How to apply for a Schengen visa in Ghana

A Schengen visa permits the holder to travel through the schengen area for up to 90 days within a period of 180 days. 26 countries make up the Schengen area and they have their borders opened. Travelers do not pass through passport control.

Though schengen visa gives you access to all the member states, you are to obtain the visa from the country which you intend visiting first.

You can apply for a Schengen visa up to 90 days before your planned date of travel.

Travel within the schengen area is like a domestic trip from Accra to Kumasi. Only an ID is required but sometimes airlines check to see if you still have a valid schengen visa. When traveling from Paris to Frankfurt, not even my Passport was checked.

The Schengen States

Below are the member states of schengen where schengen visas allow travelers to pass freely.

  1. Austria
  2. Belgium
  3. Czech Republic
  4. Denmark
  5. Estonia
  6. Finland
  7. France
  8. Germany
  9. Greece
  10. Hungary
  11. Iceland
  12. Italy
  13. Latvia
  14. Liechtenstein
  15. Lithuania
  16. Luxembourg
  17. Malta
  18. Netherlands
  19. Norway
  20. Poland
  21. Portugal
  22. Slovakia
  23. Slovenia
  24. Spain
  25. Sweden
  26. Switzerland

 

European countries that are not member of the Schengen States

  1. Bulgaria
  2. Croatia
  3. Cyprus
  4. Ireland
  5. Romania
  6. United Kingdom

Visa Requirement

The member states have uniform visa requirements except when you are visiting friends, family members or settling.

Below are the requirements for Schengen Visa:

General Requirements for all Schengen countries

  1. Appointment confirmation; if the embassy requires you book an appointment in advance.
  2. Completed and signed visa application form for Schengen visa. Most embassies prefer the signing date matches the date of submission.
  3. 1 recent passport picture with white background
  4. Visa fee; payable in Ghana Cedis
  5. Valid passport and 1 copy of the passport data page. It should have at least two blank pages for visa and stamps and must be valid for at least 6 months.
  6. Previous passports, if any or available
  7. Birth certificate
  8. Flight reservation for round-trip (not a paid ticket)
  9. Travel health insurance valid for all Schengen States. It’s always good for your insurance to exceed your intended number of days.
  10. Proof of accommodation / hotel reservation. Learn how to book hotel to support visa application here.

11. Proof of sufficient financial means for intended stay

  •  If you are paying for your trip yourself, personal bank statement for the past three to six months
  • If you will be sponsored by someone, READ HERE.
  •  If costs will be covered by the host/institution, it should be indicated in the invitation letter. Each country has a special document/invitation letter where such undertaking is made. See the country specific requirements for more details (coming soon).

12. Proof of social and economic ties to country of residence

  •  marriage certificate and birth certificates of dependent children, if applicable
  • current personal bank statements of the last 3 months
  • for children and students: official leave letter from school or university, including proof of paid school fees and reports
  • if employed: letter of introduction from employer and payslips of the last 3 months
  • if self-employed: business registration documents, tax clearance certificate, proof of active business (bills of lading, import declaration forms, invoices)

Minors

Applicants below 18 years of age are considered minors. If a minor is not accompanied by both parents: parental consent of both parents and copies of their passport/photo ID are required.

In case of sole parental custody, adequate proof has to be provided (e.g. court order, death certificate of other parent).

Additional requirements based on purpose of travel

Airport Transit

  1. Visa/residence permit for final destination. It almost impossible to obtain a transit visa when your final destination is a visa-free country.
  2. Proof of purpose of trip to country of final destination (e.g. invitation letter)

Business

  1. Signed invitation letter from inviting company
  2. Proof of inviting company is registered
  3. Verifiable proof of business with inviting company or proof of down payment, if applicable
  4. Letter from company in country of residence stating purpose of trip

Visit

Signed invitation letter and copy of host’s passport and residence permit. Invitation letters vary depending on member state. Details on how to obtain invitation letters from various countries will be published on Jetsanza.com soon.

Proof of family relation (e.g. birth certificate), if applicable

If purpose of trip is attending a funeral: additionally death certificate of the deceased and confirmation of appointment from the funeral home

Tourism

Travel itinerary. See sample here.

