When planning a travel one of the most important and difficult aspects is sorting out your visas. If you are traveling through multiple countries on a trip, it can be very complicated. We’re traveling through 15 countries for the Mongol Rally , therefore our Visa planning is extremely complicated. Out of the 15 countries, 5 require Visas and two of those five require an invitation and a multiple entry.

We don’t know when exactly we will enter each country, but we have to plan our route with rough dates in mind so that we can enter each country when our visas say we will. If we don’t have the right dates on our visas, we could be sitting at the border for a while or completely denied entry.

The Countries we are traveling throughcanadian passport

England
France
Belgium
Germany
Czech Republic
Slovakia
Hungary
Romania
Moldova
Ukraine
Russia – Double Entry Visa Required plus letter of Invitation
Kazakhstan -Double Entry Visa Required
Uzbekistan – Visa Required
Kyrgyzstan – Visa Required
Mongolia – Visa plus a letter of Invitation

Planning Stages

The other night Dave and Rick spent a couple of hours on skype planning the route. Dave using Google Maps and Google Earth while Rick checked border crossings to see if roads actually were drivable on the good old fashioned maps that he ordered for Mongolia and Kazakhstan. We would love to simply be able to hop in the car and drive west, but in certain countries borders are closed or off limits and some roads are impassable. We have to take all this into consideration before deciding on our course of action.

It is a tedious job measuring distances and the amount of days we will be in each country, but it has to be done. When traveling, a person can’t just show up in a country and expect to automatically get in. It would be nice, but it isn’t possible. Many countries in the world require Visas and these take time to acquire.

A Big Problem for Full Time Travelers

Sherry is traveling in the Middle East and heading to Sri Lanka while Dave and I are in South East Asia and making our way to New Zealand. Rick spends more time on the road with Midlife Road Trip than at home and in the middle of all this, we have to give up our passports for a month or so we can get our visas.

The Visa Machine

russian-visa

Thank God The Adventurists offer the Visa Machine. The Adventurists are the organizers of the Mongol Rally and they are doing everything possible to make things easier for participants. We normally like to take care of everything ourselves, but with traveling full time and limited time at home, we need some help. For a small fee, they will take care of everything. They will put together our letters of invitation and obtain our visas for us. All we have to do is hand over our passports for about a month with the dates that we want our Visas to be active. Did we say that the Adventurists are located in England?

We get home on April 16th. The Visa machine submissions end on the 15th, but the Adventurists have been kind enough to give us an extension. The minute we land in the Toronto Airport we are heading to FexEx to send our passports with photos on to England with our fingers crossed that we get them back in one piece.

Our next worry is getting my drivers licence in Canada. It expired in January but it didn’t come in the mail. I was organized enough to renew it before leaving, but after talking to my sister, my new one never arrived. I was supposed to call the Ministry of Transportation if it didnt’ arrive within two weeks of my renewal but I just happened to be in China at that time. I have no idea what the consequences are but I am very worried that I won’t be able to drive in the rally. What if I don’t get my licence in time? We have two months to sort everything out when we get home before we have to leave for the UK. I would love to go home early to take care of everything and relieve the stress in my mind, but we have 5 weeks scheduled in New Zealand and a week in San Diego which can’t be changed.

So in the meantime, we must learn to breathe and push away our worries. I cannot control the things I cannot change and until we can get ourselves to Canada to deal with everything, we are going to have to let the worries go and deal with what we can for now. And that would be trying to figure out a way to pay for the $1430 worth of Visas that we need just for Dave and I.

Egads! It sounded like a great idea in New York last July.

If you feel like alleviating some of our expenses, feel free to donate a few litres of gas below.

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24 Comments

  1. Audrey

    We know the visa pain of Central Asia from a few years ago – not only is it expensive, but these countries have a knack for slightly changing the requirements every so often to throw everyone off. Be very thankful that the adventurist has a service to help with letters of invitations and such.

    On a positive note, until a few years ago you would have needed visas to Ukraine and Moldova :)

    And, don’t worry, it will all get done…somehow. It always does.

  2. Jillian

    Last summer when we were in Istanbul (ironically arranging our Uzbekistan visas) we saw cars doing the Mongol Race Rally. I’d love, love, love to do it, so keep us posted!

    I second Audrey, you are very lucky to have the visa service. We were told so many different requirements depending on which embassy/website we checked with. All in all it was a real hassle and really expensive. We were really lucky, both in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan to stay with couchsurfers who let us know that borders has been closed, visa registration requirements changed, etc…In the end, we left Kazakhstan in a hurry because no one could tell us if we were properly registered or not after spending an afternoon at the Immigration Center. Since we were crossing into China, we didn’t want to take any chances at having to pay a “fee” at the border, so we left. It was a shame really, but we felt like that was the story of Central Asia… Really interesting places though, so I’m looking forward to your posts!

    Good luck with the visas!

  3. Gray

    My God, those visas are expensive, aren’t they? I hope everything works out for you to participate, because I’m looking forward to reading all about your adventures!

