Long-term traveling conjures up never-ending images of scenic vistas and gleeful indulgences of local foods and culture. What usually isn’t fantasized about are the long, stressful hours spent acquiring visas and crossing borders. This is the raw, technical side of traveling that is scarcely discussed, yet still monumentally important to a smooth and successful trip. So scroll down below and acquaint yourself with tips and tricks to avoid common setbacks when moving from from country to country.
Transportation And Visas
So where do you begin planning your trip? Transportation is a good place to start. Getting familiar with finding and booking cheap transportation while traveling is incredibly important. Not only can good deals on transportation potentially save you hundreds of dollars, but buying tickets and planning out routes ahead of time sets the pace of your trip. In order to accurately figure out many of your other expenses, you’ll need to know how long you’ll be in each country, and what type of locomotion you’ll use.
Start with the first country you’ll be traveling to. Before anything else, look at the visa requirements for entrance. Every country has different visa requirements and these requirements differ depending upon which country issued your passport. For example, U.S. citizens are allowed to stay in Malaysia for up to 90 days without a visa. But if a U.S citizen decides to journey into Vietnam, they’d need to apply for a visa beforehand to stay for 1-3 months, otherwise they’d be turned away at the border or airport.
As can be seen, the requirements for entering each country are different. This can be intimidating for an inexperienced traveler, but it’s a manageable hassle. The key is to have a clear idea months ahead of time regarding where you’d like to travel. This way you can research the visa requirements for each country and compile everything you’ll need to apply for the visa. Once you’ve done that, it’s simply a matter of bringing your application and required documents directly to the country’s embassy, mailing them to the embassy, or completing the process online if available. The processing for a visa can take anywhere from 24 hours to 5 business days. If your country’s passport is exempt from requiring a visa to enter a country, then you can skip the above steps.
Remember, if you’re traveling long-term and on a budget, it’s beneficial to maximize the number of days allowed in each country. If your visa and/or passport allows you 90 days stay, that’s 90 days without having to fly elsewhere and pay new visa fees. Not to mention that residing in one location for an extensive length of time allows you to learn the ins and outs of a local area to more effectively live on a budget. You’ll also have a lot more time to prepare your visa and transportation plans for the next country you’ll visit.
Types Of Transport & Onward Flights
So let’s talk about modes of transportation in relation to visa requirements. Crossing borders via buses and trains is no doubt cheaper than taking a flight. You can get a train from Bangkok to the Cambodian border for roughly 2 USD. Where this becomes tricky is, once again, with the visa requirements. The amount of days you are granted to spend in a given country can differ depending upon whether or not you are crossing the border by land or by air. This is the case with Thailand. U.S. Citizens are automatically granted 30 days, no visa needed, when flying into Thailand, but only receive 15 days when they enter Thailand by land. In addition, if a U.S. Citizen gets a Thai tourist visa, they will be given 60 days but the visa is only applicable if they fly into Thailand.
Another key factor you need to be aware of when traveling is proof of onward flights. When applying for a visa, it’s very likely that you’ll be asked for proof of an onward flight such as an itinerary. Even if you need not apply for a visa to enter a country, there is always a small likelihood that the Immigration department will demand to see an onward ticket. On top of this, it’s also becoming more commonplace for airlines to require an onward ticket before they’ll print your boarding pass. They do this to comply with international regulations and avoid liability. Unfortunately, proof of onward travel by land, such as a train ticket, is not acceptable with many airlines or immigration departments.
This is why you should always give yourself plenty of time to plan ahead. The last thing you need to deal with is getting turned back at the border or an airport because you lack an onward ticket. So what do you do if you intend to travel to the next country by land? Your best option is to buy a cheap flight ticket which you can then cancel later on for a full refund. Cancellation policies differ depending upon which airline or travel agency you bought your ticket from.
Right off the bat, arranging for locomotion between countries can be an intimidating prospect. It’s an art which is perfected through experience and mistakes. The key component to success, which cannot be stressed enough, is to give yourself ample time and opportunity to prepare for each border crossing. Check and then recheck visa requirements beforehand to ensure you fit the qualifications. If you’re not up for a gamble, purchase an onward flight ticket where applicable to avoid being turned away. This all seems like busywork, but it’s the framework for your trip. If you can nail this, filling in the blanks will be much easier and stress-free.
Let’s go over a quick review so you can be confident that you haven’t missed anything. Keep in mind, that you’ll want to keep a carry a folder with you to keep track of the documents and copies you will be printing off. This helps keep everything organized and will aid you when dealing with checking in at airports or dealing with immigration control. With that said, here are the steps:
1.Find the country you would like to travel to, preferably several months in advance.
2.Figure out the visa requirements for your destination. Make sure you read the requirements carefully and determine which ones apply to crossing the border by plane and/or land.
3.If a visa is required, figure out where to apply -whether the process is done online or directly at an embassy- and obtain it well in advance.
4.Purchase an onward flight. If you can’t plan too far ahead or don’t want to leave the country by plane, consider buying a refundable ticket.
5.Compile all of your documents into a folder for easy organization(only paper documents, not your passport).
And that’s it. The process doesn’t seem so intimidating when compacted into only five steps. As mentioned before, planning your transportation and figuring out visas sets the bare framework for your trip. It’s not the most enjoyable process, but once you’ve made it to your destination, you’re free to get down to the meat of your trip and let loose.