Travel Visa Requirements – Best Practices

First, a cautionary tale: At the age of twenty, I flew from Sydney, Australia to Saigon, Vietnam with a layover in Singapore. Caught up in the excitement, I failed to research the travel visa requirements for Americans. Turns out I had to learn this lesson the hard way…

After almost an entire day of airplanes and airports, I arrived in Vietnam, sans visa. Within five minutes I was shipped back to Singapore on the exact same plane. Fortunately, Singapore does not require a visa for Americans, and I planned on flying back there anyways. Still, it took me eight years before I was able to visit Vietnam again…

Learn from my mistake. Here is some hard won advice for travel visa requirements:

Buy your visa before you arrive. This point was driven home when I arrived in Vietnam. Many countries will allow you to buy a travel visa within their borders, but some don’t. My advice is to purchase them beforehand, just in case. Besides, it will save you time when crossing the border.

Understand the different visas available. One of my former clients was disallowed entry into Brazil for business purposes. After hours on the phone with the embassy, we discovered he could enter with a tourist visa, and save a lot of headaches.

Maintain a Zen-like calm. Let’s be honest here: there is no place in the world that is more bureaucratic than a border; you get the joy of dealing with not just one government, but two (including your own). Don’t be surprised if there are surcharges, “handling fees” and time limitations… do your homework and prepare yourself ahead of time to avoid at least some of these delays.