How To Beat The Undas Rush
Undas in the Philippines is a time for honoring departed loved ones and sharing stories. While it has evolved into a joyous family reunion, it can be challenging due to crowds and traffic. The article offers guidance for a smoother Undas experience, including planning ahead, prioritizing health, using digital tools, and keeping the tradition of remembrance alive.
It’s that time of the year when Filipinos flock to cemeteries in honor of their departed loved ones. A once solemn occasion, All Saints and All Souls Day, or Todos los Santos and Undas has transformed into a mini family reunion for some, or a full-blown fiesta for others. Family members gather around candles, flowers and endless pots of food, while offering prayers, songs and laughter and telling stories of the good old days shared with their beloved.
Two days are spent reminiscing and remembering the people who used to be a vital part of their lives. For this reason, many toil the long lines and miles of traffic for a few hours with their loved ones.
There are ways to mitigate the effects of this annual exodus. If you’re planning to join the rest of the population who will be traveling back to their hometown, or simply taking the weekend off for a short vacation. You can save time, money and unnecessary anxieties with our guide on how to beat the Undas rush.
Buy travel fares in advance
Especially if it’s your first time going to the province during Undas (or you simple plan to have a weekend getaway) it’s wise to pinpoint months or weeks in advance when you plan to travel to the province. Bus terminals, seaports and airports get crowded heavily and quickly due to the annual migration. And with the high volume of demand, tickets will get scarce. Are you sure you want to risk being a chance passenger when tickets run out?
If you time it right, airlines like Cebu Pacific, and Philippine Airlines (PAL), offer promo rates months in advance, and with travel dates that include November 1 to 2.
If you must, also consider a backup plan, such as getting insurance. Having one means you don’t need to worry about cancelled flights (for example, when the weather suddenly turns sour) or losing a seat to overbooking.
Travel early (or travel late)
The Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) expects the annual migration to hit its peak between October 30 (Friday) to November 2 (Monday). So, to avoid getting stuck in traffic, leave before Friday if your company allows you to take a longer leave, particularly if you’re traveling to far flung provinces.
The opposite also applies. If your hometown is closer to the capital, you’ll find traveling much easier in the afternoon of November 1 or November 2. By then most of the roads (that don’t lead to cemeteries) will be clear enough to make your trip quick and effortless.
The same principle applies for when you need to return to Metro Manila. The longer you delay your return trip, the less hassle it will be for your journey (just make sure you’ve cleared this with your company beforehand).
Make safety a priority
If you’re travelling by car, the large volume of vehicles going the same direction means unforgiving traffic. Make sure you’re car is fit for the long drive. Consumerreports.org recommends having basic maintenance performed before any major trip.
Have the engine, battery, tires, brake pads, oil, fuel, and lights inspected before hitting the road. Also have an emergency kit prepared, as well as a copy of your car insurance (including emergency numbers to call especially if it has a complimentary 24/7 roadside assistance). You can shop for the best car insurance policies available here!
If you’ll be commuting, take note of the locations of security personnel and K9 units, as well as first aid, help desks, and charging stations positioned at bus terminals, airports and ports whom you can approach for any concern.
The Philippine National Police warns the traveling public to keep vigilant during Undas with the following tips:
- Be at the (bus terminal, ports) as early as you can
- Mind your tickets
- Avoid wearing expensive jewelry
- Be wary of your belongings
- Stay alert against thieves and malicious characters
If you’re travelling via plane, flag carrier PAL also issued several guidelines to ensure passengers can have a hassle free journey, which includes:
- Being at the airport at least three hours before your flight departure
- Traveling light. Avoid bringing heavy suitcases and hand-carry luggage
- Making sure you have all your travel documents (ticket, passport, passes) with you.
- Securing aerosols and gels over 100 ml in check – in baggage
- Checking your flight status through PAL’s Hotline (+632) 8855-8888, website www.philippineairlines.com, or PAL’s Facebook or Twitter accounts
- Always watching young children in tow to ensure their protection and safety
While away, also secure the home you’re leaving behind. Make sure every door and window is locked, and keep a light on to ward off burglars. Unplug all appliances, and if you can, ask a trusted neighbor to keep watch of your place while you’re out.
Buy candles and other necessities months before November
Prices of candles, flowers and other essentials rise on the days leading to All Saints and All Souls Day. While flowers expire after a week or so, candles are available all year round.
You can stock candles or buy them one to two months ahead so you won’t need to buy expensive ones en route to the cemetery on November 1. Buying in advance means you get to pick and buy the best ones, which also gives you time to head at Divisoria to get more for cheap.
Visit during off-season
Nothing’s preventing you from visiting (or praying for) your dearly departed during other times of the year. So if you really wish to beg off the hassle, crowd and traffic, and wish for a more solemn celebration — a one-on-one with your loved one — then make a scheduled or maybe a spontaneous trip to the cemetery during summer.
But of course those who cannot afford that luxury, the holidays at the onset of November remains to be a much observed tradition for most Filipinos.
Prioritize health and safety
It’s crucial to put your health and safety first now more than ever (given the pandemic that hit us). Before your Undas journey, stay updated on the latest health guidelines and travel restrictions in your destination.
Ensure you have enough face masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant wipes on hand for crowded places. Some locations may require proof of vaccination, so carry your vaccination card or digital passport.
Make use of digital tools
Take advantage of available digital tools to simplify your Undas trip. Use navigation apps like Google Maps or Waze for real-time traffic updates and the best routes. Keep your devices charged and have portable chargers ready. Download relevant apps for public transport schedules and food delivery to minimize physical contact.
These digital tools will help you navigate the pandemic’s challenges and ensure a smoother and safer Undas experience.
As Undas approaches, the Filipino tradition of honoring our departed loved ones endures, evolving into moments of cherished reunions, storytelling, and reflection. While practical tips enhance our journeys, the heart of Undas remains in the connections we foster and the memories we share, uniting past and present in a meaningful celebration of life and love.
For sure, preparing months in advance for Undas or any holiday for that matter can protect you from the extra hassle and sudden cost. Be wiser and stay safe in your travels!