Big NO NO!
When you are in Cebu, you are subject to its local laws and laws of the Philippines. It helps to learn about local laws and regulations and to obey them. Try to avoid areas of unrest and disturbance. Deal only with authorized outlets when exchanging money or buying airline tickets and traveler's checks. Do not deliver a package for anyone, unless you know the person well and you are certain that the package does not contain drugs or other contraband.
Before you think about selling personal effects, such as clothing, cameras, or jewelry, you should learn about the local regulations regarding such sales. You must adhere strictly to local laws because the penalties that you risk are severe.
Prohibited Drugs: It's not worth the risk of getting caught with contraband. You might conceivably be quite good at avoiding the heat in your home country, but each country has its own laws, procedures, etc. There are so many fun things to do in these places, that reality is enough.
- If someone offers you a free trip and some quick and easy money, just for bringing back a suitcase...SAY NO!
- Do not carry a package for anyone, no matter how small it may be.
- Do not let anyone pack your suitcases for you while you are abroad.
- If the drugs are in you suitcase, you will be caught.
- Do not get involved with illegal drugs! It can spoil more than your vacation. It can ruin your life!
- Possession of Firearms: Obviously!
- Purchase of Antiques: The Philippines consider some antiques to be national treasures and are "inalienable property of the nation." Customs authorities seize illegally purchased antiques without compensation, and they may also levy fines on the purchaser. Protect yourself. It is a must that you document your purchases as reproductions, if that is the case, or, if they are authentic, secure the necessary export permit. The documentation or export permit may be available with Customs or the National Museum. A reputable dealer may provide the export permit or information on how to secure one. If you have questions about purchasing antiques, the Department of Tourism or the National Museum can guide you.
- Purchase of Endangered Wildlife: Be careful when you buy articles made from animals and plants or when you purchase live, wild animals to bring back as pets. Many wildlife and wildlife products are prohibited either by Philippine laws or by foreign laws. Some items, such as those made from elephant ivory, sea turtles, crocodile leather, or fur from endangered cats, and many species of live animals cannot be brought out of the Philippines legally. Government inspectors could confiscate your wildlife souvenirs and you could face other penalties for attempting to bring them out.
Traveling can be very expensive but in a way could also be about doing things cheaply. Well, you could just try to sleep in; unless there is a beautiful sunrise to see; read a book, unless there is an interesting cultural event; or eat great cheap food, unless you've gotten diarrhea. Get to spend as much time as possible on the road without to worry much on spending, here's how to handle money safely.
To avoid carrying large amounts of cash, change your travelers' checks only as you need currency. Countersign travelers' checks only in front of the person who will cash them. Do not flash large amounts of money when paying a bill. Make sure your credit card is returned to you after each transaction.
Deal only with authorized agents when you exchange money, buy airline tickets or purchase souvenirs. Do not change money on the black market. Before departing or upon arrival, you may wish to purchase small amounts of foreign currency to use for buses, taxis, phones, or tips when you first arrive. There are foreign exchange facilities available at the airports.
You may also wish to bring at least one internationally recognized credit card. Before you leave, find out what your credit card limit is and do not exceed it. You don't want to be like those who have innocently exceeded their limit have been arrested for fraud.
Leave unneeded credit cards at home. Sometimes credit card companies block the account to avoid fraud when they see an international transaction. It may be useful to inform your credit card company about your upcoming travel before your trip to avoid interruption of access to your line of credit when you are in a foreign country.
ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) are available. Often your local bank card depending on which service is available can access these ATMs. The exchange rates are comparable to the going rate of exchange. Check with your local bank to find out which ATM service is available in the Philippines. Because ATMs may not always be available, this should be used as only a backup method and not depended on solely for all your financial transactions.
Prepare for emergency funds it is a good idea to keep the telephone number for your bank in your country with you, in case you run out of cash and need to transfer money. In some countries, major banks and certain travel agencies can help arrange a transfer of funds from your account to a bank here in the Philippines. If you do not have a bank account from which you can obtain emergency funds, you should make arrangements in advance with a relative or friend back home to send you emergency funds should it become necessary. If you find yourself destitute, contact the your nearest embassy or consulate for assistance in arranging a money wire transfer from a relative or friend from your country.
Valuables - Do Not Bring Them! Do not bring anything on your trip that you would hate to lose, such as expensive jewelry, family photographs, or objects of sentimental value. If you bring jewelry, wear it discreetly to help prevent snatch-and-run robbery.
If your possessions are lost or stolen, report the loss immediately to the local police. Keep a copy of the police report for insurance claims and as an explanation of your plight.
After reporting missing items to the police, report the loss or theft of:
- travelers' checks to the nearest agent of the issuing company
- credit cards to the issuing company
- airline tickets to the airline or travel agent
- passport to the nearest embassy or consulate
Although Cebu has never been threatened by terrorist acts it is advisable still to be cautious as this can occur unpredictably and at random, making it impossible to protect yourself absolutely.
Most terrorist attacks are the result of long and careful planning. Just as a car thief will first be attracted to an unlocked car with the key in the ignition, terrorists are looking for defenseless, easily accessible targets that follow predictable patterns. Nevertheless, the following pointers may help you avoid becoming a target of opportunity. They should be considered as adjuncts to the tips listed in the previous sections on how to protect yourself against the far greater likelihood of being a victim of crime. These precautions may provide some degree of protection, and can serve as practical and psychological deterrents to would-be terrorists.
