Solo Traveller & Need a Schengen Visa? Ditch the Travel agents! #Mumbai

The last year and half have been a high speed, roller coaster ride in my work area. A lot of learning, growing and results. I even wrote a post about “Not on the Road but always a Traveller” – because I simply haven’t been able to travel much the last year.

Finally situations changed and I find myself planning for some hard core solo travelling in Europe! A place which I have always thought of as the mecca for solo travellers – 1 visa, 27 countries, 1st world safety and so on.

I scoured online sites and blogs, because I wanted to plan something different. Europe, especially for a first trip is a mind boggling destination. So after looking at lot of things, figuring out vague budget estimates, I had a trip sketch in mind. Now, considering that this is my first solo international trip, I thought of getting a travel agent to smooth out the entire planning.

Imagine my utter dismay, when 3 well recommended travel agents told me that I would never get the schengen visa. Two of them gave me a 100% guarantee that I will never get one. Here is why,

Solo Travel

“Solo travellers can just go to another country and marry there”

The first Big reason they gave was because this was solo travel. Imagine after all my years of solo travelling and having this travel blog and all. Someone tells me ‘Oh, you are a solo traveller, you will never get schengen visa’

Trip Duration

“If you are going there for a month, you might just work there illegally”

The second Big reason they gave was because the trip I was planning was longer than the “usual” 15 – 20 days. Even though the official websites state that the term for a short term tourist visa is 90 days, these travel agents insisted that I will never get a visa for more than 20 days.

Camping

“They will not believe this. The consulate staff don’t understand these kind of things”

Camping is a common culture in many European countries and I plan to camp for few days in Europe. This I also agree was a bit tricky, as we need to give a well planned & booked itinerary while applying for visa while camping is random. However the travel agents did not see this as such a big reason Because the above two are enough for a 100% rejection of your visa application anyway.

It all turned out to be Big Bull Shit.

I spent a lot of time worried and disgruntled. Because if the above reasons were true, I didn’t want to go to Europe. I have been travelling happily across India, with numerous month long trips and now when I am getting to go to Europe – I have to do a 15 day, non-solo trip!!?? No chance!

So I spoke to my friend & fellow travel blogger who has travelled some gazillion countries across the world – Snigdha Jain. She was the force behind what I did next.

She told me to “Just Apply”.

And within my family we also discussed the same. The fact was that I didn’t want to go to Europe for 15 days & that too non-solo. I would rather then just travel somewhere else. More over we just could not believe that a solo traveller would not get a visa to Europe! It is bizarre.

So I compiled everything needed from flight tickets to cover letter to stay bookings to travel insurance and so on. It was not that difficult, just very, very time consuming. And I was worried about doing something wrong. Also weighed down by all the dire warnings that the ‘well-recommended’ travel agents gave me.

Finally applied on 29/06/2015.

I had my visa on 3/07/2015.

No questions asked. No hassles. All the days I wanted.

Thanks Deutschland <3

My faith in Euroland intact.

And as to my travel plans and travelogues… well they will follow. I may not be able to blog so much while on the road, but I will be updating my personal Twitter & Facebook page with quick updates. I also have a Whatsapp group for close associates, in case you are really keen then share your number. 🙂

Oh, and if you have any suggestions on what all to do in Europe do share in comments.

Schengen Visa
Did you know that this is the official flag for Europe? I didn’t know there was a flag for the European Union until just a while back!
  • Same Thoughts as mine! As some who always ditches the TA’s who are nothing but a few crooks, Applying direct always works. But, not every embassy is the same. I had a very different experience and infact wrote a post on that.

    http://www.nswamy.com/dawn/2015/i-speak/definitive-guide-europe-trip-middleclass-indian/

    • Thanks for the comment. I read through your post… Covers many points well 🙂
      I also feel that an original cover letter helps. 🙂

  • Don Corleone

    So you finally got the visa! and completed the trip! Btw, what did u provide as proof for hotel bookings for those days / nights when u had planned to camp along the way?!

