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May 4, 2000

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Larissa Fernand

Planning an overseas trip requires a tremendous amount of planning. And there are a host of other factors which don't cross your mind. They occur to you way too late. Here are a few things that must be done before you fly off and a few pointers to keep in mind once you are there.

  • Apply for your visa in advance and don't leave it for the last minute. You may be asked to give some additional documentation or the embassy may not even return your passport the very same day. When going for your visa, here are a few tips to remember.

    Carry a detailed list of all your investments and take a statement of your bank account. You have to convince them that you have money to come back to.

    If staying with friends or family abroad, carry a list of their names, phone numbers, e-mails and addresses. If you have any invite letters, take them along too.

    If you are going to be staying in hotels, motels or the likes, be prepared with answers to questions such as: How much have you budgeted for stay? Have you made your bookings? Have you already shortlisted such places?

    A letter from your employer granting you leave for a holiday is essential.

    A senior citizen may be required to do a health check-up.

    If you are married and travelling alone, you may have to produce a copy of the marriage certificate. This is some sort of indication that you will be returning to India.

    Do not carry big bags when going for the interview. You may not be allowed to carry them inside the embassy.

    Cameras, cellular phones, pen knives, scissor will not be allowed in the bags either.

    Some embassies require you to produce a ticket before you apply for the visa. Double check this with the embassy.

    Some ask for a draft for payment of fees and that too from select banks. Others may accept cash but only in certain denominations like 100. Tens and fifties may not be accepted.

    Carry at least two passport sized photographs.

    Ensure that you have at least two blank pages in your passport. Embassies don't stamp visas on additional pages and you may have to go to the passport office to get a booklet attached to your passport.

  • Photocopy your ticket. If it gets lost or stolen, you will find yourself in a soup. If stolen, make a police complaint and take copies of the report. You will then have to go to the nearest office of the airline or a GSA in the city where you are in and fill in the lost application form. The airline will confirm the facts from the issuing office and the travel agent. Depending on the airline's policy, the amount to be paid for a new ticket will be decided.

  • Since you are photocopying your ticket, do it for your passport as well. The pages that you should photocopy are the ones where your name and address appears and the visa stamp. Here too if it is stolen, obtain a police report. When you approach the Indian embassy abroad, you will be asked to submit the original report along with photocopies of the passport.

  • Keep emergency numbers handy. These could be numbers to report a credit card loss or loss of travelers cheques (TCs). And keep them in a pouch or pocket other than where your documents are. So that if your documents get robbed, at least the numbers won't go along with them.

  • Record your hotel confirmation number. If your name has been slightly misspelt, the computer is not going to show various options which could be your name. And the hotel desk may be too stressed out to ask if the booking is in the name of the agent, company or individual.

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