Over the years, we’ve traveled far and wide. At this point, we’ve visited over 50 countries! Of course, Zara carries a Portuguese passport and this is not big deal for an EU passport holder. However, for me and my Indian passport, it’s definitely a matter of huge pride. As an Indian passport holder travel isn’t as simple as saving some cash, making some bookings, and flying away. We often have an additional step that we must deal with – visas. I’ve written a lot about my visa experiences while traveling the world on an Indian passport.
Bureaucracy is stressful in general. Travel, especially when it comes to vacations, is the one thing that people hope would be free from the bureaucratic hassles that we often encounter in everyday life. However, the all too real truth for Indian passport holders is that even our travel plans require trips to embassies and interactions with unhappy staff and very invasive ‘credibility checks’.
When it comes to “international politics” human rights and dignity are often the first to go out the back door
If you’ve never applied for a visa, then you should know that people from developing countries have to submit proof of pre-arranged travel (flight tickets, hotel reservations), bank statements for at least 6 months, and many times even their tax returns! The reasoning behind this is that embassies want to make sure, before they grant you a visa, that you won’t become an illegal economic migrant in their country. It’s more than a little dehumanizing, to say the least, but when it comes to “international politics” human rights and dignity are often the first to go out the back door. If you’ve never been in “Secondary inspection” at a US/UK/Canadian port of entry then you’ve probably never been typecast as a terrorist or undesirable. However, there is hope and I do believe that as tourism dollars from the developing world skyrocket, countries will come up with ways to vet us that are a little nicer on average. Perhaps there is a bright future for Indian passport holders indeed.
Even major travel agencies like Expedia have jumped on the bandwagon recognizing that the last thing people want to deal with are invasive visa arrangements. They’ve developed a tool that shows you the highlights of each country offering visa free travel to Indians. Using this tool, you can view the countries that offer visa free travel or visa on arrival for Indian citizens.
Countries that are more welcoming towards Indians definitely deserve more of our tourism money.
So how do we choose our destinations? At first, it was based on “Oh I really want to go there”. As we travel, we’ve come to realize that a lot of the most hyped destinations are sometimes coupled with disappointment. Some of the countries that we’ve enjoyed traveling in the most are countries that we knew nothing about. Take, Ecuador for example. It’s a country that is very far from India but offers visa free travel for Indians. We’ve started choosing more countries like Ecuador, those that offer visa free travel for Indians. After all, countries that are more welcoming towards Indians definitely deserve more of our tourism money.
Until I build up the mental strength required to go through more visa applications, we’re going to be choosing countries that are visa friendly for both of us. This means countries that are visa free, offer visa on arrival, or a hassle free online eVisa process. I’m going to have to say no for now to Japan, Australia, Morocco, and several other places that are on my wish list.
Of course, wherever we go, and whatever type of visa experience we have, you can always look forward to us writing about it on Backpack ME!