For me, applying for visas is a legitimate logistical nightmare. I actually am the type to worry a fair bit about planning – I’m not the sort of person who will casually board a plane to another country and hope I can obtain a visa upon arrival. And I know a lot of people who do this. I genuinely have some fear that for whatever reason, the one day that I attempt to do this, all the visas will have been used up for the day.
So in planning my trips, I’ve applied for more visas than I care to admit to. Not only is this a logistical nightmare, but it can also be expensive. If you don’t have a consulate nearby, you have to pay to post, a money order, and sometimes a higher fee for it to be processed (Cuba, I’m looking at you). However, the visa is the only thing standing between you and that beautiful island beach that you’ve been lusting over the past few months (or years).
Your Nationality may give you some leverage with visas
Being Australian, there are very few countries it feels that I can get away with not applying for a visa. One such country where this stark reality came into play was Vietnam. The second time around, which I spoke briefly about earlier, I went with my grandparents. My Nan is actually a British citizen, unlike me.
So, when it came time to apply for a visa to get into the country, I happily paid the AU$90-ish fee to get a visa for the week I was there. Low and behold – because my Nan travels on a British passport, she didn’t have to get one.
This story brings up a very valid point, and that is that you really should check the rules for the country which you are travelling to. You might be lucky and not have to get a visa at all to enter it. Some passports actually allow more freedom than others, with Atlas in 2017 ranking the German passport (tied with Singapore) being the most powerful in the world. In 2016, the most powerful was actually the Swedish passport.
It’s okay to ask for help
Trust me, some circuits are easy to research if a visa is needed (like Vietnam and Cambodia). Some countries have formed special alliances which don’t make it quite so clear. Whilst researching my Central American trip, I found that there were alliances between several different countries and whilst some didn’t require visas, some may have. Like Belize. Under certain circumstances (which I didn’t meet), Australian passport holders do need a visa to enter Belize. In the end, with some help, I determined that the only visas I actually needed to apply for is a Tourism Visa for Cuba, and an ESTA visa waiver for the week I was in the US.
But this magical help? I reached out to a friend who works as a travel agent, and she referred me to a brilliant site that helps make it a little more clear what I actually needed to do. It’s called VisasDirect, and is what she uses to help book visas. Now, I only used it to see the requirements for each country I was going for. However, it seems like you can actually choose to apply for some directly through the website. I didn’t use this feature, so I’m not entirely sure exactly how smooth it is. If you use it, let me know in the comments.
Now that I have all the visas that I need completed (or rather, I’m waiting anxiously for my passport to return in the mail), I can relax and just wait for my next trip to start. 28 Days till Cancun! If you need any advice, try posting in the comments and I’ll see if we can come to some sort of conclusion together! Just remember, I’m not a travel agent. Or otherwise, message me privately. If you use my contact form, none of the information that you provide will be realised to anyone else.
Notes – None of the websites listed here have paid to be featured in this post, I genuinely think they are useful in the planning process.