Thursday, 28 April 2011

Travel Hassles....

As the name suggests, I love to travel.
Sometimes for work, and sometimes for pleasure. Sometimes by road, sometimes by air. Sometimes local (in the same country) and sometimes international.
I am very familiar with airports, airport smells, hotels, hotel smells, rental cars, rental car smells....you get it.
I have a personal checklist I run through before I leave on any trip.
  • Laundry - I wash all my clothes (it’s a bit silly, but it’s always nice to think that if I never make it back home, at least people can say ‘She was a very clean and tidy woman!’). Bizarre – yes... 
  • Shopping - I stock up the fridge (to make sure there is enough food for when I get back. I hate heading straight to the shops right after a long journey)
  • Finances - I check my wallet and swap out the money. (I usually have a stash of foreign coins, so I just make sure they are accessible)
  • Travel documents - The most important thing I check is my passport. You see, I’m from a country that requires a visa to almost everywhere. This has never really stopped me from planning trips, I just need to make sure that I have the right visas in my passport for the country I want to visit.
And here lies my biggest issue with travelling 

The process of getting a visa can be quite stressful, (depending on which embassy you are going to). Planning for obtaining a visa needs to happen weeks before your travel date, in order to avoid any embarrassment. Gathering your relevant paperwork (birth certificates, marriage certificates, bank statements etc) needs to be done meticulously. Omit one document and you have very likely jeopardised your chances of getting that visa or visiting that country!

Thankfully, I haven’t had too many horror stories within the embassies, but I could regale you for days with stories of people’s experiences in embassies.

Another hurdle I mentally prepare for, is clearing immigration. I have to stress that with the state of the world today, immigration control is of utmost importance. It is pertinent to assess all travellers diligently, to ensure that the people you are letting into your country are genuine travellers.

I am always very conscious of the power that the individual in the cubicle wields. The immigration officer – the one looking through my passport. That lone individual – the one who can single-handedly decide whether or not I will enter that country.

I don't think it has anything to do with the visa on my passport. It has nothing to do with my bank balance. It’s not my fancy smart clothes or my well-spoken and respectful manner. It’s simply that immigration officer’s perception and judgement of my ‘true intent’ at that specific point in time. This is what they are trained to do, you see...

Travelling is great fun, but there are occasions when I wonder if the lines between prudent, diligent assessment and sheer spite are a bit hazy.... but I could be wrong.

Maybe we were both having a rough day....

5 comments:

  1. Gosh, so it is not just me.....l thought l might be locked up in Antigua as the customs lady and l growled at each other!!

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  2. The last thing you need having flown for hours on end is to arrive at your destination airport and be held up by some immigration officer who probably woke up on the wrong side of the bed or had a fight with his partner that morning and who sizes you up like some piece of meat at the butcher's pondering how best to make your life a misery!

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  3. @TLeaves1 - LOL!!! Grrr!!! Back off!!!
    @thewordsmythe - Hence, the fine line between judicious assessment and sheer spite!

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  4. that fine line actually starts from the visa office. if you are from a country where, like the author states, you need a visa to go anywhere interesting, that "well-spoken and respectful manner" is well honed from your home country and becomes second nature by the time you get to immigration #DEFINITELY no screaming matches here#

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  5. Sad though, how what should be a pleasurable experience, becomes so fraught with stress...

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