How to Avoid Offloading as an Online Freelancer, a Female Solo Traveler or Group Travelers

How to avoid offloading? Recently, I’ve been seeing Filipino females experienced offloading just by facing the Bureau of Immigration Philippines. Others experienced the moment you get into another country. The worst part of offloading is when your money is now a waste. Like flight tickets, accommodation reservation or tours you already paid in advance.

tips on how to avoid offloading

How to Avoid Offloading as a Freelancer, a Female Solo Traveler or Group Travelers?

Several readers on my blog keep on asking me for tips on how to avoid offloading as a freelancer, a solo traveler or group travelers. I’ve been doing the freelance job since 2009. I experienced traveling with a friend, group of friends and going solo.

When you read the previous blog, you will see how a credit card gets me through the Bureau of Immigration officer.

Related Article: First Time Abroad – How I Almost Got Offloaded as a Freelancer?

Question #1: Should You Go Travel Solo or Travel with Friends?

As a freelancer with no travel history, I told myself to travel with a friend to test the water. Just one country at a time. I made sure to travel with a friend or at least one friend in a group who has travel history already.

Answer #1: Travel with a Friend – How to Avoid Offloading

The first out of the country I’ve been to was in Malaysia. My friend has traveled to some countries with his family. He was a medical student. Make sure you know who your travel buddy is as the bureau of immigration officer will ask you who you’re with. It is to determine how do you know each other.

An immigration officer will ask you individually. Since it is just the two of you, the officer will possibly ask you more questions. Just to know if your answers really match.

Answer #2: Travel with Friends – How to Avoid Offloading

The second out of the country was in Hong Kong. I gathered my friends to travel with me through a social media announcement. Three friends work in the same company for more than a year and the other one is managing an apartment rental. 2 males and 3 females traveling as a group.

Question #2: Things to Bring on How to Avoid Offloading

As a student:

  • Valid passport
  • Return flight tickets
  • A copy of your daily itinerary
  • A copy of your hotel/hostel booking reservation
  • Valid travel visa (to a particular country if applicable)
  • Bank Certification
  • Credit Card (if applicable)
  • Latest Income Tax Return (ITR) of parents if funded by parents
  • A letter from a parent(s) that your trip is funded by them as a gift
  • Bring School ID
  • Bring the current study load of the class you enrolled
  • Transcript of Records (TOR), in case you are asked for your educational attainment

As an employed individual:

  • Valid passport
  • Return flight tickets
  • A copy of your daily itinerary
  • A copy of your hotel/hostel booking reservation
  • Valid travel visa (to a particular country if applicable)
  • Bank Certification
  • Credit Card (if applicable)
  • Proof of property (vehicle, land title)
  • Certificate of Employment (COE, of course, if you’re employed)
  • Approved Leave of Absence (LOA, if employed)
  • A copy of Company ID
  • Income Tax Return

As a freelancer:

As a freelancer, I admit that there are other documents that I don’t have like an employed individual. But there are disadvantages in not having these documents if you apply for a travel visa to countries that have stricter rules.

  • Valid passport
  • Return flight tickets
  • A copy of your daily itinerary
  • A copy of your hotel/hostel booking reservation
  • Valid travel visa (to a particular country if applicable)
  • Bank Certification
  • Credit Card (if applicable)
  • Proof of property (vehicle, land title) – optional
  • Certificate of Employment (COE, of course, if you’re employed) – optional
  • Approved Leave of Absence (LOA, if employed) – optional
  • A copy of Company ID – optional
  • Income Tax Return – optional but better get this as a self-employed individual

Related Article: My Heartbreaking South Korea Visa Denial Story 2017

Question #3: Should You Travel to No Visa, Visa-Free or Visa Countries?

To be safe, you should travel to countries with no visas. For first time travelers with no travel history, top 3 countries I highly recommended to visit are Malaysia, Indonesia, and Bangkok. These countries will allow you to stay for 22-30 days.

Singapore is also nice to visit. Personally, this should be the first country I should have visited but the ticket was expensive. But as an online freelancer, I might afraid that the Singapore Immigration officer might offload me as they are really strict.

Related Article: Concert Photography – Maroon 5 Concert Singapore 2015

Somehow, you’ll be fine if you travel with a friend with nice travel history. But feels better to travel there if you’ve been countries that are not strict. Several Filipinos are working in Singapore that’s why they will screen Filipinos getting into the country.

