Tag Archives: visa

Travel | The frequent traveller’s guide to having a second passport

Frequent TravellersIf you’ve managed to clock up a lot of air mileage over the years – through backpacking or regular holidays – you’ll have come to regard your passport as one of your most treasured possessions. You’ll have had those heart-stopping moments when you misplace it just before a big trip, and you’ll have felt the annoyance when a customs officer wastes a whole page on just one entry stamp. Frequent travellers will know that when you’re traveling between countries constantly, your passport becomes the most important thing you carry, and yet what happens if you have to leave it at an embassy while waiting for visa approval? Holding a second passport could open up a whole new world of free travel unlimited by waiting for visas, to visit various countries usually out of reach and even to new careers.

What is a second British passport?

Well, if you travel the world even half as much as I do, you could easily fit the criteria to apply for a second passport without even knowing. It was only when I did a little research that I found all these amazing ways a second passport could make your travelling life so much easier. Most people don’t even know this service is available and easily accessible to travellers, but Rapid Passports are working to change this.

Available for British travellers, a traveller can now hold two current British passports at the same time to be used simultaneously alongside each other. Both will remain completely unique with no link between each other, and will hold different passport numbers.

Passport Renewal

Pic By King Huang

Why do you need one?

Planning on applying for visas at different embassies at the same time? A second passport is perfect for you and will help speed up the process instead of having to wait for a passport to be returned to apply for the second visa.

Want to travel to conflicting countries? This gives you a bit more freedom to travel without certain stamps holding you back – for example, anyone with an Israeli entry stamp cannot enter Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia.

Plan to work as a pilot, flight attendant or even on an oil rig? You’d be amazed but all of these jobs could require two passports, as could others.

Emigrated or living long term in another country? It might be worth having a back-up passport to leave at home while you are away, or even to carry with you.

And of course, if you travel as much as I do, there is always the chance your passport will get filled up pretty quickly with stamps and you’ll simply need a spare with a bit more space.

Second British Passport

Pic by John Barker

How can it be done?

The best thing about this service is that it’s super easy to organise in a very short space of time. Same day service is available and all that is needed to create the second passport is a photocopy of the original – not even the passport itself!

Considering most people don’t know this service is available – it’s pretty good right? Want to apply for your second British passport – click to apply for Second British Passport.

image7-1-1

Travel | Top tips for getting that second year visa | Australia

12552895_10153259417087617_2924245034914644478_nThree months. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but when you’re in a job you hate, trust me, it drags. As the Darwin days came to a close, I started to think seriously about getting my regional work done – it wasn’t something I had planned but after the last few months I knew I really wanted to stay in Australia the full two years. I still had so much left to see and do, I couldn’t abandon this amazing country just yet. So I began looking online for jobs that would count towards my 88 days – originally I was supposed to be joining two friends from home on a mango farm near Darwin but poor crop meant that fell through. After that I started looking at everything from working in outback pubs, livestock farming, fruit picking, au pair work on farms, even working on ranches and cattle stations. There were so many jobs it was hard to know which ones to apply for so I started off by narrowing it down to areas I really wanted to visit – places like Tasmania and Western Australia that I hadn’t yet explored. Then, once I’d applied for all the jobs from those areas, I started to widen my search on Gumtree to areas like Queensland and the Northern Territory. This website was the most helpful when it came to finding work in places that satisfied the criteria needed to get that second year visa.

It’s a bit of a long process applying for jobs like these unless you have a contact on a farm already – that seems to be the best way to do it, by recommendation. When you’re just desperate to find something and take the first job offered, sometimes you can end up doing something you hate and working for people you can’t stand. I think one of the main problems with taking rural work is that the Australians hiring you know that you will do pretty much anything for the sign off – they know that they can push it and take advantage because you need them more than they need you. I mean, we’re interchangeable and more importantly we’re replaceable. One backpacker can be replaced by 50 eager new ones in a week, so why should they really care how they treat us? Now before someone jumps down my throat, I know not all farming employers are like this and I have several friends who have had a blast doing their farm work, who have loved it so much they spent twice as long there and later returned for more. Many who describe it as their best memory of this country.

