The idea of packing their bags, booking the tickets on a moment’s notice and leaving for some unknown destination sounds tempting to most people. I used to read a lot of Travel magazines and dream of getting on a plane and never looking back. But the reason why the articles were never truly accurate is because they were not written by people with Indian passports.
Yes, I do love to travel and if you are reading this on my blog, chances are that I don’t need to prove that to you. But getting to the level of being a ‘spontaneous traveller’ is still far away from my reach. It’s all because travelling with an Indian passport is a lot more complicated than it may seem. Having the dream or passion for traveling is not enough. The Visa requirements and endless amounts of paperwork are tedious enough to crack your patience and de-motivate you to give up on your hopes to travel the world.
On one hand, U.S. and U.K. citizens can travel more than 150 countries without a Visa while on the other hand; Indians get this luxury only for 29 countries at the moment (mostly South-Asian) and there are approximately 38 countries where Indians obtain the Visa on arrival. Some of these 59 countries are not tourist-friendly for various reasons hence they don’t even count.
But again, I truly believe that if you really want something to happen, you should take your chances and overcome the hurdles, instead of just sitting and waiting for destiny to take over. The Visa situation is something which will not change overnight and hence you have two options on your hands- you either wait for the change or deal with it. It may be tough, but it’s not impossible to make the best of your chances if you plan it in a way where the opportunity to travel can be maximised. Here are some lessons learnt by me, on my foreign adventures.
How to Start:
It’s actually pretty simple; if you have made up your mind to travel abroad but you’re worried about the application of visa procedure and documents, start by visiting the countries where Indians don’t need a Visa permit. Out of the 59 countries, if you remove 10 names off the checklist for whatsoever reasons, you still have 49 countries where Indians can actually travel without a visa. The figure may sound low when in comparison with the U.S. and U.K. citizens but travelling to these 49 countries itself takes some serious commitment and a true love for travel. Cambodia, Seychelles, El Salvador, Ecuador, Bolivia, Bhutan, Myanmar, and Maldives are amongst the many others which allow visa-free or visa-on-arrival facilities to Indians.
My personal favourites are Cambodia, Thailand, Kenya, and Mauritius.
Travelling to Europe:
Every person I have met, who has even the slightest of interests in travelling has a ‘Euro Trip’ on their wish list. Europe is vast and beautiful, but travelling to Europe is not straightforward once you come to terms with the reality of Visas. There are 28 countries in the Euro-zone. Luckily, there exists a life-saver called the ‘Schengen Visa’. The Schengen visa is one of the most common visas needed to visit the member countries of Schengen Agreement. The important point to be noted is that not all of the Euro-zone countries are a part of the Schengen agreement. Only 22 out of the 28 Euro-zone countries are a part of Schengen visa- Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Ireland, Romania and the U.K. are not. But the thought of only one Visa being needed to visit 22 European countries, should be enough to motivate you to do your dream Euro trip. I will be writing two very important posts only to explain Schengen visa in detail and some of my experience while applying for it.
Countries like Andorra have a different system. As I have mentioned in my previous post(ADRIFT IN ANDORRA..), Andorra has no airport and the only way to enter the country is by road either from the Spanish or the French border. This means that you would need to get a multiple entry Schengen visa to visit Andorra. Andorra as a country does not need Indians to have a visa but to get into the country, you will have to get to Spain or France (both Schengen members). To get out of Andorra, you’ll need to re-enter one of those countries which is why a multiple entry Schengen is a must.
For visiting Australia, U.K. and the U.S., you will have to apply separately for a ‘Tourist Visa’, the good thing being that they tend to have a longer validity. The U.K. and Australian tourist visas are usually valid for 6 months and U.S. may extend up to 10 years. Obtaining these Visas are the most difficult and might be a huge headache but once you acquire them, they are worth it.
Yes, you can do it:
If you do your research on how many countries you would be able to visit if you plan things properly, you will see that it’ll take ages to cover all of them. These places are magnificent and will make you fall in love with travelling- enough that you will no longer think of the Visa procedure to be a big hassle. You’ll eventually become habituated with planning, getting things done on time and you will know where to look for whatever you need. Not having the right resources or the right information causes countless dreams to go in vain. Everything seems much complicated from the top but once you get to the bottom of things, it’s all be a part of your adventures.
So pack your bags, and start wandering.