Planning trips is always an exciting thing for me. Booking the trip is something I really enjoy, trying to find the best price, that fits into a schedule I can manage with my life, and get the most miles out of the experience… all of this is enjoyable. Recently, American Airlines was offering $500 fares from Chicago to Beijing, China and I took advantage. Flying to Beijing will be critical in me achieving Executive Platinum status this year. One thing that must be kept in mind when taking advantage of these trips is applying for a visa.
Visa’s are something that can easily be overlooked, especially as a US citizen. US citizens have really good access to many countries. This is also fairly common in the EU as well. Since this is the case, it is very easy to overlook the cases when you do need a travel visa, and knowing which countries require them can be a hastle.
As an example let’s look at my travel history over the last few years. My first foreign trip was to England, no visa needed. Going to Australia, visa needed but you just need to apply online prior to arrival if a US citizen. France like much of the EU doesn’t require a visa. Argentina doesn’t require a visa, but does require US citizens to pay a reciprocity fee, which is designed to charge US citizens the same amount as the US charges Argentinian citizens for travel visas to the USA, in this case $160. South Korea, South Africa, and New Zealand require no visa for US Citizens. United Arab Emirates gives US citizens a visa upon entering the country, no additional steps required, essentially like not needing a visa.
China is very different though and not only requires a visa, but requires that the passport be handed over to a consulate in person by someone. The visa will then be placed in the passport. These visas can be good for up to 10 years, but the process is complicated. In order to get all of this done, I’m planning to use a visa service called Allied. They specialize in hand delivering documentation and passports to consulates that require in person delivery. They will get everything arranged including fees, stamping of passports, paperwork and all so that you don’t need to fly to DC, or New York, or your local consulate to gain a visa.
Allied is a good option for the Chinese visa, or the odd visa that may require extra steps. All other visas can often be dealt with online fairly easily if anything is required at all. Just remember that if you are planning a visit to another country, double check their visa requirements before going, and give plenty of time to deal with those paperwork requirements. This is an important step that is needed, not giving yourself enough time could either cost you the entire trip, or a significant amount of money to have a visa expedited. Usually these are fairly painless, and quickly can move you on to enjoying your vacation/trip.