Medical Treatment

  1. Letter from local doctor stating diagnosis
  2. Letter from foreign hospital/doctor stating agreement to treat patient and expected duration
    of treatment.
  3. Overview of estimated costs of surgery/treatment.
  4. Proof of sufficient financial means for treatment and costs of living during the stay
  5. Proof of advance payment of at least 50% – receipt from foreign hospital/doctor

Sports

  1. Letter of invitation from organizer, inviting company or sports club
  2. Letter of introduction from Ghana Sports Council and/or respective sports association/federation that there is no objection for applicant to engage in tournaments or trials for transfers.
  3. Proof of sporting ability (e.g. CV, world ranking, trophies, selection for national team, personal records)

Cultural

  1. Letter of introduction of association and musician card & proof of musical activities
  2. For recording: studio contract & transfer slip for instalment of studio fees
  3. For lessons: contract stating duration and payment
  4. For festivals or concerts: detailed concert schedule, contract stating duration and payment

Internship/Training/Language Course

  1. Letter from host institution or confirmed registration
  2. Information on duration (working hours a week), if applicable
  3. Information on expected salary, if applicable
  4. Proof of payment of the course (for language courses/training)

Trade Fair

Visitors: trade fair ticket

Exhibitors: proof of registration at the trade fair and proof of payment

Letter of introduction from company in country of residence, company’s business registration documents, tax clearance certificate and bank statements of the last 3 to 6 months.

 

Application Process

Schengen visa application process varies from member state to the other. Process for each member state will be available on Jetsanza.com shortly.

READ: How to get Schengen Visa from the German Embassy



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How to successfully apply for South Africa Visitor Visa from Ghana without middleman

South Africa has become one of the favourite destinations of Ghanaians. Most Ghanaian travel lovers have visited South Africa already and a greater percentage of these visitors keep visiting.

The South Africa government recently promised Ghanaians a visa-free entry into the country but until that policy comes into force, Ghanaian passport holders will continue to obtain visas to enter the country.

In its bid to promote tourism, South Africa has made its visa application process very simple.

Below is a step-by-step guide put together by Jetsanza.com to help visa applicants obtain visas without engaging ‘Visa contractors’ or ‘Connection men’ who should be avoided at all cost.

Since most Ghanaians travel to South Africa as tourists, this article will focus on Tourist/Visit Visa applications.

South Africa Visa Application – Step-by-step guide

Documents needed

Visa Application Form

Visa Application Form (BI 84) must be fully completed in BLOCK letters and BLACK ink only (CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD FORM). Not all fields on the form apply to you. Only complete those that apply to you and indicate N/A (meaning NOT APPLICABLE) in all fields that do not apply to you.

Passport

A passport or travel document valid for no less than 30 days after the expiry of your intended visit (2 copies of Bio data page must be attached). Passport must contain at least 3 unused pages for entry / departure endorsements.

Introductory letter

Include an introductory letter from your Employer, School or self-introductory letter if you are self-employed. If you are self-employed, proof of self-employment must be added. This usually comes in the form of Business registration documents from the Registrar Generals’ Department.

Yellow-fever vaccination certificate

An international yellow-fever vaccination certificate is required for all travelers entering South Africa. Obtain this certificate from the hospital immediately you dream of visiting South Africa.  A copy of front page and page with vaccination details must also be attached.

Photographs

Two colour passport photographs

Flight itinerary

Flight itinerary is required. Do not confirm your bookings until you have been issued a visa or asked to do so. Make sure your travel dates on the flight itinerary match the dates of your hotel bookings or within the period you hosts expects you (that’s if someone is inviting you).

Proof of accommodation

If you have someone in South Africa you will be staying with during your stay in the country, the following documents are needed to serve as proof of accommodation:

  • Utility bill-in form of Recent Water or Electricity Bills(Rates and Taxes) or Tenancy agreement or Accommodation Lease Document from SA)
  • Signed Invitation letter from host
  • Certified copy of host passport or South African ID

For applicants who do not have hosts in South Africa can simply make a hotel reservation to serve as their Proof of accommodation in South Africa. Click HERE to make your hotel reservation or return to this page to follow the link anytime who wish to make your reservation. Booking.com accepts almost all cards/ATM issued in Ghana.

Proof of financial means

Applicants are to prove that they have means to support themselves financially while in South Africa. The Proof of financial means comes in the form of Bank Statements; recent 3 months original Bank statements certified by the bank. Statements that are not certified are usually rejected. Some banks including SG-SSB do not certify Bank Statements. In such cases, you are to talk to your Branch Manager and insist on this.

