The world is a vast and exciting place, beckoning with diverse cultures, stunning landscapes, and unique experiences. International travel promises adventures of a lifetime, but without proper preparation, it can easily become stressful. With thorough planning and meticulous attention to details, you can remarkably enrich your travel experience. Hence, here is a quick guide to ensure a seamless and stress-free international travel experience.
Choose your dream destination
The first step in planning your international travel is to choose your destination wisely. This is the foundation of your journey, setting the tone for the experiences you’ll encounter. Invest time in thorough research. Consider the culture, climate, language, and personal interests. Create a shortlist to help narrow down your options, ensuring you pick the destination that resonates with your heart and soul.
Understand visa requirements
Once you have selected the destination, it is advisable to plan your visa application well in advance. It is as essential as booking flights and stay. Given the demand-supply gap in outbound travel from India since the restart, early visa application has become imperative. Many countries accept visa applications up to six months before the travel date. Hence it is worthwhile to invest quality time and understand the visa requirements of the country one is visiting. A seamless way to make an informed decision is to visit the website of external service providers such as VFS Global (www.vfsglobal.com). Simply by typing in the country where one is travelling from and the one that you plan to visit, as your destination of choice, the user-friendly navigation experience makes travellers better equipped for the visa application process. Calculate holistic costs, including visa expenses
While planning your international journey, it’s crucial to consider the holistic costs involved including the cost of applying for visas. Informed travellers who follow the checklists and instructions issued by the government of the country one is visiting should prepare to two primary expenses – the visa fee (Government charge) and a service fee to external service providers such as VFS Global. These charges are approved by the respective governments during the procurement process and is determined on various factors such as scope of the overall engagement, volume of applications expected, resource and infrastructure costs required to fulfil the Service Level Agreements etc.For example, in the case of Schengen countries, the service fee for short stay visa can go up to a maximum of 40 Euros (approximately INR 3500) as per the EU Visa code regulation. The service fee is different for each country according to what governments approve.
Consider visa processing timeline
Visa processing timeline can vary significantly from one country to another. For your peace of mind and to avoid last-minute hassles, check the estimated processing times for your visa application. Many governments provide these updates on their websites. It’s generally recommended to apply for your visa well in advance of your travel date. A late or delayed visa can throw a wrench into your travel plans, so make sure to plan in advance accordingly.
Read the fine print
Before submitting your visa application, read the fine print carefully. The devil is in the details when it comes to visa applications. Understand the requirements, necessary documentation, and any specific rules or regulations for your chosen destination. Missing even a minor detail could result in delays or, worst case, a visa rejection. Attention to detail is paramount to ensuring a smooth application process.
International travel is an exciting and life-enriching experience that can broaden your horizons and create lasting memories. However, to make the most of your adventure, it’s essential to plan and prepare thoroughly. By following the steps outlined in this guide, from choosing your destination to understanding visa requirements, calculating costs (including those for your visa), and considering processing timelines, you can ensure a stress-free international journey.
The author is Chief Operating Officer – South Asia, VFS Global
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