But I’ve also heard twice as many stories of people being taken advantage of – in every sense from money and working hours, to sexually. You only have to take one scan down the backpacker Facebook pages to read some of the horrific stories of travellers turning up and being treated like slaves, expected to work insane hours for almost no wages and disgusting living conditions, and I’ve heard way too many stories of girls getting stuck out on a farm in the middle of nowhere with dodgy farmers who tried to touch them or even crawl into their beds in the middle of the night. I’ve heard all sorts since travelling – mainly because thats always the first conversation people want to have in Australia – everyone is looking for tips on how to tackle their farm work or to vent about how awful theirs was. Mine? It was an experience that I definitely wouldn’t want to repeat. I learnt a lot about how much I can put up with when I really want something – because trust me it’s not like me to keep my mouth shut in the face of such treatment. But thanks to good friends there and keeping my eyes on the prize, I made it through and now it feels like it happened a million years ago. It was worth sticking it out to get it done and dusted with three months to spare, but I’m so happy I will never have to go through that again.12348051_10153179434517617_8211459727443272948_n

If you’re looking for farm work, why not check out my top tips for getting that regional work done:

  1. Talk to as many people as possible – backpackers you meet on the road, on Facebook pages, friends-of-friends, potential employers. Get as much information as possible so you can make informed decisions and get recommendations.
  2. Don’t ever feel pressured or get yourself into a situation you don’t feel comfortable with – no second year visa is worth putting yourself in danger. You will always be able to find another job if you need it.
  3. Try and go with friends – it’s less scary than going off all by yourself and it can help make three months go a lot quicker if you’re laughing the whole time.
  4. Throw yourself into outback life – trust me it really does show you a completely different side to Australia and it’s an amazing way to experience real Aussie culture instead of just city life and East Coast fun.
  5. Make sure you have a Telstra SIM, trust me, most of these places won’t get signal with other networks and not being able to keep in contact with friends/family will drive you nuts – plus if you get in a bad situation a Telstra SIM could save your life.
  6. Always tell family and friends where you are going and what you will be doing – make sure someone in the country and someone back home has your travel details and will raise the alert if you don’t get in contact within a certain time. It may sound over cautious but if you’re travelling solo and heading off into the outback, you might be glad to have someone checking you made it safely to the other end.
  7. Try something new – don’t be afraid to try something completely new because it could be the best experience of your life. Cattle farming may not sound like it’s for you but it could be the only time in your life you’ll ever get to try!
  8. Make sure you’re getting those pay slips from the beginning – none of this “I’ll sort them out before you leave” rubbish.
  9. Don’t leave the farm if you’re still owed money – it makes it ten times harder to claim it back when you’ve already moved on to another territory. Also – if they keep saying they’ll pay you but you see no sign of cash make sure you put the pressure on or get the authorities involved.
  10. Try and get a job that comes with food and accommodation included – it makes a huge difference and means that you will save every cent because you have no outgoings.
  11. Don’t be afraid to leave – I knew a group of guys who had a van and moved between farms every four to six weeks, avoiding all the hassle that came with long-term stays and stopping them from hating the jobs.
  12. Get it done. So many people I know have left their farm work until the last three months of their visa – but often it can take nearly four months to complete if you don’t end up working every day. So many have been left stressing or short just a few days for their application – its not worth the stress! Getting it done early means you still have months left to relax and enjoy Australia.
  13. Make friends! Whether you’re on a farm in the middle of nowhere wth a bunch of backpackers, or you’re in an outback town, get out and about! Meet people and experience a different way of life. I had a blast with the friends I made in Charleville, and while the job wasn’t all that, I made it through my three months thanks to the angels who became my friends.
  14. Sign up to an agency that specialises in farm work – they might be able to organise accommodation as well.
  15. Don’t worry. I know this post makes it sound a bit like all farming experiences are awful, but I’m just trying to highlight some of the issues surrounding the second year visa. Yes there are some awful experiences out there, but there are also some amazing ones. If you’re the kind of person who can take the best from every situation then you’ll smash it whatever you end up doing. Just be away of the problems and dangers, but don’t let them cloud you with fears of what might happen. Knowledge and preparation is what keeps you safe and happy on the road.

