Visa spagetti

3 months to plan a second round the world trip (RTW) should be plenty of time when you’ve done it once before? Hmmm, we’ll find out if we’ve taken on more than we can chew. For now, the list keeps growing. Our biggest challenge right now is how we will manage to get all the visas we need in the tight timeframe we have set ourselves. Why so tight? Because the idea of riding through an early Siberian winter doesn’t appeal. For comfort and for safety reasons. We haven’t had a winter for the past 3 years and we have softened over that time, feeling the cold when temperatures get below 23 degrees/73 fahrenheit !!

Juggling visas is ‘interesting’. For a start, not all countries have consulates everywhere (Turkmenistan, Iran, Mongolia). So we have to work out which country we will be making our visa application from. Many countries require a “letter of introduction” (LOI is formality which you either get a hotel you’ve booked with, which we can’t do as we have no idea of our timeframe, or pay some online tourist agency to provide) before you can apply for a visa (Azerbaijan, Iran, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and sometimes Mongolia). Finding out how far in advance you can apply for a visa, how long the visa is valid for from issue until you have to enter the country and how long you have in the country is not as simple as you think it would or should be. And to add to this mix, regulations change, just because they can! In our case, a couple of countries have simplified their visa acquisition process (Uzbekistan), which is fantastic but then others have tightened theirs or are suddenly rejecting some people for no apparent reason (Turkmenistan) or just made it even more difficult (US). Because we visited Iran, we are no longer allowed into the US under the visa waiver program. We have to go to Sydney for an interview, having first completed a 10 page questionnaire. We finally got an appointment early next month. Keeping fingers crossed on that one. Oh, I forgot to mention that some countries won’t issue a visa if you don’t already have a visa for the country you intend to visit after it. Finally, some borders have new skirmishes, wars, general unrest which we will do our best to skirt (Turkey and Iran, Armenia and Azerbaijan) – Turkey is increasingly looking like we might have to bypass it, so maybe we’ll go via Romania and ferry across the Black Sea. Who knows?…

All this to say that it is a bit of a juggling act so we have no idea of our route yet! The aim is to enjoy the places we travel through and stay safe.

Our main goal is to get to Mongolia and then RTW via Alaska and Canada.  On the way there, return to Iran (Turkmenistan permitting) and Uzbekistan and enjoy the ride getting there.

We are trying something new, in the hope that will aid us in getting the visas on time. We are applying for a second Australian passport. That’s a whole process in itself of course!!! Paperwork is all done. We have an appointment at the local post office to lodge our applications then we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed. Especially if the US take longer than expected to return our passports. Then we might just have a bit of a problem leaving Australia!!

Is it worth all the hassle some people ask us. Why bother if the countries make it so difficult? Because government regulations and their required enforcement by officials are not representative of the people of those countries. It is the people we meet that make travel so fascinating. The country’s history, landscapes, culture and especially its people is what makes all the paper-tape worthwhile.

I have to admit we do go through waves of feeling a bit overwhelmed. It feels like pulling one spagetti strand and finding yourself with a monster nest around your fork. Luckily, we recover quite fast, we remind ourselves we’ll work it out as we go along and if we have to change our route, yet again, well, so be it.

Love buying new paper maps!!

Love buying new paper maps!!

The new paper maps have been ordered (love paper maps!), a new spare fuel filter and fuel pump are on their way, new boots selected (my wet boots in hot weather were barely bearable, but not in cooler climes thank you very much), new wind chill protection identified, list of bike maintenance required drawn up, air tickets to Paris purchased. So much more to do!!! Getting exciting 🙂

– Anne

16 comments on “Visa spagetti

  1. Ooooh ! From the safety of my armchair I can feel your stress but am so looking forward to sharing this trip . Where will you go? Who will you meet? What photos will you share? What adventures will you have………we can’t wait !,, xx 😂🏍🏍

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  2. Well it actually sounds all positive.It’s these hiccups that make it an adventure before you have left. You will manage as you always do. Have fun and may the wind be in your sails. Lots of love and positive vibes blowing your way ❤❤💼🎒🌏 🏍🏍🛫

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  3. I particularly relate to that paragraph that points out it is not the people of countries that are problematic, but rather their governments. Combinations of a desire to control everybody, shifting alliances with other countries, bureaucratic empire building etc all take their toll on us poor citizens!
    And we only had one reasonably accommodating government to deal with on our recent trip – Laos. (The Thai government is so lovely in this what’d – I have the utmost respect for their Immigration department. People are efficient, polite and helpful).

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    • I have to say that most border officials have been very polite and helpful – efficient maybe not but they are just following rules. Latest hurdle as we went for our interview: they now require an official translation of my French birth certificate. They’ve never asked for that before but it is a new requirement. Somebody has now just made $75 for a translation… oh well, another new thing ticked off the preparation list! 😂. Your trip through Laos looked wonderful!!

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      • OK. That will get me offmy backside : I’m going to apply to become a sworn translator and then we can go halves on the $75 – (only joking about going halves) Seventy-five dollars to translate “date of birth and place of birth” Money for old rope.
        Will all these visa problems mean you won’t be able to get away in mid-April as planned? Fingers crossed. xx

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      • Crazy money for something I could have done but don’t have the official stamp for… We will leave the UK early April as planned, regardless of whether our second passport application is successful or not. That is if we get our passports back from applying for a US visa. So many unknowns still. All part of the fun! Xxx

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  4. Oh I guess this new trip will be amazing. I can offer to you before running the world to stay in my castle and stay forever with me!! Hihi! Love you speedyOnes

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  5. On a serious note you have such amazing experience in doing this stuff people reading the blog who want to do same will have a head start. Perhaps a Speed business in assisting the adventurers to be?

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    • Thanks for your kind comments. We do love it when we find that our blog has either helped or inspired people. But organising trips is not something we’d contemplate. Who knows where this will lead us to though – exciting!!

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  6. I agree with all the comments above!! Good luck with all your preparations. The thought, as John above says, of your running your own business at some point to help travellers makes every sense!!😊 Go the Speedies xxx

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  7. I love how you said all the paperwork is worth it because sometimes to travel all the paperwork seems like such a hassle but seeing new things and meeting new people is always good no matter what it takes.

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