If you are a salaried worker, include 3 of your recent payslips.

If your trip is being sponsored, the following are needed:

  • Letter of sponsorship
  • Recent 3 months original Bank statement certified by bank
  • Sponsor’s proof of employment
  • Copy of sponsors passport
  • For Corporate clients ONLY: Written Financial undertaking by the Host(s) in South Africa / Employer in Ghana

Tourist visa applicants are still REQUIRED to submit personal 3 months recent certified bank statement, even if sponsored.

For Minors

Minors are also required to obtain visas. Below are the documents needed:

NOTE: All the above documents in a language other than English must be translated.

Submission at the Visa Application Center

Once you have all the needed documents, make the Visa Fee and VFS Service Fee ready when submitting the application at the VFS Visa Application Center. Note that the South Africa Embassy or High Commission only accept applications through the VFS. The Visa fee is GHS 136 and a ridiculous VFS Service Charge of GHS 315. These fees are increased regularly so make sure you check from the VFS website for the updated Visa and Service Fees or call VFS on 0302 746211.

The South Africa Visa application Centre is located at East Cantoments near NAFTI. Locate them at the address below:

VFS Ghana Private Limited
South Africa Visa Application Centre
Behind Marina Mall,
Airport City
Accra, Ghana

Note that, if you want your passport to be delivered to you at home when decision is taken, you can opt for it. It attracts a fee.

UPDATED: The Visa Application Center now requires that applicants book appointment in advance. Click HERE to book appoint to submit your South Africa Visa Application.

What happens after submission?

When the VFS receives your application, they will forward to the South Africa High Commission for a decision to be taken on your application. Decision to issue a visa is only the sole responsibility of the Consular. You will be notified by SMS or DHL (if you paid for courier) when decision has been taken and your passport is ready for collection.

You can also track the status of your application online HERE.

What to pack when traveling

Most (If not all) visa applications come out successful. Remember not to forget these when packing:

  • Yellow Fever vaccination Card
  • Return ticket (make sure days of stay corresponds to or less than the permitted number of days to stay)
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Funds for your stay (Cash and/or cards)

Still have questions? Click HERE to ask.

 

VISA FORM: How to answer when asked if you know someone in the country you are visiting

Do you know someone in the United Kingdom? This question stands tall among the many travel-related questions readers send to Jetsanza.com.

As this may sound very simple with a YES or NO answer, it can really influence the outcome of your visa application as you may end up lying or giving out false information.

This question appears on almost all visa application forms but readers who sent in questions asked in relation to UK visa applications. The answer to this question applies to all countries.

Do you know someone in the UK?

Almost every Ghanaian knows someone in the UK. If even you don’t have a relative, you may have friends, school mates or even people who got to know through friends and social media. So the likelihood of you answering YES to this question is very high.

Do you really know someone in the UK?

You might have answered YES already but do you really know someone in the UK? If you know someone, you are expected to know much about he person or at least some basic information that you may be asked. Most of these Visa Forms go ahead to ask you names, addresses, telephone numbers and even more about the person you claim to know.

So now ask yourself again, do you really know someone in the UK or the country you are applying a visa for? If you don’t have any information about the person(s) you are claiming to know, you don’t know him. If you know someone, you should be able to know their marital status, children, and even their religious background.

How do you answer then?

If you actually know the person and have all information about him/her, go ahead and answer YES. If you don’t have the information but can obtain from them, go ahead and answer YES. As you answer YES, make sure you have notified all the persons you’ve mentioned since they may deny knowing you if the embassy happens to crosscheck from them. If you have been told by your parents that your grannies or aunties live in the UK but you have no information about them and their whereabouts, or you know someone in the UK but have little information about them and cannot obtain further details from them, answer NO. You don’t ‘know’ them.

But answering NO isn’t entirely true because you somehow know them. You see how tricky this could be? And remember it’s hard to defend lies throughout your many travels and as such it would be in your best interest to provide accurate information at the time of applying for visa.

What do you do then?

If you don’t really know anyone, then you can go ahead and answer NO and that’s all but if you know someone but have very little information about them or they play no role in your travel, take advantage of the additional information section to tell the visa consular about this. State that you know people in the UK but have very little or no information about them and that’s why you answered NO to that question.

Why is this question very important?

