I’ve traveled all around the world, literally. Over the many years of my travels, I’ve flown from one continent to another, sailed from one side of the world (across the Pacific Ocean) to the other, backpacked through deserts in northern Africa, rode in the back of Tuk-Tuks throughout India and on high-speed trains across Japan, and more.
As I reflect on my adventures, I can’t help but think about the amazing travel opportunities I’ve missed not having the proper travel documents. I remember it like it was yesterday. My first opportunity to travel abroad although it was exactly 10 years ago next month. I was participating in this leadership development program through St. John’s College and selected to travel to the Dominican Republic as a part of the programs’ community service project. I, a 14-year-old high school sophomore, was indeed excited about the idea of helping to rebuild houses in a rural village in San Juan; however, what really caught my attention were the beaches I couldn’t wait to explore. After being selected to travel abroad, and with our trip just under two weeks away, the program directors immediately purchased everyone’s round-trip flights and sought to get expedited passports for those who didn’t have them already, i.e. me. What happens next crushed my excitement.
We spent the next few days trying to understand the necessary [and confusing] paperwork, standing in line for hours at the Washington D.C. Passport office, and hoping we’d have everything worked out in time so that I could go on the trip. I remember praying for a silver lining. At one point while driving back to the Washington D.C. Passport Office at six in the morning with Joshua, one of the program directors, we were the first in line on what might have been our fourth visit. The silver lining never came. I remember feeling so angry because I didn’t fully understand why I couldn’t get my passport [in time] to go on the trip. My situation was unique. As a minor, in the transition between families, getting the proper signatures from my legal guardians made the process take longer than expected, and out of the time frame, we were working in.
It wasn’t until after my eighteenth birthday that I seriously considered traveling abroad again. I was a rising sophomore in college and had my sights set on transferring to John Cabot University in Rome, Italy. I got accepted into the school, paid my deposits, booked my flight, and began fundraising for my life abroad. To be safe, and not to experience what I experienced four years earlier, I made sure I obtained my passport well in advance (ironically, via the expedited passport service offered at the Washington D.C. Passport Office).
About a month and a half from my departure date, an adviser from the school reached out to me to make sure that I had obtained my visa. At first, I had no idea what she was talking about, and soon learned I was in trouble again. I began scrambling to get a visa for Rome, which required me to submit to the Italian Embassy an affidavit of support totaling $12,000 dollars ($1000 for each month of my year abroad). I was truly devastated! Where am I going to find $12,000 dollars in less than a month? I did my best to fundraise as much money as I could, and yet again, I found myself praying for a silver lining. The silver lining never came.
My attempt at studying and traveling abroad stifled again by a lack of knowledge of the process for obtaining the required documents needed. Unlike the first attempt, this time around I invested my money in non-refundable deposits, fees, and flight expenses. Both my spirit and my bank account were at their lowest point. I didn’t think I would try to travel and study abroad again; however, as the saying goes, the third time’s the charm. I’m happy I persisted.
Strike Three (Almost)
My third attempt at traveling abroad lead me to Travisa Passport and Visa Services. A rising senior looking to take a break before graduation, I decided to embark upon a four-month, twelve-country study abroad journey around the world through Semester At Sea. This particular program was called, ‘Around the World’. As I got ready for my Suite Life on a Deck-inspired voyage, I was a bit stressed to learn that I would need to get Visas for China, India, Ghana, Myanmar, AND Vietnam. Given my previous attempts, I was not confident that I would get it right this time nor did I have the time to visit each of embassy to apply for a visa in person.
I Did It!
Luckily, Semester At Sea has a partnership with Travisa to aid in travelers with the passport and visa application process. This was my silver lining. After visiting travisa.com, creating my account, and after the easy to read step-by-step instructions, I printed and filled out all the necessary forms with ease and mailed them off along with my passport for processing. The process took a total of about two weeks before I had my passport along with all the necessary visas and travel documents back in my possession. I learned they acted as an agent on my behalf visiting the embassies to apply for my visas. They would let know me immediately of any changes or requirements I would need for a particular country.
Not only did it save me time and money, but also stress and worry. What I liked most about their services, is the up-to-the-minute live status information and tracking tool as well as the same day processing guarantee. Travisa guarantees your application will be expedited within hours of being received. You are notified with the estimated date you can expect the necessary documents will be collected from the embassy. Travisa Passport and Visa Services is a company that I trust and highly recommend.
While my recent travels have been mostly domestically over the past few years, I often recommend Travisa to my travel friends and use their services when working with some of my clients. Travisa Passport and Visa Services is my top pick for getting you ready for travel.
Whether you’re a rookie just starting out on your travel journey or a veteran seeking new adventures to explore, check out Travisa.com and start planning your next adventure today!