How it is Traveling on a Third World Passport

Traveling is fun but the fact remains, it’s not the same for everyone and I am not talking about not having the money to do it. This is mostly about the struggle to get visas for certain passports. Different people will have their own story to share when it comes to this. I have been lucky enough to have traveled for quite a while and I have to say I was mostly oblivious to the huddles we go through to get visas until recently. My boyfriend wanted us to do a city trip in Europe but then he would mention certain places and I would be like “I need a different visa for that”. I think that’s when it hit me how lucky and privileged some people are. He has a Belgian passport, not the best in the world but better than my Kenyan Passport.

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He was telling me how he packed up his bags after school and bought a one way ticket to go backpacking. I know people with third world passports who have done that but I am pretty sure the procedures they had to go through were more intense than what he went through. It’s so easy for him to come to Kenya but a lot harder for me to go to Belgium. He could make plans to come to Kenya in a week and I need to plan this out like three months before I decide to travel. It’s crazy! There is nothing that pisses me off more than trying to get a visa. That’s a lie, there are many other things that piss me off like when it’s really hot and humid.

So there are some things I get to experience that he doesn’t. Even when you have all the money in the world, the procedures still have to be followed. And the procedures can be tedious and off putting but then again, it was just so normal that I never noticed the hassle before. Now that the glass has been broken, I feel exhausted going through it. I have listed three things that third world passport holders experience.

CANNOT TRAVEL ON A WHIM

You can never just wake up and decide I want to be in Paris over the weekend. I used to watch movies when I was younger and think that’s how the world operates when you have money. Planning spontaneous trips with you friends and just packing your bags and running to the airport. That’s not the reality.

You can never be surprised by your boyfriend and taken to Rome or Paris just because. There was this girl complaining that she knew where her honeymoon was going to be because of the visa interview. She also knows that the fiancé asked for a multi entry Schengen Visa which means they will be in and out of the Schengen area. Now, she is waiting to see what other interview she will be taken to and that will tell her which other country they will be in but she suspects it could be Scotland or Turkey. The poor guy tried so hard to keep it on the down low but she already knows where her honeymoon will start long before they have said their vows.

You know those romantic movies that show someone being driven to the airport and take to wherever? Forget that. That’s not in your lane unless you are being taken to countries that can give you a visa at the airport or even those that don’t need one. Don’t worry, you have options and your significant other just needs to be aware of them. Getting that information might be hard for some nationals. The information made available on the internet has improved for many Third World Countries (Can I just mention how much I hate that term?) but it is not as wide as what is put out there for the Americans and most Europeans.

But don’t forget, you can travel on a whim to some countries. It’s not all that bad. For Kenyans, I will give a list of these countries at the end of the article.

PAY THE FEES WITHOUT A GUARANTEE

Everyone who needs a visa knows they have to pay for it. I believe all foreigners need to pay something even if you get your visa at an airport. But the difference comes in when getting that visa is not guaranteed. You will be committing your money to something that’s not assured. I lost mine in September because I didn’t reschedule my interview. I wonder if I can still use it if I schedule an interview early next year. The tale about that misfortune will be shared soon.

The other thing you need to have paid for is travel insurance. If your health insurance does not cover this, you have to pay the extra cost for insurance to cover you for the time you will be away. You have to make sure to check the companies the Embassy accepts insurance from because they don’t allow all of them. There are quite cheap ones out there that are around KSHS 5000 ($50). I paid for one that I did not get to use, and I cringe when I think about it. I’m a frugal extravagant person if that makes any sense at all.

The other thing you have to consider is accommodation and flight booking. Now this can be easy if you know how to go about it. You are advised not to buy your ticket before getting the visa so your safe bet is booking one. The booking can be about $40 and you get to print it out and take it with you to the Embassy. Don’t cancel the booking until you have the visa.

That’s money going in without a guarantee that you will get the visa.

As for accommodation, you can go through the hassle of getting an invitation letter from someone you know from the country which will require you to show your relationship with them. I have always used my sister and the thing I need is a copy of her residence permit, work contract, copy of her passport and birth certificate. If you don’t want to go through that, use booking.com. You can make reservations and don’t have to pay for it as long as the cancellation is done at the right time.

LIMITED LENGTH OF STAY

One way ticket to Europe? That is not a privilege many of us get to enjoy.  That does not mean you cannot get a long stay visa but you have to provide the documents necessary to back up your request. But most of them are tied to short stay and of course it depends on which country. It mostly ranges between 30 to 90 days and with the Schengen visa I have never needed one that’s more than thirty day. The longest I have been there was I think 30 days and they gave me a 35 day visa.

That’s the other thing, the visa will be around your dates of travel from you booking and what you fill out in the form.

BRIGHT SIDE OF IT ALL

You can still travel as long as all your documents are in order. Make sure you have done your research on what is needed and given yourself enough time. The experiences are not all bad as long as you have the necessary things. There are people who hold the ‘dreaded’ passports and still travel all over the world. Have your savings in check and take your time, you don’t have to be doing it frequently. Don’t let anyone pressure you into thinking it should be easy for you as it is for them. I have seen too many travel bloggers who make me think it must be so easy to go about it but just because it’s easy for them it doesn’t mean it is for you.

I am very grateful I have never gone through some of the horror stories I have seen going around the web but I will share my worst experience soon.

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