Now you know I have some experience when it comes to visas… Let’s all just take a moment and think back to my India Disaster and you know that I’ve been through the ringer. The thing is, most websites that hold visa information are SHIT! It’s like they hired the worst website designer and just decided to put a BUNCH of text with EVERY law ever created and put it on a website.
Not only is the information tough to get, there are always exceptions to the rule that they hardly ever disclose. This could be because it’s a third world country and they need the money from all the fines you’re going to be paying… OR they simply don’t care enough to have the information available to the public. I could write for hours about visas because there are so many different types:
- Visas acquired at the border for land travel (by bus or car)
- Visas acquired at the counter when you land from your flight
- Electronic visas that must be booked in advance but then received on arrival
- Electronic visas that need to acquired weeks before travel
- TERRIBLE visas that require you to go to embassies MONTHS before
- Visas that require you to submit over a dozen documents, pay a small fortune (including your ticket even though you don’t have a visa in hand) – and you might not even get it
This list can go on and on… In short, visas are crap but there have been some tricks I’ve learnt over the last 10 years of travel.
- ALWAYS check what vaccinations you need. Money or even photos can be acquired at the border but when it comes to vaccinations, you’ll be rejected on the spot. Some vaccinations need to be in your system for a few weeks before you travel so check that as well!
- Keep both colour and black and white passport photos on you at all times. You never know when you’ll need them and often they’ll charge you as much as $100 for your photos at the border.
- Keep a photocopy of your passport and a certified copy if you can! If, for some reason, your passport is taken from you because the border police are looking for a bribe of some kind OR your passport is stolen – it could seriously come in handy when having to prove that you, in fact, have a visa for the country you’re currently in.
- Check the rules and regulations for your specific country. Visa pages and embassies always like to tell you the generic rules for the ‘bigger’ countries and always leave out the little guys. South Africa is often left out of the ‘rule’ and normally has some additional exceptions you need to follow.
- Check what currency the visa needs to be paid in and make sure you have enough on you! Sometimes, they like to put a spanner in the works and have some strange rule of making the payment in their currency versus more ‘universal’ money like dollars or pounds.
Will definitely make a Part 2 of this post, visas have destroyed so many holidays because they’re forever changing.
BONUS TIP: Visas change all the time, if you’ve been to a specific country 12 months before – STILL check to see if there have been any changes or requirements for the visa in question. There is a lot going on in the world right now and agreements between countries are continuously changing so make sure you’re staying on top of it.
Lastly, don’t let the workload behind a visa put you off your trip – many people before you have done it and so can you! It’s worth every painstaking moment.