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Problems of Travelling Abroad: Visa, Money & More

Someone once said, “Great things never happen from staying comfortable.” And surprisingly,

this quote seems fit not only for travelling abroad, but also preparing to travel abroad. The process of even planning to go abroad is long-winded, with multiple boxes to be ticked. You need to apply for a visa weeks or months in advance, look for the best conversion rates, pack efficiently, and understand the local nuances of the country you are travelling to. If all these things run in your mind while preparing to travel abroad, you are not alone.

In 2016, 21.9mn people travelled abroad, and in the span of next 5 years, by 2025, this number is expected to grow by a whopping 110.5%, to 46mn people.

Hop has detailed the top 4 travel related issues most Indians face::

Visa

A visa decides the destiny of any foreign trip. You need to be careful while applying for a visa and should do it well in advance to avoid any issues. Be sure to check the following:

Documentation

Incorrect or insufficient documentation is one of the top reasons for rejection of a visa. Ensure you upload the latest documents (if applying online), reflecting the required information clearly and correctly. Recheck the details and ensure they are consistent on all the documents.

Awaiting Approval

If the visa application is taking too long, you may want to recheck the following:

Fee Payment:

Check if you’ve made the entire payment, and it has successfully reached the desired party. Most consulates or third party providers offer email and/or SMS services to track the application- right from payment to approval and collection. Paperwork: As mentioned earlier, double-check the documentation to avoid any delay in approval of your application. A slight oversight could lead to rejection.

Inadmissibility issues:

A health issue or a previous criminal record can also be a reason for the delayed response.

Pre Booking Risks

Some visas require you to pre-book flights and accommodation. If your visa doesn’t arrive on time, you could lose a lot of money through all these pre-bookings. So make sure you apply for a visa well in advance and allow yourself enough time before the trip for it to arrive.

Money

“We are travelling abroad in a month, so I’ll keep checking the conversion rates this whole week…” Conversion rates are the main monetary concern while travelling abroad. If the options were limited, you would go with one choice. But these days there are lots of options available, each with their own benefits and problems.

Cash

Cash is not only expensive to exchange, but is also unsafe to carry. Cash is not the preferred mode of payment in this increasingly cashless economy. Also, cash expenses are harder to track, so it may be difficult to calculate the overall expense at the end of the trip.

Forex Card

The registration process for a forex card is time-consuming, paper-intensive, and difficult to upload. The currency usually needs to be uploaded in the domestic country prior to departure. Reload process offshore, if available, is very tiring and incurs huge charges. Forex cards also have limited currencies, and multiple overheads such as cash withdrawal fees, SMS alert fees, etc.

Debit/Credit Card

One typically needs to be a privileged bank customer and need to obtain pre-authorisation for foreign travel. These cards almost always have hidden exchange rates and service charges for every transaction, along with huge mark-ups on currency exchange. Moreover, high street banks have legacy technology platforms which lack customer experience.

Travellers who use ‘travel friendly’ credit cards and forex cards end up paying a multitude of charges and huge mark-ups. Be sure to understand what you might be charged

ATM cash withdrawal fees
ATM balance enquiry fees
International SMS alert charges
Joining fee on contactless card
Reload fees/ inactivity fees
Cross-currency fees: 3.5% + Goods and Service Tax (GST)
Wallet-to-wallet transfer fee.

Health

When you are healthy, your trip is healthy. Of course, you could fall sick due to many reasons, but there you can take small steps to avoid illness.

Change in weather

Change in weather can make your body say goodbye to good health, and change your plans for the trip. So, check the weather in advance and dress sensibly, before you step out. It’s important that you carry your medicines from home since buying medicines abroad can be very difficult and expensive. Also, make sure you have a back-up of some basic medicines in your cabin baggage, just in case your checked-in baggage is delayed or lost. If you need to take prescription medication, ensure you carry your prescription (and additional copies) with you.

Jet Lag

Travelling across the multiple time-zones can be challenging for your sleep schedule. You could end up feeling tired, irritated, and drowsy. The best way to prevent this is to try and get some rest on the flight and sleep according to or as close to local time as possible on Day 1. Keep a laid-back itinerary for the first day so that jet lag doesn’t hinder your plans.

Food

Even though flights may offer suitable food options (you can pre-book your meal of choice), it’s not the case with all the holiday destinations. It is especially difficult for vegetarians, who struggle with food choices and even availability sometimes. Booking residential options such as Airbnb is a good option since it gives travellers the means to cook meals, which is both comforting and cost-effective. But definitely experiment with local cuisine and treat your palate to something new!

Cultural, social and linguistic differences

Travelling abroad is an experience of a lifetime because it’s a step into an entirely different cultural and social world! The difference in cultural traditions, religious beliefs, food availability, and, most importantly, the language can be inconvenient. Learning some basic conversational words in the foreign language can be helpful; as locals appreciate the effort you put into learning more about their culture. Food choices may be limited depending on the region, especially if you’re vegetarian. Dress appropriately if you’re visiting places of religious significance. It’s a good rule of thumb to study the country’s history and culture beforehand.

So, here’s a final checklist to add to your many travel checklists:

Apply for a visa on time and check all the documents properly
Carry basic medicines and prescriptions
Plan expenses carefully, including the means of expenditure
Read about the country/region to understand the history and cultural nuances.
Pack smart so you do not miss out on something important.

The bottom line is to be prepared!

Of course, even preparation doesn’t promise a smooth sailing trip. But, as Babs Hoffman said, “Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and enjoy the journey.” So, try to enjoy even the little bumps you face and make the most of your trip!

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