It’s a pity that most of us holding a third world passport only think of our limitations and not our advantages. When I first planned to travel the world as a long-term goal, I asked myself: where do I want to go? The answer was Africa. Upon studying the visa requirements and traveling around Africa, I came to a conclusion that it is quite difficult as most of the borders are militarised. Though it is possible to apply a visa even if you are not in your home country, there is no guarantee that you will be granted a visa in all the African countries.
Last week, a friend of mine got rejected in her visa application for Austria. She then asked me how is it possible for me to always be granted a visa and I told her the secret. This time, I want to give this advice to Patty, a reader from the Philippines who’s question lead me to writing the post. So what’s the secret?
Travel to visa-free countries first.
I know the majority of third world passport holders dreams and goals consist of going to Europe. With the increase of the number of illegal immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc who are fighting for their life to get out of their countries, the visa application process to Europe and the UK have been very very difficult. I know, I know. I know that you are not planning to stay in some place illegally; that you are a law abiding citizen of your country; that you are going to comply to all the requirements — but they don’t know that. Put yourself in the consul’s shoes: will you accept all the visa applications you receive everyday? No. They have all the right to reject applications most especially if they don’t see it fit.
Why would you push it? Why wouldn’t you consider traveling to visa-free countries? Do you even know the countries you are free to visit without a visa?
Traveling to visa-free countries is like honing your traveller profile. When applying for a visa, they will always ask for copies of your old passport to see how much you have travelled. Well, I don’t really know if you want to see that — I am just assuming because in every interview, they’ve asked about my previous travels a lot of times. For example, when I was applying for a visa to Argentina, they said it is not possible to get it if you are not applying in your home country. I insisted and said I am traveling long-term and there is no way I am going back to the Philippines just to apply for an Argentine visa. They asked me to come back after three days to see if they would consider it. Luckily, they did! I told them about my travel story because they were eager to know how I am able to live a life like this. They were very impressed with the number of stamps that I have in my passport.
The same thing also happened when I applied for a visa to Italy. I submitted an old passport full of stamps from Asia. “You’ve travelled a lot at a very young age,” they said. You see, consuls don’t have any idea of who you are so your passport serves as your resume. Though it is not a guarantee (it’s only one of the factors), I believe that having a ‘well-established’ passport really helps a lot.
If you’re new to traveling, this is the best way to establish your profile. Travel to visa-free countries first and save the others for later. I know that most of the countries that are in the list are not very interesting for you and I thought of that too! I never had any idea what Morocco was about before I went there. I only went because it’s visa-free. Today, I consider my 3-month trip to Morocco as one of the best memories of my life. I was surprised with a lot of things like food, culture and language. I also learned French in Morocco (can you believe that!)
I also want to add another advantage which makes it easier for me to apply visas: create a travel blog. I believe they are also ‘googling’ about our online presence when they are screening the visa applications. Either way, having a blog is the best resume for travellers. Whenever I tell people (or consuls) that I am a travel blogger, they smirk for a second and say, “you’re a what?” Then I will tell them about how long have I been blogging and the things that I write about. It’s a very effective conversation starter!
Having a third world passport is only frustrating when you are looking for what you don’t have. Focus on what you have (aka the visa-free countries), build your dreams from there and enjoy those countries in your list. I know you are not too encouraged to travel those countries (because no one knows about them) but every destination will offer a unique life experience. You just have to try and surprise yourself. 😉
Patty, I highly suggest that you save Europe for later and start with the countries that we Filipinos can visit without a visa. It’s hassle-free and will have long-term results. Maybe you fancy South America? 😉
Cover photo courtesy of Etsy.
Questions? Violent reactions? E-mail trishavelarmino[at]gmail[dot]com!