Tell me about your farming experiences – what kind of work did you end up doing? Best or worst three months of your life? Any other top tips?

image7-1

Slow boat from Thailand (Pai) to Laos (Luang Prabang)

imageSince travelling across Asia I’ve been on my fair share of buses, trains, motorbikes, tuk tuks and ferries – but one of my favourite methods of transport so far had to be the slow boat from Thailand to Laos. It was one of the most effortless, chilled out journeys I have had since first coming away all those months ago and I would really recommend it to anyone who has the time and inclination to spend two days on a boat floating down the Mekong. It’s a completely different and relatively stress-free way to cross the border while combining a chance to meet fellow backpackers, travellers and locals with seeing the true beauty of the Laos landscape. Now I won’t lie to you, I have heard other backpackers say they have tried this route and have had rather less fun boats – one couple spoke of a girl who decided to get the boat when she was tripping her nut off on some kind of hallucinogen. Others said the people on their boat were boring or not very friendly – I like to give a balanced view where I can but my experience was the best it could have been.

For a small price (I’m sorry I can’t remember exactly how much, but it’s great value) you get a bus from Pai (with a terrifying driver) to the border town where you spend a night in rooms at a guest house. Breakfast is included then you head to the border where you are pushed through like cattle, pay any fines for overstaying and get your new visa. Our group were also given a chance to swap any leftover money for dollars and to sort out our paperwork ahead of time. After a couple more buses and arriving at the port, we grabbed some food for the ride and some beers, then climbed aboard the longboat. It was made up of a long line of comfy seats and we all squeezed in up at the front, meeting some loud Australians and English along the way. That first day was a blur of singing silly songs, chatting about where we had all travelled, laughing at one of the guys who got sneezed on by a local and a few beers along the way. It was gorgeous to watch outside of the boat where the landscape was empty except for rolling hills, deserted beaches, rocky cliff faces and occasionally some naked, local children playing and giggling in the river.

I was pretty lucky with the crowd I had on my boat – I had the opportunity to spend two days with some of the most intelligent, artistic and talented individuals I have come across. I spent my time flitting between conversations about literature and plays, to playing silly games and singing along to the guitar that was constantly being played. One amazingly talented woman, who was backpacking with her daughter, sat quietly in a corner sketching and painting the scene at the front of the boat without us even realising until I spotted her hard at work. She had been doing this series of paintings along her travels and kept them as a kind of travel diary – a beautiful and original way to hold on to the memories that I wished I had the artistic talent for. It was so lovely to see how in a situation where there is no wifi, everyone reverts back to the ways we entertained ourselves as kids in the 90’s – by reading, being artistic, playing games and not instantly turning away to plug ourselves into music or a TV. It was so refreshing.imageAfter we spent six hours on the boat that first day, we arrived at a tiny town where we would spend the night at another guest house (not included in the price but cheap options available just no,d on for arrival rather than taking the first one offered). It was lovely and I ended up with my own double room with private bathroom! The gang headed out for dinner which I won’t lie was a pretty disappointing meal, and chose an early night – all exhausted from our time in Thailand. The next morning, our breakfast was included in the package, and we could pay extra for lunch to take with us. Heading back on to the boat, this time we had a different one with a more comfortable layout and bigger seats – this was even more chilled out than the day before and I had plenty of time to finish my book. We expected to spend around 8 hours on the boat this day but were pleasantly surprised when we had arrived after just six hours. We all parted ways for our guest houses and headed into Luang Prabang by tuk tuk.

A two day boat trip isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time but it does offer you a totally different perspective of Laos that you don’t get otherwise – you get to see the country in its raw, natural state. A rare treat for those who stick to visiting Vang Vieng and Vientienne. For those who get sea sick, this is not an issue. The boat moves to smoothly and slowly that you would really struggle to feel ill – plus you are well distracted while on the boat. You can buy beers and snacks on the boat but go prepared with lunch and cheaper snacks, and don’t worry, there is a toilet. If touchable a choice of sticking to the roads or doing the journey by boat, you’re a hell of a lot safer and more comfortable by boat. Trust me, those drivers are nuts and you won’t get a moment of rest or sleep on those buses. The slow boat offers you a good chance to slow down for few days, because no doubt you partied as hard as I did in Pai, and to rest before starting again in Laos.

Have you travelled by slow boat – what did you think of the journey? What is your favourite mode of transport when you travel?

Ab Lucy sign off