Hong Kong, same as Singapore with Filipinos working there. Recent happening when three Filipinas went to Hong Kong for the first time. These Filipinas are employed less than a year in the company. The immigration officers offloaded them when they found out that they will stay with a friend or an aunt. The aunt was waiting for them outside.

Although the Bureau of Immigration Philippines cleared you to get out of the country, you still have to face the immigration officer of the country you are visiting too.

Related Article: Visa-Free Travel to Taiwan Using Japan Visa with Philippines Passport Holder

Question #4: How to Face the Bureau of Immigration Philippines Officer with Confidence?

  • Wear a decent clothing like a traveler or a tourist.
  • Don’t wear heavy make up (females only).
  • Stay calm. Don’t be fidgety.
  • Behave. Don’t talk loud with your friends. Don’t take a lot of selfies.
  • Speak with good manners like a real educated person.
  • Greet ‘hi’ or ‘good day’ and gave a short but warm smile to the officer.
  • Most of the questions can be answered by a yes or a no. Other questions can be answered directly to the point, short and sweet. No further explanations.
  • Just be honest with your intention to travel.

Question #5: What are the questions being asked by Bureau of Immigration Philippines Officer?

I have different experiences when Bureau of Immigration Philippines Officers asked me questions when I get out of the country. During my first travel out of the country, in Manila, I felt the officer was more strict. But when I get out of the country from Cebu, the officer was more relaxed.

1st – Malaysia with a Friend Boarding from Manila – How to Avoid Offloading

Q1: What is your purpose in Malaysia?

A1: Travel

Q2: How many days?

A2: 4 days

Q3: Address and Itinerary?

A3: *Gives booking confirmation and booking tours in Malaysia*

Q4: Who are you traveling with?

A4: With my friend.

Q5: What is his work?

A5: He is a medical student.

Q6: What do you do?

A6: I work online as an administrative assistant.

Q7: How do you get your salary?

A7: PayPal then connected to my bank account.

Q8: Do you have ATM card?

A8: *I showed my 1 ATM card*

Q9: Do you have any other ATM cards?

A9: *Showed other 2-3 cards*

Q10: Do you have a credit card?

A10: *Showed my credit card*

Then she let me go. Put a stamp on my passport while the airplane was waiting for me to board. I heard my name at NAIA being announced. What a shame. My friend and I were running to the airplane as I was the last passenger. Thanks to the airline for patiently waiting.

Related Article: 4 Days in Malaysia Budget and Itinerary

2nd – Hong Kong with Friends Boarding from Cebu

We went to one bureau of immigration officer as a group. I faced the officer first since I had one stamp from a previous trip. Three friends were asked by their company ID’s as it was their first out of the country. My friend showed a letter or a proof that she owns an apartment rental business.

Q1: How many days of travel?

A1: 3 days

Q2: How is your day of travel different from the other three friends?

A2: We booked first for three days. Tickets are sold out for the return ticket so need to extend one day.

Q3: Address and Itineraries?

A3: *Showed the document with address and itineraries*

The officer stamped our passports and let us go.

Related Article: 4 Days 3 Nights in Hong Kong and Macau

3rd – First Solo travel to Japan Boarding from Cebu

Ahead of me on the line were two male friends who were traveling to Japan. They told me that the immigration officer asked them a lot of questions.

Surprisingly, the Burea of Immigration Officer never asked me a single question. He just stamped my passport and let me go. Maybe because my last name sounds Japanese.

Related Article: How I Got Japan Visa Without ITR

4th – Malaysia with Friends Boarding from Cebu

We were interviewed individually by different immigration officers. Two friends told the officers that they’re traveling with me, the traveling coordinator, who travels longer in Malaysia as a volunteer in a hostel.

The immigration officer never asked me a lot of questions since he saw that I’ve been to three countries with one visa country.

One friend was detained for 30 minutes so we waited for her. She was questioned when she said she was traveling with a foreigner. Later on, she got released. She should just have told the officer that she would travel with me, short, simple and direct to the point.

5th – Solo Travel to Malaysia Boarding from Cebu

Being a consistent traveler, the immigration officer didn’t ask me a lot of questions since I’ve been to Cebu with an exit flight from Singapore.

Related Article: How I Traveled Solo to 5 Countries in 2015?

