This is a guest post from Travels with a Hobo
7,107 – the number of islands that make up the Philippines. Its vast archipelago is rich in culture, heritage, adventure, biodiversity, and unique experiences that make traveling to my home country a unique experience. Not to mention, the usually hot and humid weather makes it even more perfect to be a getaway for that much-needed R&R in its many beautiful and unspoiled beaches and islands. Traveling to the Philippines soon? Here are seven things to tick off your Philippines travel packing checklist to make sure you have the best time in the country.
1. Comfortable and light clothes
Unlike other countries, the Philippines experiences three seasons namely wet, dry, and hot – but it’s more of hot all-year-round and a little bit of wet if you ask me.
The wet season usually occurs from June to October, dry or cool seasons are from November to February, and hot season is in the months of March to May.
Wearing comfortable clothes like cotton shorts or breathable t-shirts are a must. You’ll also need a pair of comfy shoes because you’ll do most of your walking along uneven paved roads or sandy beaches. And when you’re in the Philippines, there tends to be A LOT of walking involved, whether you’re in the city or in the islands, so bring a couple of comfy slippers or sandals.
2. Sun-smart wear
A stroll outdoors under the sun can give you a healthy dose of vitamin D, but when you’re traveling to the Philippines where you’ll want to spend all of your time in its beautiful paradise-like beaches, it’s best to be equipped with enough sun-smart gear. This is possibly the most important things on this Philippines travel packing checklist! Even just a short walk in the city can give you a sunburn! Invest in good sunscreen with high SPF (find the highest one!), sunglasses, and hats/caps.
Want to get a beautiful glowing tan? The Philippines’s sun is the best tanning machine! I recommend getting a tanning oil that offers sun protection.
3. Camera gear and waterproof bags
There are plenty of things to see in the Philippines (above and underwater!), so don’t miss the opportunity to capture it all. I always make sure that I have my smartphone, DSLR, and GoPro with me when I travel around the Philippines. Here, we have a saying “only in the Philippines!” because there’re so many unique scenes in the country. That’s why you have to be prepared to document everything.
Since you’ll most likely go to the beach, best to have your gadgets safely stored in waterproof bags. We use large dry bags. It’s big enough to carry our gadgets and can also withstand extreme conditions like when we jumped into a river canyon at 12 feet high in Cebu.
READ MORE: Travel resources and gear no matter where you’re headed!
Because the weather can get really hot, it’s inevitable to break a sweat any time of the day. It’s best to bring a few packs of tissue paper and other cooling materials such as wet wipes just in case you need to wipe some sweat off and stay fresh throughout the day.
Filipinos can also be sensitive to body odor so make sure to pack deodorant and take showers regularly. We’re very hospitable people but you’ll get more help from the friendly locals if they’re not running away from your smell.
Also, don’t forget to bring toilet paper with you as it’s rarely available at public toilets.
5. Update your navigation apps like Waze
If you’re traveling in a foreign land, it’s best to be equipped with all the maps you can use (both online or offline) because the last thing you want to happen is your navigation apps shutting down when you need it the most.
Make sure you’ve got your navigation apps like Waze or Google Maps up to date. Even though you’ve checked out your routes or traveling with a tour guide, it’s best to be prepared to avoid getting lost in the big city. This is very handy when you’re riding local cabs, some drivers, unfortunately, take advantage of foreigners who have no clue about their destination so they cheat and drive you in circles for a more expensive fare. Outsmart these punks by knowing the routes to your destinations.
6. Emergency kit
With all the unknown or “exotic” foods and things you’ll get to explore in the Philippines, make sure you prepare an emergency kit with items like topical antiseptic, oral medications, bandages, and sanitizer. A must-bring in our local travels is a bottle of mosquito repellant not just a for a good night’s sleep when camping or if we’re staying in fan rooms, but to also prevent dengue or similar diseases.
You can also throw in a portable charger/power bank and portable WiFi in your emergency kit so your gadgets are always fully charged. There are areas in the Philippines that don’t have electricity or decent mobile/data signal.
7. Copies of identification and a list of emergency numbers and addresses
Having some IDs with you is important. For one, commercial establishments usually require a proof of identity when you’re purchasing items on credit. Second, should anything happen, IDs can help authorities contact your friends or family.
To be on the safer side, we also bring copies of our documents in case we lose them because sad to say, there are scammers and thieves that take advantage of tourists in the Philippines. Here’s a helpful resource on scams that you should be aware of when traveling to the Philippines. Make sure that you have a list of emergency contact number and addresses of friends and local authorities (like your country’s embassy). Don’t store everything on your phone!
It doesn’t take much to enjoy what the Philippines has to offer. You don’t need a 12-piece set of luggage filled with clothes and accessories to make the most of your trip.
Don’t forget to check out travel blogs about the Philippines and read more about the best things you can do in the Philippines because there are all sorts of outdoor activities and extreme water sports that will surely get your adrenaline pumping!
Not done reading?
I have a boat load of information on the Philippines…
Here’s my experience entering the Philippines WITHOUT an outbound flight.
Here’s the best two-week itinerary for the Philippines.
And here’s some general information and observations from traveling the country for over a month.