Getting a Visa

Getting a visa in your passport is fun and exciting because it looks cool in your passport and it means you’re going someplace far away. It is also expensive and can be a real tedious process. Visas are however, a necessary evil in order to get into many countries around the world and shine as a glaring example of beaurocracy at its finest.

The most important thing to do before you plan/budget a trip or buy any tickets is to find out about the visa situation in that country you are trying to go to. As an American passport holder, there are many countries that require us to have visas to enter that don’t require that of other western nations because of the lovely process of reciprocity. This refers to the governments of other countries sticking it to US tourists because the mighty US government makes it so difficult for tourists from other countries to enter the United States.

Additionally, most African nations and most less developed Asian countries require visas. If you are visiting a region in Africa or in Asia, it is imperitive that you check the visa situation before you leave home to avoid delays and possible deportation. You need to be aware if they issue visas at airports upon arrival and more importantly if you are traveling overland, if they issue visas at land borders and the particular border that you will be crossing. This is very important because if you haven’t arranged for a visa before leaving your home country then you could see yourself being sent back to where you came to get a visa from that countrys embassy. This can be very time consuming, costly and annoying.

The US State Department offers a very informative website detailing the Consular Information Sheets from every other country on Earth and it is very helpful. It is under my useful travel links tab on my main page and I use it as a lifeline in planning trips. Additional resources in helping to plan for visas are guidebooks such as Lonely Planet and Lets Go where they more intimately describe which borders are open/closed and which offer visas, etc. This is a very useful piece of information because you can save a lot of money if you get visas at borders as opposed to buying them in the US or your home country because they are always more expensive. The kicker is of course, then you are all set and don’t have to worry about dealing with it on the road.

I always buy them ahead of time because usually I am in a time pinch and don’t like to waste time dealing with embassies on the road, especially in the third world. But in places like Cambodia or Vietnam for example you can save a lot of money buying them in Bangkok instead of in your home country. However, for places in Africa, it’s always advised to buy them ahead of time to avoid shakedowns and impossibly long delays with no explanations.

The pains and costs of visas aside; when you’re flipping through your passport to see all the places you’ve been the visas are the best part because they take up the whole page; they’re usually very colorful and half the time they are in a language you don’t speak so it makes it more fun because you don’t know what to expect!

Sharing is caring!


  1. Visas are always more expensive to buy in the US plus you have to pay to send them to DC or wherever their consulate is.

Speak Your Mind