Pre-Trip Part III: Visas


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North America » United States
February 19th 2011
Published: February 19th 2011
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The next step is to get travel visas to be allowed into some of these countries. If the plane tickets were the longest part, the most stressful is getting visas for a multi-country trip. Visas requirements are always changing and several countries require you to use it within a given time period, which makes getting visas to the countries at the end of your trip difficult. For each visa, you are required to send your physical passport to that country's embassy, which means you can only get one at a time. Some countries take 3-5 business days, some take 20-25. Some countries charge $30, some charge $170 (and the prices just about double if you need them rushed). You can do this by yourself if you are looking to save some money but after one day of trying to do it myself and counting up how many days I needed compared to how many I have left, I gave up and went to a site several blogs and people recommended, Travisa.

At first I thought I needed to get visas ahead of time for 7 countries (Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, India, Laos, Vietnam), but as I researched further, Cambodia and Laos recently changed some requirements that allow you to get it when you enter. In addition, I needed more pages to be added to my passport due to my great travel experiences in the past (my oldest sister likes to call me an expert traveler but I prefer to keep my amateur status).

Then comes the mountain of paperwork! Each country requires different copies of things, here are just some of the things I had to get: 13 passport type photos ($60), copies of the first page of my passport, driver's license, birth certificate, latest bank statement, vaccinations, proof of departures, plane tickets, phone number of where you plan to stay and whatever application forms they want you to fill out. The main problem I had was regarding where I'm staying and the dates I will be there because these are things I'm not really planning ahead for. I did sign up for some tour groups in places where I heard it would be hard to travel by yourself when your only speak English, like China, and I will post on that later. In total, I had 103 pages of paperwork for 5 countries and I expect the final price will be slightly over $1,000. I sent this all away around Jan 24th, and they estimate my passport will be returned April 1st (4 days before I leave), I just hope I don't get rejected on any of them cause thats about as close as you can cut it.

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