Getting Visas For Different Countries On A Bike Tour

“Remember that part in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy arrives in Emerald City?
She knocks on the door, giddy with excitement, and asks to be let inside.
Remember what the moustached guard says? ‘Ain’t no way, ain’t no how!’
Applying for visas is kind of like that.
” – Mike On A Bike

Visas are a necessary evil. You can’t go too far from home without needing at least a few of these official documents in your passport, but getting visas can be stupidly complicated.

Cambodian Visa

In general, the only rule about applying for visas is that there are no rules. How easy or hard it is to get your visa depends on:

  • Your nationality
  • The political situation at the time
  • Whether you want to pay for a rush service (if there is one)
  • The general whims of the officials working behind the counter

Sometimes it’s an easy, straight-forward procedure that is completed within a day or even at the airport.

Other times you have to elbow your way through a queue, make repeated runs to the bank and pretend not to be annoyed when the bureaucrat in charge tells you he’s not opening the office today, because there was a big party the night before and he’d rather sleep (yes, this happened to us). Usually you can apply for them on the road but occasionally you have to apply from your home country.

A further complication is that the rules are always changing, and usually visas need to be used a few weeks or months after they’re issued.

That means you can’t apply for them too far in advance and there’s no point in obsessing about where you’ll get every last visa before you leave on an extended trip. What is possible when you set out from home may be impossible by the time you get closer. Sometimes wars and diplomatic squabbles will spoil your party. Other times you’ll find old enemies making peace with one another, paving the way for a route you never considered before.

Just a few passport photos
Just a few passport photos from a world bike trip.

What can you do to prepare? Getting a broad idea of the situation is always good.

  • Look up the official websites of the countries you want to visit and read current regulations.
  • Figure out if you can apply from somewhere en route, or if you’ll have to mail your passport home for processing.
  • See if there are agencies who will help with the procedure (this sometimes makes things faster and is a necessity for countries like Iran).
  • Research the best places to log your application. Some embassies are friendlier or more efficient than others. Updates are often reported on travel chat forums, such as Lonely Planet’s Thorntree boards.
  • Make sure you have all the required papers and passport photos ready or know how to get them: photocopies of bank statements, passport photocopies, a letter from your own embassy (you may have to pay), a Letter of Invitation (official letters often issued by tour companies for a fee) are all commonly requested for visas.

About 3-4 months before you’re ready to enter a country, start making real efforts to apply for your visa. Be realistic about how long this might take. Blocking off a few days or even weeks to pick up visas on an extended bike tour is not uncommon.

In addition to supplying all the things above, you may also be asked where you are staying in the country (pick the name of any hotel, it doesn’t matter, you just need to fill out the form) or for proof of onward travel. Mostly, if you explain you are cycling, the onward travel requirement fails to become an issue but some people do purchase a cheap, refundable plane ticket to satisfy the bureaucratic machine.

On the topic of onward travel, cyclist Doug Nienhuis says: “An easy fix is to book a flight online and print out an itinerary. You can do this without actually paying for the flight. Anyone looking closely can see that this itinerary is not a paid-for flight. However, it generally doesn’t matter. The important thing is to supply a document that can be attached to your application.”

Also, don’t forget to set aside extra cash for visas. Mostly the fees and associated costs are nominal but occasionally they can reach $100 U.S. or more per visa, not to mention the extra costs of hanging around a city for a few days while you wait for the visa to be processed.

Finally, have a Plan B. Sometimes, for whatever reason, that visa just doesn’t come through. Then it’s time to try something else. There are plenty of places in the world, so go explore one that’s easy to get in to!

Comments

  1. Hans
    25th November 2010 at 10:38 am #

    Here http://www.vakantiefietser.nl/praktische-tips/wereldreis-voor-de-wereldfietser/ you can get a booklet which is updated every year, about all documents and other tips that you might need for your biketrip.
    Greetings, Hans

  2. Arpad
    25th November 2010 at 11:35 am #

    The “booking a flight online and print out the itinary” for the visa request is a really great idea! 😉 Thanks for it!

  3. Shane
    26th November 2010 at 9:12 pm #

    As usual you have simple but effective tips:)

    If in doubt, use photoshop!

    • Amaya
      27th November 2010 at 2:32 pm #

      I second Shane’s photoshop tip. Worked wonders for us when the Nigerians requested a letter of recommendation from our employers.

      • Doug W
        28th November 2010 at 5:53 am #

        I’m confused. Why would you need Photoshop? To fake the signature or letterhead? Sounds like it could still be done in Word.

        But +1 on the tip for printing an unpaid-for plane ticket. Fantastic idea!

