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  • Enjoy The Beach And Outdoor Adventures! Mom Shares How To Tour Bohol Safely With Kids

    Traveling with her son helped her feel revitalized after staying indoors for so long.
    by Marie Ritz Pay Seng .
Enjoy The Beach And Outdoor Adventures! Mom Shares How To Tour Bohol Safely With Kids
PHOTO BY Marie Ritz Pay Seng
  • After nearly a year and 6 months of strict lockdown, my family and I were ready to admit defeat. No longer able to sustain a healthy work-life balance indoors — we needed a break.

    Despite doing our best to make the most of our time at home, I think we can all agree that to remain sane and functional, we also need to prioritize self-care. And by self-care, I mean giving in the urge to travel.

    I realized that if I wanted to become a better mother, sister, friend, and employee, I need to set aside the fear. To get past my pandemic consciousness and finally brave the world. Living in Metro Manila and seeing only concrete walls and pavements, and hearing about negative news and having to deal with traffic despite the COVID-19 pandemic was taking its toll.

    I could not envision spending another birthday in confined walls. On top of that, seeing my 8-year-old son crave playmates and new experiences made me book a trip to Bohol.

    My son is growing older before my eyes and I do not want to rob my son of good memories with his family — I needed to book that trip and create a wonderful experience that we can remember for the rest of our lives. Memories that will serve as an anchor for my son in his growing years.

    Planning and booking a trip to Bohol

    The smell of the seaside and the familiar breeze of the beach is truly heaven sent.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of the author
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    It all started when I saw an advertisement for Amorita Resort while browsing through my feed. It did not hurt that there was an array of huge discounts that made it extra attractive.

    The resort inclusions & amenities also exuded a vibe of privacy, safety, and lush comfort. Just what we need in these trying times.

    Booking with the resort was easy — they partnered with a laboratory that offered home service RT-PCR testing, which we availed as it was included in our room stay (for stays above 3 days, 2 RT-PCR tests are free).

    Bohol travel requirements

    To ensure safety for all, the local government unit (LGU) of Bohol set-up a centralized registration for its local and foreign tourists. Travel requirements include:

    • Negative RT-PCR or saliva test 72 hours before the date of departure (children 4 years and below are not required to take the test)
    • Pre-registration at tourism.bohol.gov.ph to get a QR code and a letter of acceptance from the city
    • Booking of accommodation and travel tours accredited by the LGU
    • Traze app profile (for each person traveling)

    We found it relatively easy as long as you have all the required documents. They will direct you to submit and upload all RT-PCR tests, your itinerary and accommodations, your flight booking confirmation, and accommodation booking reference to a Google Doc form (Click here for more information.)

    After submission, expect a confirmation email with your acceptance letter within eight to 24 hours. You would need this to activate your QR code profile on the website.

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    We had no issues during our flight departure. We just needed to make sure we had downloaded the TRAZE app (per person traveling) and have our QR code ready for validation at the boarding gates. After printing the acceptance letter, the RT-PCR results & booking confirmation, we were all set to travel!

    What to expect at the airport

    We thought there would only be a few people traveling locally so we did not bother arriving early at Terminal 3 of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). To my surprise, the terminal was abuzz with travelers and the airplane was also full.

    Cebu Pacific Air and the passengers all followed protocols, but we still miss the times when we can easily board the plane without additional queues for testing and validation. Wearing masks, and face shields while everyone is requested to use alcohol whenever they encounter/touch areas with high usage, is strictly enforced.

    Upon arriving at the Tagbilaran airport, what I initially thought would be a grueling process was seamless and fast. Just make sure you are subscribed to mobile data, so you can easily show your QR codes and open your TRAZE app when you pass through local immigration & airport security.

    We were met by the concierge staff of Amorita Resort (another free inclusion) who took care of our belongings. We were also greeted warmly by the staff at the resort — you can feel the sincerity and joy of the staff upon welcoming tourists.

    What to do in Panglao, Bohol

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    The resort has tons of kid-friendly activities including kayaking, archery, and biking.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of the author

    Our travel guide told us that a year ago, Bohol felt like a ghost town without the tourists. But now, they are relieved to see it starting to spring back to life — from an economic perspective.

    We came when Bohol had just eased restrictions, so a ton of tourist attractions were still closed, like the Loboc River Cruise (which has since opened), Loboc Zipline, and most of the Eco Adventure Park services.

    We decided to visit the Chocolate Hills and were surprised that we got to enjoy the entire view almost to ourselves.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of the author
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    Pro-tip: Book a reliable and knowledgeable tour guide so you can get the legends and backstory behind the various locations you’ll be visiting. Bring a potent mosquito repellent, sunblock, your own drinking water, and probably a change of clothes for you & your child since the countryside tour, which can last the whole day, can be quite tiring. Also bring an extra pair of masks plus your travel papers and your QR code.

    The author and her son enjoying an ATV ride near Chocolate Hills.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of the author

    Some must-tries are the ATV rides situated near Chocolate Hills, the Firefly Watching River Cruise (at night from 7 p.m. onwards), a visit to the Tarsier Sanctuary, lunch over at Loboc River Resort (try Venia’s Kitchen), and a very early dolphin watching along with the various options for island hopping.

    At the Tarsier Sanctuary.
    PHOTO BY Courtesy of the author
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    Whether you are married or a single parent like me, traveling with your kids is still possible despite the pandemic. Despite the troubles of the past year, it made me think that life is still worth living. That despite all the fear, the pain, the worry we still have a life to look forward to. That not everything is bad in the world — which helped my mind and heart heal tremendously.

    Click here for more tips from the Department of Tourism on how to travel safely during the pandemic.

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