Navigating the Travel Visa Conundrum

Somewhere along the line between the time when traditional travel agents were pivotal to the travel industry and now, when the internet is your greatest travel agent, the paradigm shift in the dynamics surrounding the cost of travel seems to have gone right over the heads of many people. Consequently, those of us who make the means to travel regularly are often mistaken for people who are totally loaded and we’re not loaded.

Travelling is just not as expensive as it used to be anymore, for a number of reasons which include the fact that more people travel now than ever before.

I mean even just the organisation of the many elements of a trip are an internet search away. Wikipedia for example lists a very accurate and up-to-date table containing the travel clearance requirements for the citizens of each country. Just by searching “travel/visa requirements for X citizens” you’ll have in front of you a concise list of all these requirements, telling you where you need a visa to travel to, how long you can stay under each of these travel clearance specifications and some links to the official resources from whence the information comes.

All of this was once part of the work of a travel agent – a travel agent who charges for this service as part of their greater offering, mind you…

Now, what comes into focus however is the issue of how to navigate what is clearly a travel visa conundrum. A common phrase which is referred to in light of these travel clearance considerations is indeed that of the strength of your passport or “passport strength”. What this refers to is how many countries you can travel to without needing special travel clearance like first having to apply for an entry visa.

At face value it would appear as if the strength of your passport is driven by political factors, but if one digs a little deeper you’ll realise that actually it’s driven by economic factors. Western countries for example are associated with wealth and prosperity, or just strength in their economics, so if you are from a Western country then chances are you have a good source of income and you can support yourself without becoming a burden on the country’s resources which you’re visiting.

So yes, economics trumps politics – don’t let anybody tell you anything different. Sure, sometimes politics trumps economics with regards to travel restrictions, but that’s only in extreme cases. Like if you’re a citizen of Afghanistan you pretty much cannot get a visa or any other form of travel clearance to go anywhere, but show them a bank account which suggests that you have enough money to sustain yourself for the period you indicate to want to visit a certain country and you’ll get your visa with no problems.

Basically it comes down to this – if you can afford to travel somewhere and you can prove it, you’ll be able to get your clearance to travel, whether it’s in the form of an entry visa or whatever other means they use to grant you official traveller status.

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