The planes of the Philippines are going global. Local airlines are opening routes to more international locations. It’s easier for people to travel for a vacation. We are less caged by the borders of our country. With overseas work being a gateway for Filipinos and their families to travel abroad, Filipino tourists are on the rise. But how do you know if you’re fully immersed in your vacation or just aimlessly wandering abstract scenery? Here’s how to become an expert globetrotter:

 
1

Plan beforehand. It goes without saying, but let’s say it anyway. Read about your destination: how to get there, the culture, the language. A quick Google search can come in handy. There’s nothing worse than being trapped in a country because you have no idea how to work their transportation system and have no way of asking for help since you didn’t study the language. You might want to download Duolingo, TripAdvisor, and an offline map app.

2

Walk like an Egyptian. Don’t look like a tourist. Snatchers can smell tourists from a mile away—partly because the tourists themselves give off that irresistible scent. The aimless tourist captivated by all the sights and sounds is easy pickings for the skilled thief. Don’t look like you just arrived. Be confident. Also, locals may take a liking to you if you seem to know what you’re doing. But don’t get too cocky. It’s counterproductive to act confident when you haven’t the faintest idea what to do.

3

Take the path less traveled. Study all the modes of transportation in a country. Avoid taking cabs. They’re way too expensive. Plus, you’ll miss your chance to take the more scenic or cultural route through the subway system or by simply walking. You’d be surprised at the hidden treasures you’d find in every alley. Just be sure to remain vigilant around some tight corners.

4

Go beyond the borders. Paris is not just Paris. Paris is part of a bigger France. The same goes for every major city you go to. The surrounding countryside may have more to offer than the major cities. If you came just to see the main sights and attractions you see in every run-of-the-mill guidebook, then you have grossly unprepared. If you have the time and the budget, try the intercity rail. Going to the provinces is part of your cultural immersion. You’ll be up for a new sights and a lovely view of the countryside from the train. More importantly, going to these hidden gems means you’ll avoid battling throngs of tourists for a crappy photo of an over-photographed landmark.

5

Look up. Filipinos love to take photographs so much that you’d think we take a group photo for every two steps we take. Don’t fall into that trap. This vacation is about you and your family. No one will care if you’ve managed to take selfies with every single building in Tokyo. Yes, take a number of shots, but put down your camera every so often and take in the sights. Immerse yourself in the culture. It won’t make a difference if all you remember from your vacation is staring at your camera.