Like any other question on a visa application form, this is equally important. The status of the person you know could influence the outcome of your visa application. Knowing a wanted criminal or the Queen can affect the outcome of your application negatively and positively, respectively. It can also tell if you have people to count on for assistance when the need arises. It could also mean that such people would make it easy for you to remain in the country as an illegal immigrant should you decide not to return to your home country.

Disclaimer: This is just an answer to a question and adhering to this does not guarantee the issuance of a visa.

SOLVED: Difficulty in signing and submitting DV lottery DS-260 form

Winners of Diversity Visa lottery are expected to complete form DS-260 to initiate the visa application process.

Almost all applicants get stuck at the last stage of the DS-260 form where the person filling the form has to sign and submit.

A KCC Case Number error is returned upon submission and this leaves many worried. Some even think their case numbers are wrong or they have been removed from the list of winners.

To solve this, first crosscheck to ensure you keyed in the right Case Number. Case numbers have the following format:

2019AF000112345

Now clear all the Zeros that come after the letter ‘F’. It should then look like this:

2019AF112345

Submit the form and this should work.

If it still fails to submit, then you may call the Kentucky Consular Center at +1 606-526-7500 between 7:30am and 4:00pm EST or E-mail them at [email protected] with details of the problem.

Indian eVisa Application: Step-by-step guide

Tourists visiting India are required to hold valid International Passports along with eVisas.

The Indian eVisa application is very simple and in most cases, Visas are approved and issued within two working days.

Before you go ahead to apply, make sure you’ve already made some travel plans or have an idea of when you are traveling, airport you will be arriving and where you intend to stay. These details would be needed to complete the visa application form.

On the Visa Application website, follow these steps:

1. Click on the eVISA. Make sure you don’t select REGULAR VISA APPLICATION as this will take you through a process and ask you to submit a printed form to the Indian Mission.

2. Fill in the details requested. Choose visa type and then submit.

3. The new page issues you with a Temporary Application ID in this format: 492XA223VZ7W8FZ. Take note of the ID as you may need it in case something happens in the application process. The ID will help you retrieve your application and continue from where you left.

Not all the details on the forms may apply to you. Where it doesn’t apply to you, type in NA. NA means Not Applicable.

When done, SAVE AND CONTINUE

4. This section takes details of your address, family and employment. Key in your address, parents’ details and that of your employment as the form requests. Then SAVE AND CONTINUE.

5. This section asks for more information about your travel. Places to be visited are the cities you intend to visit while in India. In selecting the duration of your visa, note that visas would be valid for only 60 days from the time of your first entry though the entire visa may be valid for 4 months. Indian Evisas are usually double-entry visas. So take advantage and select DOUBLE ENTRIES just in case you may want to visit again soon or visit nearby country that may require you to return to India to catch a flight to your home country. Luckily, this is selected most times by default. So you won’t have to do anything.

Reference Name in India in India is the name of your hotel where you intend to stay. Provide the hotel’s details as reference. Move on to the next page.

6. Answer the simple security questions and move to the next step. Take note that the system selects YES for all. Read through and select NO where appropriate.

7. You are requested to upload passport photo of yourself. Do not crop the photograph in your passport and upload. The photo must be in JPEG Format, Minimum 10 KB , Maximum 1 MB, Minimum 350 pixels (width) x 350 pixels (height) with white background.

8. You are to upload a copy of your passport. Scan your passport photo page or take a nice picture of it. Then convert image to PDF. Make sure it meets the following:

– Format PDF
– Size Minimum 10 KB
– Maximum 300 KB
– Passport Upload- Photo page of Passport containing personal details like name,date of birth, nationality , expiry date etc. to be uploaded by the applicant.
– Photo page of Passport uploaded should be of the same passport whose details are provided in Passport Details section.
– The application is liable to be rejected if the uploaded document is not clear and as per specification.

9. Submit. Then review the information you provided. If all is well, continue. If not, edit.

10. You have option of paying immediately with visa/mastercard or save the codes provided to pay later.

Once done, a confirmation will be sent to your email and your Indian eVisa should follow in a day or two later.

VISA FEE: USD 80.

Do you have Yellow Fever Vaccination card? India requires that all travelers arriving in the country hold proof of Yellow Fever Vaccination.

