5 Homecoming Tips for OFWs and Balikbayans
If you're an OFW returning to Manila, and wondering if you need to reserve a room at an airport hotel in Pasay City before you set off to your hometown, you must be looking for ways to make your return home more convenient. While conveniences comes at a price, it doesn't mean that it has to be severely expensive. Here are 5 tips to help you travel conveniently - without breaking the bank:
1. Travel shortly after peak season. Whether it's for plane fares or accommodation, everything is generally cheaper during the off-peak season from late January to March. A good example would be traveling home in February for a Valentine's Day reunion, or in March for your child's graduation, instead of trying to beat the Christmas/New Year holiday rush.
Apart from avoiding the crowds during the bigger holidays, traveling during these dates also helps you take advantage of various promotions from different airlines and hotels. Airport hotels with promo rates include Mabuhay Manor in Pasay City, which slashed 25% off their published room rates for visitors staying up to March 31, 2012.
2. Keep in mind that baggage allowances -- and excess baggage charges -- change based on the destination and the airline. For example, Philippine Airlines flights within the country, and select Asian destinations such as Hong Kong, allow up to 20 kilos of checked-in luggage. However, their flights to Caticlan only allow a maximum of 10 kilos of checked-in luggage.
That's not a reason to fret, though, especially if you're staying overnight in Manila to catch a flight the next day. Some airport hotels, like the Mabuhay Manor, offers guests free use of their weighing scale to accurately determine the weight of all their luggage.
3. Choose your pasalubong items carefully. Apart from avoiding the hassle of declaring items at Customs and preventing breakage or spoilage during transit, knowing exactly what to bring can also help you pack lighter. Some of the standard pasalubong items - bottles of shampoo and perfume, the occasional can of Spam - are actually available at duty-free stores or even in most Manila malls. For those items, you can simply set aside money to buy them when you arrive. It's even better to consult relatives or friends in the Philippines about pasalubong ideas before leaving, so you can buy something that will be better appreciated back home.
4. Ladies, maximize your hand-carried luggage allotment. While the standard limit for hand-carried luggage is a single bag that will fit in the overhead compartment of the plane, some airlines allow women to bring an additional handbag or tote. The extra bag can be used to store travel documents, additional pasalubong and other small items. Just be sure to place the bag under the seat in front of you, instead of the overhead bin, to maximize the storage space onboard the aircraft.
5. When scheduling flights, ensure there's enough time to account for delays. Flights may get delayed for various unforeseen reasons like mechanical problems, runway traffic and inclement weather. That's why its important to schedule flights at least 3 hours apart, especially when transferring from international to local flights, just in case any delays do occur. Three hours is usually enough time to allow you to fetch your luggage and transfer from one terminal to another, especially when switching airlines.
If you have no better choice and end up with a schedule that have flights scheduled 12 or more hours apart, then it's best to just book at one of the airport hotels in Pasay City so that you can relax before your flight.