When you plan to travel abroad, once you have decided which country you would like to visit, you must start with your google research. Only doing research on the places you will be visiting is not enough. Now-a-days, everything has become quite easy because of technology. So, take the maximum benefit of the same. Question is what are the different things you must thoroughly check in google search engine?
1.VISA: To visit another country, first you need to have is a valid passport. There are some countries where you may not need a visa to visit as a tourist and some countries will give you the visa on arrival. There are some countries, to which you need to apply for the visa atleast a month or two before your date of travel. Now, here comes the need for your research. Suppose you want to visit France then you can just type in google “France visa procedure from India”. You will get a lot of information on the France visa website. Once you have gone through your basic research, the next you can decide if you are confident enough to apply for the visa by yourself. If not, then you need a professional visa agent to help you with the required formalities.
2. GET YOUR FILE READY: Once you are aware from the google search engine or from your visa agent that what are the papers you need to be ready with, start preparing your file with all the required documents. The personal documents you need to have are your valid Passport, IT return, latest bank statement, your financial documents to support the trip. Apart from your personal documents you will need the trip related documents such as the duly filled in visa form, travel insurance, to and fro flight tickets and also the hotel bookings if you are not going to stay with any friend or family. If you have a friend or family you plan to stay with then you need to have a letter of invitation from them mentioning that your stay will be taken care of by them. Depending on whether you are applying for the visa by yourself or through an agent, you need to submit all the required documents along with the visa fee. Every country has a different procedure you need to follow to get the visa. For some countries, there is a requirement for biometric followed by an interview and for some just the biometric. So, once you submit your file, you will start getting the dates for the biometric and then the interview if required as per the country of travel. It may take anywhere between 15 working days to a month or more to get the visa for different countries respectively. So, definitely be prepared with that much of time frame in hand before your date. I will advise that do your google research first and then speak to a professional visa agent. If you are travelling for the first time then taking help of a visa agent is a wise call.
Ok, so now the important part we have taken care of and that is getting the visa. While applying for the visa, you have also taken care of your travel insurance, flight tickets and the hotel bookings. You are almost set. Now, my next suggestion will be that please wait for the next steps till you have the passport with visa on hand. Once you have got the passport back with visa stamp on it, start planning for the trip. Ok, please do not feel discouraged if your visa was rejected. It may happen that there was some sort of discrepancy in your papers. Or, maybe in the interview the purpose of your visit to that country you explained was not very clear to the official sitting in front. Remember, for any country until and unless you have applied for a work visa or student visa (which have different procedures to follow ofcourse), you are visiting the country as a tourist. So, they want you to come back to your home country within your visa period. In your documents and also in your interview you need to put your message across very clearly that you will be visiting as a tourist and come back within your visa period. Of course, they will also do your background check from your documents that you are not involved in any felony or illegal activities etc.
3. PACKING: You have a valid passport and a valid visa. Now it’s time for you to plan your packing. Different airlines have different baggage policies. Number of kgs or lbs per passenger, number of bags allowed depending on the class of seat (economy/business/first), rules on carrying electronic gadgets, rules on travelling with pet, rules on liquid you will be carrying with you like shampoo, conditioner, hair oil, shower gel, perfume, body lotion etc. So, you must do a proper google research on all these questions you will be having. For example, you may not be allowed to carry more than 100 ml of body lotion in your hand luggage or else at the security, you will have to just throw your lotion into the trash. So, if you want to avoid these kinds of unpleasant situations better you do your google research or you can even call the airline customer care and find out. Ok, I understand a lot of Indians have the habit of carrying snacks, spices, plant seeds etc. Now, that invites a little more trouble. Understand one thing; if at the customs in a different country they stop you and question you about the spices you are carrying, they are doing absolutely right. They don’t know if you are carrying spices or drugs. So be ready for the questioning and also be ready for the situation that they may ask you to throw your spices into the trash. Throw away those spices or please do not carry them. You are just going there for few days and you can live without your favourite spices and enjoy the local food and spices of that country where you are visiting to explore their culture and their food. Or, if you have to carry them, check with the airline customer care in advance and find out their rules on those spices you can’t live without.
4. MEDICATIONS: If you are under some treatment or you are just taking a few vitamin pills, carrying a proper prescription is advisable. Since you will be having your travel insurance, incase of any medical emergency you can visit the enlisted hospitals or doctors but if you are on a regular BP medication or diabetic medication, carry your doctor’s prescription along with your regular medicines. At the customs, they might want to check the prescription for your medicines you are carrying, to make sure they are not any illegal drugs.
5. TYPE OF CLOTHES: Before you start thinking about your clothes you will be carrying, check on the weather of that country during your trip. If it’s winter then you need to have warm clothes. Now, suppose you are going to New York in December. You are travelling from say… Delhi. Oh dear! Do not think it is just going to be a Delhi winter. It will be snowing in New York in the month of December. So, make sure you are ready for that amount of chilled weather once you land there. So, do a little research on the weather during your trip and think of only those clothes and shoes which you can wear at that time of the year and at that location. Do not forget that your extra luggage weight will cost you extra money at the airport. Once your luggage is ready you can even weigh your luggage before going to the airport to make sure you are carrying the allowed weight.
6. GLOBAL ADAPTER: Very small but if we ignore this point then we may put ourselves into a little bit of stress. It sounds like a small thing but just imagine if your mobile charger pin is not compatible to the plug point of that country. Every country has different style of plug point. So, please make sure you carry one global adapter for your chargeable devices.
7. SIM CARD: Check with your phone network service provider for their plans when you are travelling abroad. If that sounds expensive then there are companies who provide you temporary SIM cards for one country or multiple countries. You may want to carry a sim card with you so you can stay connected wherever you are. You will need to connect with your friend, family or hotel once you land in that country.
8. CURRENCY: Get good knowledge about the currency of that country where you will be visiting. You will either have to convert some currencies from your own country or you may carry one multi-currency Forex card with you and avoid carrying multiple cards. Forex card has the facility of multiple currencies loaded on the same card. Especially, if you are travelling to multiple countries.
At last, I would say keep watching the YouTube videos of that country or the city you will be visiting. The favourite tourist activities in those cities, the local food, the shopping zones, other favourite activities that place is known for etc. So, stay excited but plan your trip wisely and have lots of fun.
Stay tuned for my next travel blog post at musingsofmyink.com