10 Tips for Passengers Using the Kotoka International Airport

For years, Ghana’s only international airport, Kotoka International Airport (KIA) has had some construction and renovation works ongoing. Though these construction works do not pose any threats to travellers and workers who use the facility, these works have always had a telling effect on people who are using the place for the first time. Frequent users of the Kotoka International Airport may relate to these observations.

First time users of the Kotoka International Airport, have always faced some challenges which are not supposed to be faced at an airport with the “international” tag, yet they do go through these ordeals.

Ten (10) critical points to take note, to help you enjoy a hassle-free trip from the Kotoka International Airport;

1. Yellow Fever Vaccination Card

Countries like South Africa, Kenya, Ghana and India require visitors to hold a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination card (Yellow card) before they are allowed entry into the country. Passengers traveling from Ghana are required to hold Yellow cards even if it’s not required by their country of destination. It’s significant that travellers obtain a copy of this card prior to their travel. This card could be attained at the Health Desk of KIA. It’s interesting to know that, less than 1% of the card holders have taken the vaccine. When I started traveling, the way the card’s issue was handled made me feel, the card had been designed in such a way that, once you possess it, it transfers the vaccine into your system…Lol. I ask the question, what is important? The card or the vaccine!

2. Electronic Boarding Pass (e-pass)

The world is going hi-tech and airlines are even encouraging passengers to check-in online and save their details on their mobile devices. It is unfortunate that these e-passes are not accepted at the KIA, as there are no barcode scanners to check their authenticity. You may want to try the option of calling out your ticket number to be confirmed for you, but airline staff at KIA only accept printed tickets. In other countries I have visited, I only give them my passport and I am good to go. When they have any questions, they then request for my ticket or e-pass from my phone. Ghana wants the paper ticket. Not only the ticket but all other documents relevant to your trip like hotel bookings must all be printed out. Print everything that you may need to avoid disappointments while the environment suffers.

3. No Free Internet

Many airports worldwide have wireless internet services, but not the KIA. Passengers at KIA do not enjoy wireless internet services. If there is anything relevant to your travel that you may need to check online, you are advised to do so before coming to the airport. If you have enough internet data on your SIM, it’s cool, because the internet facility at the airport opens around 9am. Passengers who are travelling very early in the day would have a problem if they need to use the internet facility at the airport.
Update: The airport no longer has internet facility.

4. Security Of Luggage

Many passengers think locking your luggage with a good padlock will make it safer but that isn’t the case of KIA. At Kotoka International Airport, the tip of a pen is easily used to unzip luggage. It’s advisable to wrap valuables, take advantage of the wrapping services available at the KIA to wrap your luggage. It will take some time before luggage handlers can unwrap a luggage should they wish to do so, if it is wrapped. This aids you from losing items. Do not put cash, mobile phones, jewelries and other valuables in your travelling bag. It’s always safer to carry them in your hand luggage. In the case of expensive perfumes, you cannot carry them in your hand luggage since liquids are not allowed on board.

5. Seek Assistance From Uniformed Personnel Only

In many airports around the world, people try to offer assistance in the form of pushing trolleys. Only deal with uniformed employees. These employees, aside their uniforms, are identified by their ID tags that have their names and photos. When picking a taxi at KIA, you are advised to use the services of the airport registered taxis despite their outrageous fares. These taxis have special stickers provided by the airport authorities for easy identification. The U.K. and U.S governments on their respective websites advise their citizens to be wary of luggage and document theft at KIA. Do not leave your luggage unattended to and always keep your travel documents safe.

6. Don’t Rely On The In-house Forex Bureau

Undoubtedly, the Air Commerce Forex Bureau provides the best Forex rates in the market. With this, I believe non-passengers go there to do transactions. There are always not enough dollars to meet travellers needs. Just this December, I was able to get only $65 out of the $100 I needed. It is always disappointing for passengers in need of larger amounts. It is advisable to change your currencies before going to the Kotoka International Airport. Many have been frustrated by not getting their Ghana Cedis exchanged into foreign denominations before their trips, hence leaving them in difficult situations.

7. Early Check-in

One important thing to do is to report at the airport early enough on the day of your trip. This gives you enough time to attend to any unplanned event. If you arrive at the airport earlier than expected, you can have time to send excess luggage home. The KIA does not provide courier services that send luggage deemed excess back to passengers’ place of residence.

