Sunday, May 08, 2005

Doing away with hassles while traveling abroad

Many people go through a lot of trouble while traveling abroad. It could range from passport problems to not having proper immigration clearance. If you take proper steps, you can do away with all these disappointments. Some of the things you have to be aware of while traveling abroad are as follows :
  1. Most embassies and consulates will not issue visa if the passport expires within the next six months.
  2. There should be enough blank pages to stamp the visas on. If there are no more pages left in the passport, apply for a new booklet. It takes between 15 to 20 working days to issue the booklet.
  3. Make sure that you do not require immigration clearance each time you travel abroad. The best way is to get an 'Immigration clearance not required' endorsement on your passport. All you need to do is submit your graduation mark sheet or copies of your income tax returns for the last three years. Those over 65 years of age do not require immigration clearance.
  4. Take 12 passport size photographs of yourself as most visa applications must be accompanied by photographs taken not more than six months ago. Do not submit copies in your passport as that is a sure giveaway that they have not been taken recently.
  5. Pre-plan your itinerary before leaving the country as it is near impossible to get visas abroad. Plan in advance and determine which type of visa you require - be it transit, single double or multiple entry.
  6. If you are flying connecting sectors, like Mumbai-Milan-Berlin, for instance, carry a handbag with essentials - toothpaste, a change of clothes - as the checked in baggage reaches the final destination.
  7. Important: Reconfirm your return ticket at the port of destination 72 hours prior to flying or run the risk of being told at the airport that you have been knocked off the flight.
  8. If possible, request a through check on all connecting sectors of your flight (get boarding passes for all the sectors in advance).
  9. Make sure that your baggage tag shows the connecting sectors, like Florence-Milan-Mumbai, for example, and that the final destination is clearly marked - in our example Mumbai.
  10. Once you land, always check what public transport is available between the airport and the city center. Most airports abroad have excellent connections to city centers with luggage facilities at 1/5th of the cost of hiring a taxi. Many bigger hotels also provide free transfers.
  11. If you have booked a hotel from India, try to get as many landmarks as possible. This will save you time and effort trying to locate the hotel.
  12. Lastly, it also helps to find out the current Indian customs limits / rules on dutiable items as government rules keep changing. This will save you a lot of heartburn.

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