  4. Michiel
    14th December 2010 at 4:10 pm #

    As a Dutch citizen, I never had any problems applying for any visa. Not for Iran, Syria or Israel. In fact, the biggest hassle so far was getting a visa for the USA!

    Anyway, do your research, take your time and you will be fine.

  5. Rik
    2nd February 2012 at 12:08 am #

    When I saw the pic you’ve used for this post, I laughed out loud.
    We had heard that everybody gets ripped off when applying for a Cambodian visa at the border, so we thought we would be smart and go to the Cambodian Embassy is Thailand.
    Stupidly we didn’t take US dollars, only THB.
    The lady at the counter held up a sign saying $30 USD or 900THB – huh???
    We thought it was $20 each for a one month visa?
    She just shrugged, and started to walk away.
    So we paid the 900THB and got a 3 month visa – cool.
    Then I looked closer at the visa info in my passport – yep cost is $20USD. DOH!

  6. Roberto Gallegos Ricci
    13th March 2012 at 2:10 pm #

    If you are stuck in turkey and are wondering about the new law. We wrote an article about it.

    http://www.tastingtravels.com/greek-afternoon-the-visa-travel/

  7. hotshot bald cop
    25th April 2022 at 2:46 pm #

    Right on my man!

  8. hotshot bald cop
    7th May 2022 at 12:40 pm #

    I was just telling my friend about that.

  9. hotshot bald cop
    8th May 2022 at 12:28 am #

    I didn’t know that.

  10. bape hoodie
    21st July 2022 at 11:01 pm #

    I simply needed to thank you so much once again. I do not know the things I might have gone through in the absence of the actual ideas shared by you over this subject matter. Previously it was a very terrifying issue in my view, nevertheless considering a well-written technique you handled that made me to jump for gladness. I will be thankful for your advice and in addition sincerely hope you realize what an amazing job you are carrying out educating many people by way of your blog. Most probably you’ve never met any of us.

  11. cheap curry 8
    21st July 2022 at 11:02 pm #

    I have to get across my appreciation for your kind-heartedness giving support to men and women that really want guidance on in this area. Your very own dedication to getting the message along had become remarkably effective and have frequently encouraged guys much like me to arrive at their targets. Your informative tutorial indicates this much to me and further more to my fellow workers. Regards; from everyone of us.

  12. yeezy
    21st July 2022 at 11:02 pm #

    I simply wished to appreciate you once more. I do not know the things that I could possibly have achieved without the actual strategies shown by you concerning such industry. It has been a very difficult dilemma in my view, nevertheless observing a new skilled way you solved it took me to weep with contentment. I will be happier for your assistance and then sincerely hope you are aware of an amazing job you happen to be carrying out training the mediocre ones through the use of your website. I’m certain you haven’t come across any of us.

  13. curry 8
    21st July 2022 at 11:02 pm #

    Needed to send you a very small remark to help say thank you as before for the stunning concepts you’ve documented on this page. It’s quite surprisingly generous of you to make without restraint what exactly a lot of folks would have supplied for an e-book to make some money for themselves, most notably since you could have tried it if you ever considered necessary. These points additionally served as a good way to fully grasp that other people have a similar passion just as my own to grasp many more on the subject of this condition. I believe there are thousands of more pleasurable times in the future for folks who see your site.

  14. kyrie 7
    28th July 2022 at 11:38 pm #

    I want to show thanks to the writer for bailing me out of this incident. Right after looking throughout the search engines and seeing ways which were not productive, I figured my life was gone. Living minus the approaches to the issues you’ve fixed by means of your main site is a critical case, and those which could have badly damaged my career if I had not noticed the blog. Your personal training and kindness in touching a lot of things was useful. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a subject like this. I can also at this point relish my future. Thank you very much for this skilled and result oriented help. I won’t think twice to refer the website to any person who should have support on this matter.

  15. cheap kobe shoes
    2nd August 2022 at 1:43 am #

    Thank you so much for giving everyone an exceptionally splendid chance to read critical reviews from here. It can be so cool and also stuffed with fun for me and my office acquaintances to search your site at the least 3 times in a week to read the latest guidance you will have. And lastly, I’m actually impressed for the tremendous pointers you serve. Selected two facts in this posting are essentially the most effective I’ve ever had.