8. Passports Must Be Readily Available To Allow Entry

It’s good to keep your travel documents safe but remember not to send your passport far inside your bag since you will be required to show it at the gate to allow you entry into the departure hall. It will be very embarrassing to open your bag at the entrance in search of your passport. The KIA is too small to accommodate non-travellers though many find their way through by just showing a passport (not necessarily theirs) and a blank A4 sheet posing as air ticket. If your family and friends are traveling from far to see you off with the hope of entering the airport, it’s advisable to stop them or they can try their luck with a passport and A4 sheet. I have always preferred saying goodbye to my family at home rather than having them come to the airport where they can’t come in to provide any assistance. I have heard many passengers complain and others fight because, their friends and relatives were not allowed in. We all admit that, the airport cannot accommodate the number of people who wish to come in. This poses a big security threat to passengers. The airport is already choked in the evenings by passengers and allowing non-travellers will be a major security threat.

9. The Fears Of The First Time Traveller

First time travellers from Ghana are always filled with fears. This shouldn’t have been the case when you have the right travel documents and know what you are up to. Many fast and pray for days prior to their first trip just to be allowed by airline and immigration personnel to travel. First time travellers are always perceived as “illegal migrants”. So airlines try as much as possible to make sure such passengers do meet all immigration requirements. Airlines are charged fees whenever they carry a passenger who shouldn’t have been on board. As a first time traveller, it’s advisable to carry documents relating to your purpose of travel. If your VISA does not allow you to settle in the country of destination, you must carry a return ticket. The funds on you should be able to convince anyone that it can take care of you throughout your stay. There have been instances where passengers do not even know the purpose of their journeys because their trips were probably planned by Visa Contractors. Such passengers are likely to be refused boarding.

Read Much About On Your Trip

People are often lazy to read about their trips and would rather update their Facebook statuses on the trip. It’s always advisable to contact the consul of the country you are visiting for answers to all inquiries. You can also visit the embassy’s website for some FAQs. Staff at KIA are fond of giving conflicting responses to inquiries made by passengers. This applies to airline staff also. You are left in a state of despair if you receive conflicting answers to your questions. A typical example is a passenger traveling to Georgia on an e-visa. A passenger was told she needed a transit visa to Turkey or a Schengen visa before she will be allowed on Turkish Airline. Another employee of the airline said there’s no visa needed to transit in Turkey once you do not go out of the airport. The embassies are the right places to make all inquiries.

If you try to follow these points religiously, you would enjoy your first time using the Kotoka International Airport as a passenger.

Ten (10) Consideration For Travelers In Buying Air Tickets

Photo: Getty Images

Most often, purchasing travel tickets are perceived to be a cash-and-carry thing but travelers usually end up paying much than they budgeted for. The cheapest fares usually ends up to be the most expensive ones especially, when we are not sure of our travel dates or if the tickets does not offer the option of date change.
These are ten (10) guidelines to aid you make a better choice, when you intend buying an air ticket for your trip.

1. Check which airlines you can use without a transit visa or if you have the necessary documents to use the airline

Travel agents mostly assume you have all the necessary documents for your trip, so they sell tickets to you without hesitation. Depending on your passport and other documents, it may require you get a transit visa to be able to use some airlines with the exception of flights that do not make stops. Check with the airline first if you require a transit visa. Travels to certain destinations may require an “OK to board”. The airline examines your travel documents and cross-checks them with the respective issuing authorities before they give you the nod to purchase the ticket. Check with the airline thoroughly before tickets are purchased because you will be denied boarding if you require an “OK to board”. Asians traveling on Emirates requires this when traveling to certain destinations. Certain airlines require holders of Ghana passports traveling with e-visas to apply for an “OK to board”. If you need it, the airline will direct you on how to get it done.

SEVEN TIPS, EVERY “WOULD-BE” TRAVELLER SHOULD KNOW

People frequently say -“if travelling was free, you would never see me again

At one point or another, every individual will travel; It may be down the street to work, a weekend away visiting relatives or five thousand miles to a distant land for an adventurous vacation”.

For centuries the human imagination has yearned to discover- be it new places, people, culture or experience- to satiate curiosity and ascertain or disprove myths and legends. What better way than to do all this than travelling?!

People around the world travel in varying ways for diverse reasons- irrespective of it being by road, rail, air, or sea, one thing is for sure – there are certain things that you must know.