Schedule direct flights if possible and avoid stops in high-risk airports or areas. Consider other options for travel, such as taking a boat or bus.
Be aware of what you discuss with strangers or what others may overhear.
Try to minimize the time spent in the public area of an airport, which is a less protected area. Move quickly from the check-in counter to the secured areas. On arrival, leave the airport as soon as possible.
As much as possible, avoid luggage tags, dress and behavior that may identify you as an American.
Keep an eye out for suspicious abandoned packages or briefcases. Report them to airport security or other authorities and leave the area promptly.
When traveling with your family make sure to discuss with them what they would do in the event of an emergency. Make sure your affairs are in order before leaving home.
Register with the your nearest embassy or consulate in Cebu or in your home country. Registration will make your presence and whereabouts known in case it is necessary to contact you in an emergency. Remember to leave a detailed itinerary and the numbers or copies of your passport or other citizenship documents with a friend or relative back home.
Remain friendly but be cautious about discussing personal matters, your itinerary or program.
Leave no personal or business papers in your hotel room.
Watch for people following you or "loiterers" observing your comings and goings.
Keep a mental note of safe havens, such as police stations, hotels, and hospitals.
Let someone else know what your travel plans are. Keep them informed if you change your plans.
Avoid predictable times and routes of travel and report any suspicious activity to local police, and your nearest embassy or consulate.
Select your own taxicabs at random. Don't take a vehicle that is not clearly identified as a taxi. Compare the face of the driver with the one posted on his ID license.
If possible, travel with others.
Be sure of the identity of visitors before opening the door of your hotel room. Don't meet strangers at unknown or remote locations.
Refuse unexpected packages.
Formulate a plan of action for what you will do if a bomb explodes or there is gunfire nearby.
Check for loose wires or other suspicious activity around your car.
Be sure your vehicle is in good operating condition in case you need to resort to high-speed or evasive driving.
Drive with car windows closed in crowded streets. Bombs can be thrown through open windows.
If you are ever in a situation where somebody starts shooting, drop to the floor or get down as low as possible. Don't move until you are sure the danger has passed. Do not attempt to help rescuers and do not pick up a weapon. If possible, shield yourself behind or under a solid object. If you must move, crawl on your stomach.
Do You Need Travel Insurance?
You may not need travel insurance, if you are already adequately covered by other insurance policies.
Depending on the travel insurance plan, travel insurance usually promises to cover you for cancellation or interruption of your trip, some form of emergency medical care while you are traveling, lost or stolen luggage, and various other troublesome occurrences.
Before you decide on a travel insurance plan, it is wise to investigate the plan carefully and read the fine print. You should closely check any agreements with your travel agent, tour operator, airline, or other companies involved with your travel plans. The agreements may include written guarantees.
If you have a fully refundable airline ticket, you may decide that you would not need trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
On the other hand, it may be worthwhile noting that certain insurance plans can protect you by covering the financial costs in case of the following situations:
- A sudden, serious injury or illness to you, a family member, or a traveling companion.
- Financial default of the airline, cruise line or tour operator.
- Natural disasters or strikes that impede travel services.
- Delayed caused by terrorist incidents.
A circumstance in which you were directly involved in an accident enroute to departure for your trip.
It is a good idea to check your other insurance policies. For instance, your homeowners or tenants insurance may cover the loss or theft of your luggage.
Certain credit cards may also provide additional travel insurance, if you have used them to purchase the ticket for your trip.
Your health insurance may provide certain coverage, regardless of where you travel. But it is very important to note that some policies only partially cover medical expenses abroad.
Your travel agent should be able to advise you about the right plan for you. Before purchasing travel insurance, review the plan carefully, and be wary of buying coverage that you may already have.
Protect Your Passport
Your passport is the most valuable document that you will carry abroad. It confirms your citizenship. Please guard it carefully. Do not use it as collateral for a loan or lend it to anyone. It is your best form of identification. You will need it when you pick up mails or check into hotels, embassies or consulates.
When entering or registering at hotels, you may be asked to fill out a police card listing your name, passport number, destination, local address, and reason for travel. You may be required to leave your passport at the hotel reception desk overnight so that it may be checked by local police officials. These are normal procedures required by local laws. If your passport is not returned the following morning, immediately report the impoundment to local police authorities and to your nearest embassy or consulate.
Carelessness is the main cause for losing a passport or having it stolen. You may find that you have to carry your passport with you because you need to show it when you cash traveler's checks or it is required for you to carry as an identity document. When you must carry your passport, hide it securely on your person. Do not leave it in a handbag nor in an exposed pocket. Whenever possible, leave your passport in the hotel safe, not in an empty hotel room, and not packed in your luggage. One family member should not carry all the passports for the entire family.
Coat pockets, handbags, and hip pockets are particularly susceptible to theft. Thieves will use all kinds of ploys to divert your attention just long enough to pick your pocket and grab your purse or wallet. These ploys include creating a disturbance, spilling something on your clothing, or even handing you a baby to hold!
You can try to prevent theft by carrying your belongings in a secure manner. For example, consider not carrying a purse or wallet when going along crowded streets. Women who carry a shoulder bag should keep it tucked under the arm and held securely by the strap. Men should put their wallets in their front trouser pockets or use money belts instead of hip pockets. A wallet wrapped in rubber bands is more difficult to remove without notice. Be especially cautious in a large crowd in crowded places, on buses, at the marketplace, at a festival, or if surrounded by groups of vagrant children. Do not make it easy for thieves!