, what with all pasalubong and dried mangoes he has to give to all friends and family abroad. The philosophy is this: Buy everything here, save everything there, and get the airline magazine and blanket as souvenir. You can even throw in the traveler’s kit with the little toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, towelette, eye shield mask, etc.

With queues the length of EDSA lining up in embassies to get their passes--er, visas--what we need now is a definite guide on traveling efficiently. People nowadays write a motley of self-help books, but I guess no one has yet realized that how many pairs of briefs or what color of pants should one take with him is as disturbing as a case of, say, anorexia nervosa.

So how should one travel to another country? And how should one not travel to another country?

Here are some tips:

Bring your tabo. A small tabo that costs P15 could save you up to P100 weekly on toilet paper. Not only would you get enough money sooner or later to spend on key chains and stuff like that, you would also have the clean and fresh feeling after you, uhmm, sat on the throne. Just be sure to squeeze the tabo in the baggage as tightly as possible, or risk having a camel-shaped handcarry.

Layer your clothes. If you find it extremely difficult to leave behind your Hello Kitty panties or your statement shirt that profoundly declares, “I’m one hot sexy momma” despite the weight limit, you can always skirt around the policy and don all your favorite clothes in layers. So on top of five layers of underwear and three cotton shirts, you can wear an additional fleece-lined jacket, a poncho and your two-piece starfish bikini. Just be ready to be accosted at the airport on grounds of suspicious appearance and/or die of dehydration when you’re high up in the clouds.

Go to the john before your flight. Have you ever experienced peeing while the plane traverses through turbulent skies? I have and I was mortally afraid, partly because I’d get dizzy but largely because I’d not want to smell like urine afterwards.

Put your passport in an accessible place. There’s nothing worse than rummaging for your passport in your bags with just two persons ahead in the immigration queue. You wouldn’t want to look harassed when you finally present your passport and visa to the officer and say your alibi (I mean, reason for traveling), would you? Yes, your passport is important but don’t go over the edge and lock it in a safe inside the envelope inside a box inside a trunk inside the fourth pocket inside backpack inside your maleta.

Have pesos at hand. People sometimes forget that when you’re in the Philippines, even though you’re just minutes away from your dream destination, you still need a couple of pesos to burn. Don’t make the mistake of carrying wads of dollars and euros without even 550 pesos to pay the taxes. And don’t carry too many bills as they tend to bulge up in the wallet and make you appear like a gangster.

Read a book. Or listen to music. Or bring crayons and coloring books. If you have the misfortune of riding a plane that has films you don’t understand or music that irritates you to no end, you’d know what I mean.

Know when to return. Many people travel without a purpose. I say let’s travel with the goal of returning to the Philippines as people with stories to tell and great things to do. That way, all the hassles from the time you lined up to get your medical certificate up until the endless avalanche of papers and people you have to deal with would all be worth it.

And please, never ever travel with a salmon.


francesbean said...

ohmygoodness. i remember five years ago my friend STOLE this book at national bookstore and gave it to me. shame on us.

20 kilos is indeed not enough. packing is the most stressful thing.

Marlon said...

Packing is my second least favorite thing. Passing through the airport inspection is the worst.