Do you feel as though you’re stuck in the same-old never-ending routine? Is your work/ life balance imbalanced? Do the weeks fly by in a monotonous blur of constant repetition and boredom, where the “quantity” of the time you spend with loved ones far outweighs the “quality”? Throw caution to the wind, get a visa and do something new – you only live once. Sometimes travel can be complicated, especially when applying for a visa, though hopefully this article will provide useful pointers to simplify the process.
Photo via Christopher Elison
Once upon a time, back in the days when Britain had an empire and the earth was still flat, people could travel across borders without passports or visas. People communicated face to face, rather than through ‘the facebooks’, and a ‘holi-day’ for most people was the half-day break from work that people had on Sundays for going to church.
Today, however, we live in a different era. In order to travel to many countries around the world, you will require a visa.
Generally, a travel visa comes in the form of a stamp or a sticker that is placed on the recipient’s passport to allow them entry to a particular country. Depending on which nation you are planning to visit and for what reasons, you will have to go through a specific process to obtain the particular visa that you require.
Firstly – and I suppose that this should go without saying – in order to obtain a visa you will need to have a passport. For many countries, you must have at least 6 months of validity left in your passport in order to obtain a visa. Additional requirements differ vastly, depending on the type of visa that you wish to obtain, how long you hope to have it for, and which country you are going to.
European citizens: Schengen border-free zone
Photo via Nicolas Raymond
For citizens of the European Union, it is possible to travel to any other nation within the union without requiring a visa. For many countries within the Union, it is still necessary to carry a passport in order to cross the border.
However, when crossing from one border-free Schengen EU country to another neither a passport nor an ID card is required.
The countries within the Schengen border-free zone include:
When visiting the USA
Photo via Nicholas Raymond
Depending on your home country and your reasons for travel, you may be eligible for the VWP (Visa Waiver Program). Under this policy, you must apply online for an esta-visa. This typically will cost around $14 – and you should never pay more than this amount.
The policy is available for travellers who wish to enter the USA for business or pleasure, for a period of no more than 3 months. In order to be eligible for the VWP, you have to belong to one of the following nations:
For all other visitors to the Unites States, you will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa. Click here to go directly to the relevant forms.
After filling in the online form and uploading a photograph, you will need to schedule an interview at your nearest embassy or consulate. Often, waiting times can be lengthy, and for this reason it is always best to apply well in advance of the date that you wish to travel.
Last-minute Visas – Visa on Arrival
Several countries, thankfully, offer a “visa-on-arrival” system for travellers that haven’t applied in advance. Be sure to check online to make sure that the country of destination provides this option – sometimes it is dependent on the airport that you arrive at, and your own nationality. It will always cost you an additional fee, so be sure to allocate a bit of cash in anticipation of this.
Countries that offer visas on arrival include Turkey, Thailand, Cambodia, Tanzania, Vietnam and China. Always make sure to read the specific criteria relating to this online before booking your flights – with Vietnam for example, your application will need to be submitted online before you travel.
Space Travel – International Space Station
Photo via NASA Goddard
If, like Sarah Brightman, you wish to spend $60 million to take a 10-day visit to the moon aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft then it would be wise to check out the specific visa requirements for extra-terrestrial travel. Space tourism has become increasingly fashionable over the past decade, and is only expected to grow in popularity.
To avoid the risk of being turned away at the space station, you should apply well in advance for a moon visa. Details can be obtained through NASA by sending an email to email@example.com. When submitting your query, be sure to include a subject line and do not include any attachments, or your question may go unanswered.
For more tips from me about planning your holiday, check out Myths and Legends Regarding Air Travel