A Quick Guide to Travel Visas

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A visa is a document (that is usually stamped into your passport) that gives you authorization to enter a country/area for a specific period of time (and for specific reasons). Not all countries require you to have a visa to enter (depending on where you come from).

What is a Travel Visa?

A travel visa (more commonly known as a tourist visa) is a specific type of visa that allows you to travel to a country for leisure/tourism reasons (meaning you’re not allowed to work there).

An alternative to this is the work and travel visa. A work and travel visa (also known as a working holiday visa), on the other hand allows you to undertake temporary work while you’re traveling/on holiday (usually as a way of paying for and extending your trip).

Applying for a Visa

Most of the time visas will be issued by a country’s embassy or consulate, but some travel agents also have permission to distribute certain visas.

Tourist VisaThere is no one single ‘best’ way of getting your visas, as it all depends on your trip and which countries you’re getting to. While it’s often easier to apply for all of your visas a long time in advance (before you set off), this isn’t always practical as some of them might expire before you’ve even reached that particular country.

Applying for visas as you go can often be less expensive and a lot less hassle (especially in South-East Asia), as many of the countries have links with each other (meaning you can apply for visas for several other countries from one place). For example, in Bangkok it’s possible to get travel visas for the surrounding countries (such as Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos).

If you are planning to pick up visas as you go, remember to take lots of passport photos with you and expect to be charged (sometimes a hefty amount) for each one.

If time is short, most countries offer a ‘fast visa service’ which allows you to speed up your application (for an extra cost, of course).

So how do you actually apply for visas when you’re on the road? If you’re traveling through an area that sees a decent amount of tourists each year, it’s most likely easier than you think. If you stay in hostels while traveling, most hostel owners/staff will be happy to assist you in applying for the necessary visa (for the next place you’re going to). They may tell you where you need to go and what you need to do, or they may even offer to do it for you (for a fee).

Single or Multiple-Entry Visas?

When traveling, always check whether the visas you’re getting are valid for single or multiple entries. If you’re traveling around one area a lot, it might be necessary (or desirable) to enter (and leave) the same country multiple times at different points in your trip. For this it’s best to have a visa that allows for multiple entries.

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