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Mistakes in Travel Booking: Getting a Visa

Perhaps a long-time coming, I’ve finally messed up with my travel plans. I won’t say it’s entirely my fault…I just was being tragically optimistic with scheduling, bureaucracy and flight-booking. Which leaves me today without a confirmed flight booking, without an entry visa to my next destination and with a very soon-to-be expired tourist visa for my current location. What’s a boy to do?

Hopefully this post won’t become the first installment of a multi-part series, though it’s very likely I’ll screw up again.This all began last month when I needed to extend my tourist visa for Israel so that I could remain at my internship for a few extra weeks. In order to extend my visa I had to have a confirmed booking out of the country, so in a last-minute purchase, I picked a date, time and a place. My Israeli tourist visa was extended. I knew where I’d be for Halloween. Everything was in its proper place.

Days and weeks passed. I was distracted and didn’t get around to applying for my Indian tourist visa until two weeks ago. This is where I started to rely a little too heavily on my recent streak of good luck: they told me my visa would be ready in 8-10 business days. My flight (and the end validity of my Israeli tourist visa) was exactly 10 business days away.

Which wouldn’t necessarily be a problem except for the fact that (being the budget backpacker that I am), I chose a flight from Jordan not Israel. It was half the price even if it would entail a bus ride and land border crossing to get to Amman, Jordan. I kept my fingers crossed and just hoped I could get my Indian visa in 8 days, rather than the maximum 10 expected. If I succeeded in getting it by then, I could easily catch a bus from Israel to Jordan with a full day to spare in Amman before my flight. Ahh to be young and optimistic again!

Day 8 passed. On Day 9 (yesterday), I thought: well, if I still manage to get the visa, I can make an early-morning dash to the border, passport in hand, and head straight to the airport. I’d probably even have time for dinner.

That brings us to today. At the moment: no news on my visa, my passport still at the Indian embassy. My Israeli tourist visa expires tomorrow. Even if I manage to retrieve my passport tomorrow, by the time I get to the border, it’ll be closed. You see, there’s this Jewish thing called Shabbat and buses stop, borders close because of it. Oh yeah, and because Israel ended daylight savings time already, it’s actually quite impossible to get to Amman in time for my flight.

So what’s the plan? I’m not panicking. If there’s one thing that backpacking has taught me it’s that things are often out of my control. And there’s little I can do about it (especially after the fact). Yes, I could have requested my Israeli tourist visa to be extended a few days past my flight in case of emergency. Yes I could have applied for my Indian tourist visa days (or even weeks) earlier. Yes I could have paid the extra money to not have to deal with an extra (and seemingly unnecessary) border crossing. But I didn’t.

So that leaves me with a tiny shell of a plan. But one I’m not going to rely on. Plans change. That’s one thing I’m certain of. Even when they’re solidly booked and paid for.

  1. Sarah Peduzzi says:

    Adam, I can relate completely. I was getting ready for my trip to NZ, my visa was with their embassy, and I wanted to get one last trip in to Jamaica to visit with my fiance (missionary). Needless to say, I had to cancel that trip and buy a new one because my passport was not in hand. I learned my lesson quickly. lol. I wish you all the best! It seems you already have the right attitude, which makes it already like 99% better. It still sucks about 1%, though, dude. You can do it!

  2. G @ Operation Backpack Asia says:

    Omg Adam that stresses me out. Please keep us posted and let me know if I need to come over from China to bail you out of Israeli jail. Good luck, buddy!

  3. Man, visa issues are stressful! We didn’t end up getting to go through Vietnam on the way back from our honeymoon for that very reason!

  4. Ayngelina says:

    I left Colombia a day late. I thought it was a 2 month visa but it was 60 days and I was on day 61, surprisingly they said nothing.

  5. Sunee says:

    Live and learn, I guess :) I recently had a similar experience (although not nearly as hectic as yours) booking a flight in my married name while my passport was still in my maiden name – what a load of drama that caused! Anyway, keep us updated on how it all works out…

  6. Sarah Wu says:

    aww.. I hope everything works out.

  7. enrolled agent cpe says:

    I sincerely hope that things will work out soon. I have learned my lesson when it comes to visa application as one embassy also promised that it will be ready in two weeks but I didn’t get till almost four weeks which is two days before my scheduled trip.

  8. US Visa Philippines says:

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  9. Earl says:

    It happens. I’m sure you’ll soon write a post about how you managed to survive this situation. It is surprising that the Indian embassy didn’t offer you an option to pay a bit more for rushed service! And even if an embassy (for any country) doesn’t advertise that service, normally all you need to do is ask and give a good reason (which you had) and they’ll accommodate you for a small fee…

    • Adam says:

      Yep, as it turns out, it was perfectly fine. I asked about paying to expedite but no one was able to give me a clear answer. India’s embassy in Israel outsourced all visa applications to outside tourist companies which complicated the matter. When I tried speaking with the embassy directly, they gave me a lot of trouble (a LOT).

  10. Tour Absurd says:

    Hmm. Does travel insurance apply in this situation? …Well, I suppose the first step is purchasing the insurance. Was that part of the equation?

    And yeah, what Earl said. Looking forward to the Exciting Follow-up Story. ;)

  11. […] Israel is notorious for tight security. Especially at their borders. So even though I was leaving rather than entering Israel, I was understandably on edge. Not to mention that my Israeli tourist visa was expired by 5 days. […]

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