  16. Charlosbum
    8th September 2022 at 12:15 pm #

    Kudos! Fantastic information. https://definitionessays.com/ is a thesis required for a masters degree

  17. AlvinBaw
    15th September 2022 at 9:38 am #

    Truly all kinds of very good knowledge.
    college graduate essay essays writing services assignment writing service usa

  18. AlvinBaw
    17th September 2022 at 12:06 am #

    You mentioned that well!
    college compare and contrast essay how to write a personal essay for graduate school pre written essays for sale

  19. AlvinBaw
    18th September 2022 at 1:55 am #

    Fine information. With thanks!
    write descriptive essay https://agbsl.pro/ write my assignments

  20. AlvinBaw
    19th September 2022 at 3:49 am #

    Nicely put. Thanks a lot.
    buying an essay online https://freshappshere.com/ report writing help

  21. AlvinBaw
    21st September 2022 at 8:46 pm #

    You suggested that effectively.
    how to buy an essay online https://agbsl.pro/ custom assignment writing

  22. AlvinBaw
    22nd September 2022 at 10:48 pm #

    Wow tons of helpful advice!
    college of charleston application essay https://essayssolution.com/ thesis writer

  23. гуро
    13th October 2022 at 8:50 am #

    I like reading an article that can make men and women think. Also, thanks for allowing for me to comment.

  24. gudang lagu
    16th October 2022 at 8:07 pm #

    This is a topic that is close to my heart… Best wishes! Exactly where can I find the contact details for questions?

  25. kyrie shoes
    1st November 2022 at 12:30 pm #

    I’m also commenting to make you understand what a terrific experience our child developed using your site. She discovered a lot of things, with the inclusion of what it is like to have an ideal teaching spirit to have many people with no trouble learn about a variety of specialized subject areas. You undoubtedly did more than our expectations. Thank you for distributing the necessary, trustworthy, educational and unique tips on that topic to Jane.

  26. golden goose sneakers
    6th November 2022 at 6:59 pm #

    I want to get across my gratitude for your generosity supporting those people that must have help with that idea. Your personal dedication to passing the solution all through appeared to be amazingly good and have surely helped people just like me to get to their desired goals. Your new informative information implies a whole lot a person like me and additionally to my office workers. With thanks; from each one of us.

  27. off white
    8th November 2022 at 9:06 pm #

    I am also commenting to let you know what a helpful experience my wife’s child found checking your blog. She discovered a wide variety of issues, most notably what it’s like to have a wonderful giving nature to have the mediocre ones smoothly completely grasp certain complicated subject matter. You truly did more than visitors’ expected results. I appreciate you for presenting the great, trustworthy, informative and cool guidance on the topic to Julie.

  28. kyrie 7
    10th November 2022 at 10:40 pm #

    I wanted to send a small remark so as to express gratitude to you for these stunning guides you are posting here. My time consuming internet research has at the end of the day been recognized with incredibly good points to talk about with my close friends. I would suppose that we readers actually are really blessed to live in a superb network with very many perfect professionals with useful hints. I feel extremely blessed to have encountered your entire webpages and look forward to so many more pleasurable moments reading here. Thanks a lot once more for a lot of things.

  29. Golden Goose
    16th November 2022 at 5:02 am #

    I’m also commenting to let you know what a wonderful experience my cousin’s daughter had visiting your blog. She came to find such a lot of details, with the inclusion of how it is like to have a marvelous helping mindset to make other individuals without difficulty learn several problematic matters. You really exceeded people’s expectations. I appreciate you for rendering these essential, healthy, edifying and even cool tips about your topic to Tanya.

  30. Terra hill former Flynn park
    16th November 2022 at 10:11 am #

    Thanks so much for the blog. Much obliged.

  31. kd 15
    18th November 2022 at 10:41 am #

    I want to express some appreciation to you just for bailing me out of this type of trouble. As a result of surfing through the online world and finding things that were not pleasant, I assumed my entire life was gone. Existing minus the answers to the issues you’ve resolved by means of your main write-up is a serious case, and those that could have in a negative way affected my career if I had not encountered your blog. Your own natural talent and kindness in dealing with everything was priceless. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t encountered such a point like this. I can at this time relish my future. Thank you very much for the reliable and sensible help. I won’t be reluctant to refer the website to any person who needs to have recommendations on this area.

  32. apple crumble
    18th November 2022 at 5:54 pm #

    Thanks a lot for the blog. Fantastic.

  33. ggdb sneakers
    20th November 2022 at 4:14 pm #

    I would like to express thanks to you just for rescuing me from such a issue. Just after looking out through the the net and meeting opinions which were not beneficial, I assumed my life was done. Living minus the answers to the problems you’ve fixed all through the site is a serious case, and the ones that might have adversely damaged my career if I had not discovered the blog. Your own understanding and kindness in touching the whole lot was precious. I’m not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come across such a thing like this. I can also at this time relish my future. Thanks a lot very much for your reliable and effective help. I won’t think twice to propose the website to any person who should receive recommendations about this area.

  34. bape
    20th November 2022 at 4:15 pm #

    I and my pals have been following the good things on the website while unexpectedly I got a horrible feeling I had not expressed respect to you for those strategies. The ladies are already absolutely excited to see them and have now seriously been taking advantage of them. Appreciate your indeed being indeed helpful and also for pick out this kind of incredibly good useful guides most people are really desirous to learn about. Our own honest apologies for not expressing appreciation to earlier.