 

  1. THE BASIC TWO: Where should I go? And why am I going?

An obvious question that needs to be answered before you go on a trip is “what destination are you going to”? You must pinpoint the exact location(s) you would be going. Then there is the “why?”. Reasons for travelling may differ- from necessity to allure, to luxury, to sightseeing, down to the sheer urge associated with “impulse travellers” / “travel mavericks” – The plethora of the motives for travelling is endless. Albeit the thrill, risk and excitement associated with the latter two, most people usually have a clear idea as to the where? And why? And that is the best and safest line to tow.

 

  1. SETTING A DATE/ TIME AND STICKING TO IT

Don’t put off until tomorrow, what you can do today”. Most people have the desire to travel but are constantly postponing it because of various reasons; work, school, or insufficient funds. In reality, these reasons are illusional and are just like the proverbial cloud preventing the chicken from moving.

One of the pieces of advice “regular” travellers and adventure seekers would give you is that the minute you realise that you want to travel, “Just go for it”! Instead of churning up reasons why you can’t go, focus on all the wonderful experiences to be gained through travelling.

You don’t have to plan an extravagant trip, that would take you half-way across the world. It just needs to be something that gives you joy- a trip to the museum, the beach, or even you, walking your friend down the street!!!! Actually, it is the simple things; the simple places in life that hold the most effect.

 

  1. GRAB A PAL- MAKE A TRAVEL TAG TEAM

What better way to travel than with someone who packs along a whole lot of fun?!!! In tune with the mantra that: “ the world is best seen in ‘twos’ ”, when you finally decide on when and where you want to travel to, choose someone that would make your trip more exciting.

Having a travelling companion brings numerous benefits- someone to talk to, someone to share those extra calories from that pizza, not to mention the numerous shopping exercises to be made!!!!

 

  1. INSTAGRAM ANYONE!

A picture speaks a thousand words; and what better way to narrate a story of your adventures than to keep your Instagram and Facebook pages updated with your vacation pictures. Take a picture next to a monument, with the locals of the place you visiting, or whilst you gobble down a plate of food!!!

Mind you, you don’t need to be a professional photographer to take a beautiful picture, you just need a beautiful smile!!!

It’s not only the beauty and lure of narrating your experience via the visual that makes your pictures a necessity, it is also the security and information it provides to your friends and loved ones as to your location. This is essential so that they can easily track you in the event of an emergency.

 

  1. JUST GO WITH THE FLOW!

Many travellers, especially first-time ones, go “all out” planning the direction in which their trip should go.- this may range from important things such as hotel choice to trivial matters such as the gum to chew daily. Yes, it is good to plan and it is advisable to plan certain aspects of your trip but sometimes life is best enjoyed when you just have to let loose and roll with the punches. Be spontaneous!!!!

Do things that are out of your comfort zone- eat a new delicacy no matter how it may physically look, hang out with the locals at the city hotspot, go skydiving. Some of the best moments and experiences in life are the ones that happen unexpectedly

 

  1. LAY DOWN AND REST

Although you are travelling to see new sites and wonders, don’t forget to rest. In planning for your trip, remember to factor in a place to rest when the day is done. Depending on the place (country) you intend to visit, find a place where you can stay and keep your things.

You can decide to stay in a hotel, guesthouse or rented apartments and if you are lucky, in the home of a friend or acquaintance who happens to reside in the area you would be visiting.

Do research on the safest places to stay for travellers. You can simply google such places– many of which have websites and Facebook pages. Doing this before setting off for your trip would give you the opportunity to adequately budget, and ensure you are not cheated by the owners of such places of abode.

 

  1. LEARN THE TONGUE- namaste, bonjour, hola, si, amigo, ni hao, whatever

One of the toughest yet better rewarding things is learning a foreign language. As you embark on your travels, keep in mind that many of the places you will be visiting, have people who speak a totally different dialect to the one that you might be used to.

To ensure that you do not get lost in the sea of languages, try and learn a few of the words and phrases of the area you would be visiting.

You don’t need to be fluent, but do learn enough so that you can communicate without much difficulty. Common greetings, names of food and objects and numbers should be enough to get you by on your travels.

 

In preparing for your trip remember this main tip- HAVE FUN!!!!!

The main reason for travelling is to experience something new. Don’t take things so seriously on your travels. Be free like a bird. Learn and laugh as much as you can. Memories are for a lifetime, and amazing memories are priceless beauties that will eternally change your life!!!!

