You have taken the plunge to travel overseas. Unlike an interstate trip you need passports and those sometimes, annoying visas. Costs add up quickly with a family of four. Not to mention if you are dual nationals as well. Let’s look at ways to save both time and money with hassle free passports and visas.
Passport costs vary country to country with Australia being up there with the most expensive. As is the Uk of which we have a combined 7 in the famiy. At $300 per passport there goes the savings straight away. Kids passports are worse as they only last half the time but cost 2/3rds of the adults. Why have two you ask? It comes in handy and is required by each country when entering. The simple way is to spread the cost by not applying for all at once. Nearly all of ours are spread over years so we don’t pay more than $500 in a year, skipping years in between. If you wait till you are set to go then your family of 4 is up for a cool $1000. Imagine that on your accomadation instead. Prepare early as well. They take time especially if it is your first. 3 months out is best, slightly less if you live in the capital cities.
Visas are either easy as pie or a painful headache. Most tourist countries offer visa on arrival. Indonesia (Bali), Thailand and Malaysia to name a few. Take note though as overland travel tends to give less time than airports. Guess they want only the rich tourists. Each country will give 30 days or more in some cases. As with all things travel make sure to do your research. Airlines won’t let you get on the plane without correct documentation.
If like us you are traveling for extended periods of time then 30 day visas won’t cut the mustard. We are heading off the beaten path so need to visit embassies to get our visas. This is where research is key. Getting our 60 day Thai visa we needed 2 photos plus the fee was in Baht which wasn’t easy to get in Laos. By doing the research on the internet before saved time and hassle. Using both the Thai embassy website and also fellow travellers advice I was prepared. I did everything before I left to go to the embassy including filling out the forms. Don’t forget I am doing this for 4 people! Set aside time as it always takes longer than you think. Government workers rarely hurry. Be prepared for the unexpected. We needed copies of our Laos visa to show where we were. Yes I was in the capital which made it pointless to me but just smile and nod. Everyone said get there early but as it turned out if you got there later you waited less. Unexplained government effciency at its best.
India at present seems the toughest. Many fellow travellers have asked for the usual 6 months only to be granted 3. All US passport holders so not sure if that is related. Every country has different rules for each. UK holders pay an extra $5 USD for the Laos visa compared to Australian’s. Hence why you have 2. Also great when you have to leave a passport as security. Keep the one you used for entering the country and use the Spare.
Reality is there are no short cuts or easy ways to get either passports or visas. Patience and planning are your two best friends. Of course being overly nice and polite I find does wonders especially when dealing with male officials. Let them be the alpha male and pretty quickly you will have your documents. Personally my record is a new citizenship certificate and New passport for Ollie in 7 days including the weekend. Considering we live 1800km from the nearest capital city and the citizenship certificate alone takes up to 60 days. Then and only then can you apply for the passport shows just how effective butt kissing can be!!
Any other exciting stories or experiences out there?