  35. giannis antetokounmpo shoes
    20th November 2022 at 4:15 pm #

    I’m just writing to make you be aware of what a extraordinary discovery our child found checking your site. She discovered many issues, not to mention what it’s like to have a marvelous teaching style to have other individuals with no trouble gain knowledge of specific complicated things. You truly surpassed our own expected results. Thanks for coming up with those great, trusted, revealing and as well as fun tips about this topic to Gloria.

  36. bape
    20th November 2022 at 4:15 pm #

    I wish to express my passion for your kindness giving support to those who require assistance with this particular study. Your real commitment to getting the message around came to be really advantageous and have frequently encouraged girls just like me to realize their ambitions. Your amazing important guidelines signifies a lot to me and even more to my peers. Warm regards; from all of us.

  37. off white
    27th November 2022 at 3:51 am #

    I really wanted to type a quick note in order to appreciate you for all of the awesome hints you are sharing at this site. My time consuming internet look up has now been paid with brilliant concept to exchange with my companions. I would say that many of us readers actually are truly endowed to exist in a very good place with very many lovely professionals with insightful tactics. I feel rather fortunate to have used your entire weblog and look forward to tons of more brilliant times reading here. Thank you again for all the details.

  38. jordan travis scott
    27th November 2022 at 3:52 am #

    I really wanted to post a small note so as to say thanks to you for all of the amazing ways you are giving at this site. My time consuming internet search has finally been rewarded with brilliant ideas to talk about with my co-workers. I ‘d assert that we visitors actually are very much endowed to exist in a very good place with many wonderful people with useful tactics. I feel pretty fortunate to have come across your website and look forward to some more exciting moments reading here. Thanks a lot once again for everything.

  39. off white
    27th November 2022 at 9:39 pm #

    I want to voice my admiration for your generosity in support of those individuals that require assistance with in this area. Your very own dedication to passing the message along turned out to be pretty insightful and have always encouraged workers like me to get to their aims. Your personal valuable tutorial entails this much a person like me and even more to my office workers. Thanks a lot; from everyone of us.

  40. shades
    28th November 2022 at 8:29 am #

    Major thanks for the blog.Much thanks again. Awesome.

  41. supreme clothing
    28th November 2022 at 4:46 pm #

    I am also writing to let you understand of the helpful discovery my wife’s child obtained browsing your site. She came to find so many pieces, which included how it is like to possess a marvelous helping mindset to get folks effortlessly know just exactly a variety of tricky issues. You truly did more than her expectations. Thank you for providing the beneficial, trustworthy, revealing and in addition fun guidance on that topic to Kate.

  42. mộ đá ninh bình
    29th November 2022 at 12:15 am #

    Thanks for the article. Fantastic.

  43. EU organic cinnamon
    1st December 2022 at 7:06 pm #

    how long is ivermectin effective rabbit ear mites ivermectin

  44. stocks trading
    2nd December 2022 at 1:40 pm #

    Truly plenty of awesome material!college essay tutoring argumentative essay topics coursework writers

  45. kawhi leonard shoes
    3rd December 2022 at 8:27 am #

    I precisely wished to appreciate you once again. I am not sure the things I could possibly have followed without the entire points shared by you on that subject. It absolutely was a real horrifying case for me personally, but discovering the specialized mode you treated the issue forced me to leap over gladness. Now i’m happy for this guidance and as well , have high hopes you recognize what an amazing job you are always putting in training the others via a site. Most probably you haven’t met any of us.

  46. off white
    3rd December 2022 at 8:28 am #

    I wanted to post you that bit of word to be able to thank you very much the moment again for those splendid principles you have featured in this case. It was certainly wonderfully open-handed of people like you to present freely just what many of us would have marketed as an e book to earn some profit for their own end, notably considering the fact that you might have tried it if you ever desired. Those thoughts also served to be a fantastic way to fully grasp many people have the identical dream just as my very own to find out much more with regard to this matter. I believe there are several more pleasant sessions up front for people who read through your site.

  47. Bitcoin Price
    5th December 2022 at 5:43 am #

    how much ivermectin to give a dog with sarcoptic mange does ivermectin go bad

  48. off white outlet
    5th December 2022 at 10:45 am #

    I want to express my appreciation for your generosity giving support to men who have the need for help with this particular content. Your personal commitment to passing the solution throughout has been astonishingly significant and has without exception empowered many people much like me to get to their aims. Your entire valuable tips and hints signifies much to me and especially to my colleagues. Many thanks; from each one of us.

Leave a comment