When I converse with a visa applicant, I ask them if they’ve got any travel history. Some would reply not really, then go on to say it’s just Ghana, Kenya, Cameroon…African Countries, which they apparently do not consider worthwhile. I then start explaining how even a visit to the border Country whose boundary is your backyard adds up to your travel history.
Sometimes, people think they need to visit the “big names” in the first world countries before they can say they have traveled abroad. It is not so. As a matter of fact, one sure way to improve your eligibility to travel to those “big countries” is by building a travel history which could be made up of travel to various supposed “small countries”. Any travel beyond your shores is travel abroad.
Consider your travels, whether far or near as building blocks leading up to the destination of your dreams, as you would working several jobs, at every opportunity you get to build your resume for the job of your dreams. In so doing you take on vacation jobs, interim jobs, Internship, freelancing, volunteering etc. In the long run, these experiences give you an edge over someone who never bothered. That you have crossed the borders of your country, for whatever purpose, and returned is a travel record in your favour.
Two years ago, while facilitating a Global Leaders Training Program for a school in Vancouver, Canada, what qualified some and got them shortlisted for this major summer experience, were merely simple activities they had been involved in at various points in their lives that revealed the leadership qualities in them. Stuff like heading a sports team in school, being involved in organizing a holiday camp, teaching in children’s church, managing activities at work, volunteering to teach a skill, handling a responsibility in a youth group, working at their parents business(es) at their free times and stuff that didn’t seem like much at the time of doing them.
The same applies to building your travel history. You may not be intentional about it, but in the long run it adds up. The purpose of this article, however, is to get you to be intentional about building your travel history. Simply start from where you are. Visit neighboring countries, then other countries in your continent. Take it up a notch by visiting visa free countries, then move on to countries that issue visa on arrival. By the time you’re applying for a visa to the “big countries” your eligibility would have greatly improved.
Here is a brief guide to get you started:
- Visit neighbouring countries in your continent
- Stop by and enter countries en route your destination
- Take a trip outside your country at least once a year.
- Visit countries that grant holders of your country’s passport visa free entry
- Visit countries that have little or no restrictions on tourism and/or commerce
- Visit countries that issue visas on arrival
- Visit countries that have minimal requirements for issuing a visa
- Ensure your passport is stamped in and out of every country you visit.
- Take advantage of visas you get that allow you to visit other countries using same visa.
- Whether it’s a day’s trip, an overnight stay, a weekend or a holiday, just up and go at every opportunity you get.