My goal this week is to make sure that I have all the proper documents to visit each country on my list. Anytime someone goes to another country they need to check the government requirements of entry into that country. Many countries require visas and have visa application fees and forms you must fill out. This often requires you to download the form, fill it out, get a money order from your bank for the fee, print out your flight itinerary and bank statements, get 2 passport pictures for the embassies to keep on file, and mail all the documents with your passport to the countries embassy in New York or Washington DC. Since you are putting your passport in the mail (which can be nerve racking) you need to pay for a tracked envelope to the embassy and the tracked envelope back to your house for the embassy to use. If you are planning to stay longer than a tourist is allowed (like to volunteer) you also need a letter from the registered organization you are volunteering at. This is a pain in the butt process for any trip you take but it is extra "interesting" if you are traveling to 7 countries. Some countries have more laid back rules for travelers and you can pay for your visa once you land in the country you are visiting. This usually requires you to stand in a long line at the airport waiting for a customs official to process your application. If you do this you need to have the proper documents with you and the customs officer at any point can deny your entry and send you back to where you came from. For this reason- I rather do this before I leave. So after some research I learned I will not need a visa to enter New Zealand if it is under 90 days (: So no worries there. Australia I will need to get a visa prior but I found an application online for it that might not require me to mail in my passport (: . Indonesia requires you to get a visa and also have proof that you have a yellow fever vaccine (which I have from my first trip to Africa), the fee for entry to Indonesia is $45 and I can get my visa when I arrive if I choose to. Thailand does not require a visa for Americans, but Cambodia and Laos do. For Cambodia I need to complete the form and collect my documents and mail to the embassy with a $25 fee. A visa into Laos is $50 and must have all the documents above but the visa will only be good for a 30 day visit. Most of these visas are just formalities and a bunch of beuracratic red tape that allows you into a country, but the most difficult one for me to aquire is the Tanzanian volunteer visa. This is due to the fact that I am asking to stay for a 1 year period of time. To do this I also need a letter from Kilimahewa explaining what I am doing and demonstrate that I have enough funds to live for one year. This visa is the one I will most likely hold my breath when I send my paperwork and hope for the best. Part of the stress is that the Tanzanian government requires the organization you are volunteering for to be registered with the government, which Kilimahewa is but the problem lies in my distrust of the government to be organized enough to have our registration for Kilimahewa. In all the years past I have visited on a tourist visa which granted me access for 60 days. This year it will be for one year.
So my goal for this week is to start collecting all the paperwork I need for each country, get my passport pictures taken for each country, make copies of my flights, vaccination records and bank account info for each country, and start sending my passport out to the countries I am planning to visit. I will keep you posted on how it goes.