Yellow Fever – Is the certificate mightier than the vaccine?

Yellow Fever vaccination is one of the foremost things you would have to consider when making travel arrangements, as the World Health Organization (WHO) reports 30,000 deaths yearly due to this disease.

The introduction of the vaccine brought some form of relief to the traveller, however, since the introduction, authorities are making the everyday traveller assume possessing the International Certificate of Vaccination is synonymous to taking the vaccine. Majority of the health facilities and health desks in most African airports and borders only issue the vaccination certificate at a fee without actually administering the vaccine.

People exiting Ghana through Aflao, and do not possess International Certificate of Vaccination are issued copies without receiving the vaccine and sometimes are even made to pay specific amounts, devoid of the certificate. It has become a norm for passengers travelling from Ghana and have not taken the vaccine, to only purchase the certificate. Passengers arriving in Kenya without the certificate are issued copies at a fee without any form of vaccination against yellow fever.

As a person travelling, it is for your good and safety to regard yellow fever as dangerous as, either HIV-AIDS or Ebola. Acquiring and possessing the certificate just for immigration purposes will always put your life at risk, as the document is not a guarantee of good health nor a form of protection against the deadly yellow fever. Possessing the yellow fever vaccine certificate without actually taken the vaccine is like “operating with a fake document, there is always the possibility of you being caught!” (i.e. you are always open to acquiring the disease)

I am bothered, why authorities at various ports in Africa, are only interested in being shown the certificate or issuing the document, without putting in measures to check if a traveller has vaccinated against the disease.

Journeys are supposed to be enjoyed to the fullest, and it is always an excellent occasion to relieve some stress and also enjoy both natural and human-made scenes that come with it. So when a critical part of the process, such as this is ignored, then your guess is as good as mine.

READ ALSO: Yellow Fever Vaccination Card: Validity, Vaccination Centers, Replacement, Affected Countries

China: Behind the Business Scenes

China has one of the largest economies in the world and it is arguably the “most vibrant” economy on the globe also. The country receives 10,000s of visitors on a daily basis most of whom come to do business.
Guangzhou and Yiwu are major business centres in China, one is expected to see trade activities anytime they go to these cities but, there is more to it than just business!

As part of my plans to see as much of the world as I can, I visited China later 2014. I had the chance to see Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xiamen, Jinan, Beijing, Zhijiang, Jining, Zuocheng and the beautiful city, Liaocheng.I must admit, China has a lot to offer any kind of visitor, be it on vacation, for business, to study, or even for pleasure. Majority of the people who visit for business end up in Guangzhou or Yiwu. I spent some days in Guangzhou and had this mind boggling revelation; trade activities didn’t just border on goods but also sex! Oh yes sex trade is booming in Guangzhou.

Some of the ladies from Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya who enter China with the aim of going to work or school, end up trading in sex. Aside Paris that I know of, Guangzhou is one of the cities in the world where most people meet to trade in sex. Had it not been China, I wouldn’t know Ghana was well known for “big butt” ladies and it is perceived as one of our trade commodities.

The major business district is “Thong Thong” in Guangzhou. Thong Thong is a name of a popular hotel where most travelers lodge. So the area is popularly called by the name of the hotel. It is perceived that, anyone who has been to Guangzhou has visited this area.

Some businessmen take advantage of their business trips to partake in the “prominent but silent” sex trade. Depending on your negotiation skills, it could cost you between 300 RMB to 800 RMB ($50 – $133).

Nightlife in China is exciting and vibrant to the extent that, most people hide behind going to do business, to actually have a feel of it. I met a guy who visits China with just $1,500 and a return ticket, with the sole aim of enjoying what the night has to offer in China.

The sad part of the story is that, these ladies who are indulged in this trade are known by their families back home in Africa to be doing a morally upright Job in China. There is also another sect of ladies who visit for a short while to do business but do some alongside “sex trade”.

In Yiwu especially, there are men who have rented rooms mainly to host women, who are there to do business for free. These women see it financially prudent because they save their hotel charges for other things. And therefore share the bed of their male hosts, the pathetic aspect of these sect of ladies is that, they are usually married women.

One of these days, renowned investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his Tiger Eye PI team should make a stop in China and more shocking and mind boggling revelations will definitely come up.

Featured Photo: File/JetSANZA.com