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!
A&Z, Japan does require a Visa but are very liberal towards Indians, especially the Mumbai Consulate. You will get your Visa within 3 to 4 business days, no questions asked for the most part, as long as you have sufficient funds to cover your trip. Not to mention you will receive one of the slickest and finely designed visas you have ever seen. You will not like to see visas from the other countries, including other G7 countries, after you see Japan visa.
Just last year, Japan opened multiple entry/ multiple year visas for Indians who meet certain criteria. Go for Japan, out of the 37 countries I have visited, it is the most unique, vibrant, kind, cultured, developed, disciplined and futuristic country I have every visited. It’s a must, I am sure you know that.
Lets hope things get easier. I’ve been through so many visa applications myself, and I know how much of a pain it can be. Indians (or at least the ones I know) love to travel, and as you say, the countries that encourage visa-free travel deserve more attention :)
I know this post is kinda old – I read through the notes where you mention you are deferring Japan and Australia.
I have travelled to Japan for work and Australia on a vacation and wanted to give you a heads-up on both.
1) Japan is an extremely fun place. Don’t write it off/defer it just on account of the visa regulations. Visa work is not complicated and I got it in about 2 weeks. It is also surprisingly easy to get around and there are lots of places to see / things to do. . . and the Japan experience is kinda unique.
2) Australia thus far is the most efficient visa application if I do need to get one before travel – they send it to you in an email and you don’t need to submit the passport to them. I got a tourist visa for AU and it showed up in my email about 1 week after I submitted the documents at VFS Bangalore.
I really liked the way you have presented your travels, on the site. I am planning to travel to Peru, Bolivia, Chile Ecuador and Columbia this August, flying to Peru from SFO. I have a valid B1/B2 visa to the US with 9 more years of validity. Would any of these countries have any objections with that as I have heard that some countries accept only green card or PR visas from US, and not the B1 or F1(which my brother has, who will be travelling with me). What is the safest approach for me to take?
Well I don’t know where you’ve heard any of this. Each country has their own visa regulations but those that offer exemptions (Peru/Colombia/Mexico) are usually based on US visas (including B1/B2 visas). A green card is not a requirement.
Some countries, namely Canada allows entry for US green card holders. However, the inverse does not apply for Canada’s permanent residency card holders.
I love your blog!! It makes so much sense, especially for a traveller with an Indian passport and a partner with an EU passport.