6th – Solo Travel Back to Japan from Cebu – How to Avoid Offloading

A consistent solo traveler, nobody ever asked me a question. It was smooth sailing.

Related Article: What to Wear Autumn Season in Japan?

7th – Solo Travel to Taiwan Boarding from Cebu

It was a male immigration officer asked me questions.

Q1: What will you do in Taiwan?

A1: Celebrating my birthday. 🙂

*Greets ‘Happy Birthday!’*

Got my stamp.

Related Article: 4 Days 3 Nights Taipei, Taiwan for less than US$200

8th – Solo Travel Back to Taiwan Boarding from Cebu – How to Avoid Offloading

Another male immigration…

Q1: Where is your boyfriend?

A1: No boyfriend :/

Another stamp on my passport.

9th and 10th – Solo Travel to Taiwan Long-term Boarding from Cebu and Manila

Since there were several people at the immigration, the airline was ready to fly but there were several passengers who haven’t boarded yet. So, people traveling to Taiwan were given a priority to get their passports to stamp without questions. Passengers boarded the plane directly.

Related Article: How I Survived Budget Travel 26 Days Taiwan with PHP 8000 Pocket Money

Question #6: Is It Necessary to Reserve a Hostel or Hotel Booking When You Travel?

Either you found a host where you could stay with a friend, a relative or through Couchsurfing, it is necessary to reserve a hostel or hotel booking when you travel. That means you can afford to pay for your trip and your accommodation. You need the address of your accommodation as you have to fill up the arrival card. I avoid telling the immigration officer that I will stay with a friend or a relative. Treat yourself as a tourist who can afford to travel.

Scenario #1:

I have a cousin in Osaka but I never mentioned to the immigration officer that I have a relative there. I applied for a Japan visa without a guarantor. So treat yourself as a tourist, not someone who is visiting a relative. Most of the time I stay in Tokyo so I filled up the arrival card the address of my hostel in Shinjuku.

Use Booking.com to reserve your accommodation. Get the address and save it on your phone. The good thing about Booking.com is that they allow you to cancel within 24 hours before your date of stay without an extra fee.

Scenario #2:

Missed my flight from Tokyo to Cebu so I had no choice but to fly to Hong Kong. I asked a friend to help me find a host. The host gave me his home address. But to avoid hassle from the immigration officer in Hong Kong, I have to put the address of the previous hostel I’ve stayed back in 2014.

If you put the residence address of your host, the immigration officer will ask you personal questions about the host. The only reason that immigration officers are strict about this is to avoid human trafficking. They have to know if you really know the person you’re staying with. Please avoid this situation. To make your life easier, use the address of your chosen hostel.

Scenario #3:

In Penang, Malaysia, I stayed with a host who used to live in a condo-like hotel. But I also found a hostel where I can do volunteer work with, so I put the hostel address on the arrival card.

Question #7: Can You Still Travel When You Just Quit Your Job?

Filipinos always worry about traveling without a job. But how about you just quit your job? Tell the immigration officer that you deserve a break and you need to travel.

To answer the question, I created a blog post about this.

Check this out: Travel Advice for Someone Traveling Abroad Without a Job But Has a Means To Do So

Highly Recommended

If you’re traveling on a budget, at least go to one different country per year. Fill your new passport with at least 10 different countries in 10 years. When I got my first passport which was valid for five years, my ultimate goal was to fill five different countries until expiration.

Don’t go to the same country in consecutive years. Let’s say, last year, you went to Hong Kong and this year you want to go back to Hong Kong. The immigration would think that you will go back there for work. There is a chance you’ll get offloaded.

Going to Singapore after few months the first time you were there is also a red flag. The immigration, again, would think that you will look for work.

Although I’ve been to Taiwan four times already within a year, the immigration officers of the Philippines and Taiwan never asked me questions because they can see I am a frequent traveler.

Related Article: Taiwan Cherry Blossoms at Yangmingshan National Park 2017

Conclusion on How to Avoid Offloading

If you have the basic documents to bring, you’ll be fine. Just show the bureau of immigration officers that you are a traveler or you treat yourself for vacation.

For more questions, please leave a comment below and I will update this blog post with more answers.

 

Roxanne is an aspiring digital nomad. A virtual assistant since October 2009. She is a hobbyist blogger, photographer and travels a lot.

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