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Gray. Yes, they are expensive. Having to get them all in one shot is the ouchy part. It should all work out, I am sure that it will magically fall into place:)

    1. davendeb

      We have to have letters from a “Sponsor” inviting us to the country. We even have to have a letter from our hotel in Russia as well. Obviously we don’t have either and we are lucky that the Adventurists have people to take care of the letters for us.

  4. The NVR Guys

    The visa requirements are such a pain in the ass, and they seem to be getting more onerous and more expensive with each passing year.

    Being without a passport is panic inducing! Prior to one of our last multi-country extravaganzas, I realized that, while my passport was current, it did not meet the requirements of several of the countries we were going to be visiting (expiring within six or nine months of arriving or something like that). So I had this tiny little window of time between trips to send it in. Fortunately, with the expedited service, I got it back in just a few days (seriously!), but I was nervous as hell.

    Good luck with all the planning. The mongol rally sounds like a true adventure.

    1. davendeb

      I know how you feel. When we were leaving for Africa, our passports didnt’ come back from the Ethiopian embassy in time. It was Dec. 22nd and they didnt’ arrive and we were leaving Jan 2nd. We were freaking out that the Embassy would close over the Christmas holidays and we wouldn’t get the Visas back. Calling them didn’t get us anywhere so we had to hop in our car and drive 5 hours to Ottawa. When we got there they couldn’t find our Visas and eventually they tracked them down in some random pile. No joke, they didn’t have the faintest clue where our passports were and had no intention of sending them back to us anytime soon. We were lucky we drove there, because they never would have sent them back to us in time. The kicker was that we got a flat tire in a snowstorm on the way home in the middle of the night. Oh yeah, that was a great day!

  5. Priyank

    Hi Dave and Deb,
    Getting visas and navigating the bureaucracy is the most annoying aspect of travel for me. Being on Indian passport, I have to seek travel visas for most countries in the world (except Nepal and Bhutan) but thankfully lately several countries have been relaxing their restrictions and I can get some of these visas on arrival. My experience visiting the Russian consulate in Toronto was as interesting as getting the travel visa! Good luck guys, I’m sure the rally will be worth all the pain. :-)
    Priyank

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Priyank I am feeling kind of bad reading the comments. I didnt’ mean for my post to come off as too “complainie” (I know that’s not a word:) ) We are lucky most of the time traveling with a Canadian Passports. More often then not we don’t need a Visa and if we do it can be obtained on arrival. If we were home in Canada, we could get everything sorted out and it wouldn’t be half as bad…although it would be just as expensive:-)

  6. Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World

    Egawd! visas are a nightmare. However, I can’t really sympathize with you much since I’m travelling with an Indonesian passport and looking at your itinerary, If I were doing this, I’d need a visa for every single darn country on the list. You lucky Canadians, you!! :)

    1. davendeb

      Jill, Thanks for your sympathy:) We definitely can’t complain. As Canadians we have it pretty easy. Canada, The US and so many other countries make it far more difficult for people to travel to our countries and I can imagine how much bureaucracy you have to go through with an Indonesian Passport. We have very little to deal with in comparison. We are lucky enough to have the means and freedom to travel.

  7. Leigh

    Visas are always a pain. If something doesn’t work out with The Adventurists and you are desperate (because prices are high) then call Caroline at Embassy Links in Vancouver. She has worked miracles for John in the past.

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Leigh. Good to know, we may check them out instead. It would be great to have a Visa service in our own country rather than sending our passports all the way to England.

  8. Trisha Miller

    Gah! Bureaucracy! I hope that within our lifetime we’ll see an increase in “thinking globally” that leads to greater cooperation between countries and relaxed travel restrictions and requirements – after all, tourism and the dollars it brings are so beneficial to so many countries, you’d think they’d want to welcome more visitors by making it easier.

    Good luck with the Visas and good luck with RAISING FUNDS! Everyone reading these comments, throw a few dollars their way by buying a gallon of gas for this great adventure!

    1. davendeb

      Thanks Mark, we hope so too. There is a lot more involved than we expected, but I am sure it will all magically come together:)

  9. Kirsty

    Sounds like a lot of headaches, hope everything works out – it will be amazing once it is all sorted. I am super jealous you are doing this… something I am hoping Poi and I can do in the future

    1. davendeb

      Kristy, I hope you get to do it too. If we weren’t travelling full time it wouldn’t be so bad. Being at home would be a bonus right now. But we definitely can’t complain, we are going on the journey of a lifetime.

  10. Shannon O'Donnell

    Wow, I had no idea you were going to have such a visa challenge ahead of you on the trip. Also, a consideration on the drivers license – AAA issues an international drivers license that has worked even better than a state one…and now, I know you’re Canadian but is there something like that for you guys too?

    1. davendeb

      Thanks for the info Shannon. Yes, we need to get an International drivers license and we do have something similar. I think that we have to have a valid Canadian Drivers license to get the international one though. I think that everything should be okay when I get home. At least I hope. I just have to get myself into the license office ASAP. Thanks for the help and the comment.

  11. Lauren

    Really useful post!

    This summer I will be taking the Trans Siberian Railway through Russia, to Mongolia and finishing up in China. The visas are giving me such a headache trying to work out as I have no idea at what point I am expecting to be in each of these countries! Hopefully it’ll all work out in the end!

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