    • Well I provided a list of planned camping sites, with their website URLs and map marking the route.
      I think in tandem with everything else it worked. 🙂

      • Don Corleone

        Great…nice to hear…so you didnt actually book..u just gave details and the URLs? sometimes i feel this schengen visa issue has been too hyped up by some indian travel agents…otoh, its okay in a sense since we indians have a habit to become very complacent…

        • The travel agents are much more conventional and strict in their visa because I think they have a more stricter checking…. These countries have a DIY culture you know…

          Also my kind of application gets passed on basis of overall impression I feel… Any one thing is not necessarily decisive.

          Also tbh the complacent type of Indians probably won’t make such an application that says, I want to come and cycle 😉

          • Don Corleone

            Haha…true…normal people from India wont apply saying “I want to come and cycle” ..LOL! And could you please elaborate if you dont mind what do you mean by “overall impression”..have already been to europe..but thru a travel agent…planning to visit soon again…this time all by myself..tickets..visas etc..normally they issue visas for 30 days now…you got 90 days? gave ur entire day by day itinerary?

            • Well, I did many things…. I got a letter from a work assignment organization – that I have pending work with them. Gave a really well written cover letter – written by myself as I am a professional communications person….

              Gave additional papers about this blog, my history as a solo traveler in India and all that. So I think it created a good overall case you know.
              I wanted to apply for 75 days first but after the travel agents scared me I applied and got a 50 day visa.

              Applying on your own for the first time is a bit daunting as you might forget something or there are many small details to get right. But all information is scattered on the internet. Research needs to be done. I also know of other people who have done n gotten visa.

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  • Pratishtha Choudhary

    hie
    Do we require flight tickets and accomodation proofs while visa interview?

    • Yes, you do.

      • Ambalika

        hey Priyanka,
        will dummy tickets do??

        • Hey Ambalika,
          What exactly do you mean by Dummy tickets?
          Are those seats kept reserved tentatively by travel agent but not actually booked? That is tricky situation. Cause sometimes despite verbal reservation, the airline gives those tickets to someone else. In which case IF the embassy tries to confirm the booking, they will find it is not available. (Embassy may not always try to confirm)
          So it is suggested to avoid dummy booking.

          • Ambalika

            hey Priyanka,
            Thanks for the prompt reply.
            so yes dummy tickets are not the REAL tickets.
            The agency i was talking to, told me that even the embassy nowadays feels it is better to book dummy tickets, since there always is a high change of visa denial for solo travelers.
            I also know few friends who have got their visa accepted this way (showing dummy tickets)
            The only plus here, is that my REAL ticket money will not go waste if in case the visa is rejected.
            Let me know what you think
            Thanks

            • Hey Ambalika,

              Yes I know what you are saying. But in all my research I had done then, it overall did not seem such a good idea. I generally don’t go with what travel agents are saying, because they say solo travellers don’t get visa easily – this itself is wrong.
              Through travel agents solo travellers may not get visa – because travel agents don’t know how to go about it.

              I agree about the benefits of not spending on tickets before you get your visa – but as far as I know none of my travel friends are doing it this way. Everyone buys the ticket first. So that’s all I can say. Your call.

              • Ambalika

                Alright
                Thank you so much!!
                i might just book the real ticket in that case, be it a little expensive :p
                Also, I do not have a huge bank account balance, so i will be showing my parents’ that the trip is sponsored by my parents. Will apparently give the needful documents for teh same case
                Hope this works ….
                Thanks again

  • Naresa Pereira

    Hi Priyanka,

    Read your blog & felt positive since I am struggling for my VISA.
    I have my tickets booked for Germany & i plan to visit 2 more countries frm there. But as usual all the agents i spoke to tell me its quiet difficult to get a VISA since am Single & Solo traveller.
    If possible can u guide me through this process. I am travelling on 17 Apr 2017

    Regards,
    Naresa Pereira