Teacher. Researcher. Soul-winner. Musician. Volunteer. Blogger. Traveler. No matter how busy we are, we should not forget to take time to see the beauty all around us–I call it ‘de-stressing’. I applied for my visa and booked my ticket together with my camera, backpack and small luggage to chase the beautiful autumn colors in South Korea. I usually travel alone but this time, I travelled with new travel buddies (Planned Travel: 6 ; Actual Travel: 3). What happened? It was not as easy as it used to be.. but I finally got over it. Lessons are learned. ^_^ After this trip I’ve realized, I should run my own travel agency 😀 I am writing this so some might learn from this experience.
A year ago, we already booked our ticket for a price of USD231.45 for 4 people (it’s the cheapest promo we’ve got!) but we still didn’t have our visa at that time. A month before our travel, we started to prepare our documents according to what is required form each of us from the Korean embassy. We planned to travel as a group but due to our personal and professional schedules and consolidation of visa requirements, we could not submit our documents together to apply for visa as a group. Person B + 1 Child applied first (result is out after 5 days); then Person C (result is out after 3 days); then Person A + 1 Child (result is out after 5 days). The latter lacks ITR because she is new to her job so they had to write a written letter of explanation to the Consul.
|Person A + 1 Child||Person A never traveled outside the country; new job (no previous formal job); employer cannot provide ITR; bank certificate–ok; bank statement–ok; COE–ok; the child never traveled outside the country||Denied
|Person B + 1 Child||Person B traveled to Korea at least once; has ‘denied’ visa to 1 OECD country; complete visa requirements; the child never traveled outside the country||Single-entry visa
|Person C||Person C Self-employed; Traveled to Korea twice; traveled to OECD countries; COE–ok; Bank statement–ok; Bank certificate–ok; no ITR provided this time||Multiple visa (3 years)|
|Person D||Visa Requirements= No problem; permanent employee; she just decided to cancel her trip||*Did not apply for visa|
Okay! So, when you are planning to travel with your friends or family, make sure everything is planned and well-prepared so as not to cause any trouble with anyone in the group and otherwise it might cost you a lot of money. Here are some tips to get you started:
Lesson 1: if you plan to travel to Korea or any country requiring a visa, plan to travel first to cheaper destinations such as Hongkong, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau to get a passport stamp. This will increase your travel credibility through your travel records.
Lesson 2: if you are not employed and you want to travel to a visa-requiring country, get a job first. Before you commit though, ask if the employer or the company is providing ITR or BIR 2307 or BIR 2316 form. If not, find another job available. Without ITR, it would be difficult for you to hit your travel goal. Give yourself at least 6 months-1 year in this job then you can confidently request for an ITR.
Lesson 3. if you do not have a bank account yet, open now! Not only you will need to save up for your travel but also the Korean embassy requires an Average Daily Balance. Meaning to say, your bank account should be at least 6 months old. If you are curious what is the safe amount to put in this account–put at least 2-3 months of your monthly salary. If I were the officer at the embassy, I would check if your monthly salary commensurate your savings.
Lesson 4. Do not book your ticket or accommodations before applying for a visa especially if you are a first-time traveler. Save yourself from costs and headache. You might not know until you get the result. There are a lot of accommodations in South Korea and the rate is most likely fixed so nothing to worry about.
Lesson 5. Don’t miss your flight! Traffic jam is unacceptable excuse. I arrived few minutes (5 minutes to be exact) after the start of boarding time. The plane had not departed yet (the security even told me that the departure time would be delayed) however the airline attendant did not allow me to pass through no matter how I plead so I had to rebook my flight and refund my unused ticket.
LESSONS learned! All throughout the preparation up to the implementation, bear these three things in mind: BE PREPARED, BE CONSISTENT and DON’T BE LATE. I cannot emphasize it any further. Autumn is a beautiful season. Don’t miss it! Wish you best in your next travel!
The Official Traveler