Firstly, with my involvement in running this trip it has always been my aim to be able to show others that I am nothing special I am just a student wanting to have a fun trip of a lifetime and therefore I want to explain all the things that have been giving me trouble with organising the trip and one of these big issues is visas!

I had to consider when thinking of visas about validity. Most visa applications have to have entry to the country within three months of the visa being granted. This means that you have a bit of a rush to get them all as I did not want to apply for any before January as that gives me to April to get to the countries that I want to reach.

With my trip heading east, I needed to get visas for the countries I would be visiting after the EU runs out, the visas I need to get in the UK are Russia, Kazakhstan and India. Here is a quick note on my experiences of getting them!

Russia Visa
The Russian visa is pretty straightforward, to visit Russia you need to get a letter of invitation from an inviting organisation. This can usually be done through a hotel booking but because I plan on camping all the way through Russia I found travel agencies online who could give you this document and I used http://nevsky88.com/ who were cheap at £13 and professional in giving me this supporting document.

With this document you can fill in the online application form before printing the whole lot off and taking it to the visa application centre in London. Here they have a electronic ticket system where you get a ticket with a number when arriving and wait till your number is on the screen. Works well and I didn’t have to wait for more than 15 minutes. There is an express service but I just used the normal 5 working day service which cost £76.40 in total and received my Russian visa.

Kazakhstan Visa
Despite the website for the embassy of Kazakhstan saying that nationals from ‘x’ countries no longer need a letter of invitation, when I initially went to the embassy with my applications they turned me away so I had to get an invitation from http://stantours.com/index.html. The invitation cost me £51 and took about a week to come through.

With this document you have to fill in an application form which is printed and hand filled in and then write a cover letter requesting the issuance of a visa. With all of these documents and the passport photo attached to the form I went to the embassy for round two! The embassy in London is open 9-12 Mon-Fri EXCEPT Wednesday which it only is open for Kazakh nationals. I turned up at about 10:30 and there was a 10 minute queue before I got to the desk. The documents were looked through and passport number checked against my passport. After this I paid the visa fee of £35 bringing the total for my Kazakh visa with support to £86. This is the cost for a single entry 30 day tourist visa.

Indian Visa
India, like Russia have outsourced their visa applications to a private company VFS and have an online form which needs to be filled in online and then printed out. The annoying thing about the Indian application is the photos. You are required to give 2 photos with the application and they have a different size to normal passport photos you would get out of any machine you would find in your supermarket or high street. The visa application centre conveniently has a machine which will do you square photos, giving you 2 for £4.

With the application form, photos and your passport you can then apply for the visa. The cost of six month visa is £42.20. A service is also available to have your documents and visa sent out to you by courier which is the service I will use, this costs £7.40. With the photo fee, visa fee, and courier fee the total for the Indian visa is £53.60.

Rushing around getting visas can be stressful but it’s just important to read the forms carefully and do what they say to the point. An example of this would be the Russian visa said glue the photo to the form. I stapled it and was delayed at the desk as the person on the other side removed the staple and glued the picture.

The total spent on all of these visas therefore comes to £229. I’m sure it will all be worth it when I’m on the road!

Next blog will be the Primus OmniLite Ti review that I said I would do. I am very fortunate to have one of these as they are not on general sale yet so will give you a glimpse of what it’s like!

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