2016: A year of visa-free travel

Read our previous post to read our motivations for deciding to travel visa-free for a little more than a year now. In this post we’ll describe how we did it, which countries we visited along with arrival costs and pictures. Also, a very merry Christmas to our readers  🙂

How we decided where to go

Our situation helped us immensely as we are Indian passport holders holding long-term UK visas. The second best thing to having a first-world passport is a first-world visa, something relatively more common than say 15-20 years ago.

Golden URLhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_requirements_for_Indian_citizens

There’s a similar URL for all nationalities ex: replacing Indian in the URL above with British, United_States (they don’t need to see this list) , Indonesian, Filipino, Brazilian, etc. A quick Google search should bring one up for your country.

We scrolled to the table, clicked on the arrows on the right of “Visa Requirement” and started reading. We also read the Notes in the red “Visa required” rows as those were the ones stating if our UK visas would help in entry.

Aug 2015: Istanbul, Turkey

Our first choice was easy, we have been fascinated about Turkey for such a long time. Plus we wanted to meet a close family member who lives in India so what better place to go to than a city that’s half in Europe (UK’s still in Europe) and half in Asia!

Entry process: Indian passport holders who have long term US / UK / Schengen / Australia / Canada visas can get an e-Visa made for 30 days from evisa.gov.tr Immigration just asked for Passport & a printout of the e-Visa.

Entry cost: $43 per person

Our experience: Fantastic. Istanbul is a foodie paradise, the best city for food we have been to (sorry Paris). We ate different types of Kebabs for 7 days straight only repeating our favourite kebab on the very last day ( Sehzade Erzurum Cag Kebabi for those interested). The mosques were so spiritual & beautiful, the palace & museums were chock full of interesting exhibits, the weather was a bit too sunny & meeting family after years. It was the perfect holiday!

Our Snapshots

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Such delicious, wow

Feb 2016: Gibraltar

Grey February weather in Britain had us down and reminiscing about our 2015 Spain trip. On our read through of the list, we saw an entire section for British Overseas Territories (something we didn’t know still existed). A map search later, we saw that Gibraltar was right on the southern tip of Spain and did not need any visas for UK visa holders. Done and done.

Entry process: Passports with a valid long term UK visa can enter Gibraltar without restriction. We were asked of our plans in Gibraltar and date of return at immigration. The stamp came down quick on hearing our stay was at the Rock hotel (highly recommended).

Entry cost: Free

Our experience (Gibraltar blogpost): Much more fun than expected. We went in expecting good weather & good food, both were fully satisfied. What was unexpected was our first caving experience at Lower St. Michael caves which made the entire trip worth it. It was surreal and one of the top travel experiences of our lives & we have been raving about Gibraltar since (but no one believes us 😦 ). Oh we also saw 30+ dolphins.

Our Snapshots

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Caving in Lower St. Michaels cave, an unforgettable experience

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The Rock of Gibraltar from Europa point

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Couple of dolphins from the tour

May 2016: Isle of Arran, Scotland

This is cheating but there’s a reason for including this entry. We were planning to break our visa drought and visit Switzerland + Italy but Yoda’s passport got stolen meaning no international travel for the next 4 months #immigrantlife. We thankfully had only flight tickets pre-booked so we swapped out our trip with a trip to the Isle of Arran in Scotland. We’re glad we did, even within Scotland, Arran was a gem of a place to spend 4 days. Extremely gorgeous landscapes coupled well with a surprisingly nice coastline and weather.

In short, make sure you make trips within your own country to find gems as good or even better than going elsewhere.

We also went to Yorkshire & Derbyshire for a long weekend. Dalek did a 5-week trip exploring Scotland and the Lake District that’s currently being blogged.

Nov 2016: Philippines

Philippines was a treat for us long in the making. Since we started travel blogging / Instagram, some of the most sparklingly(?) beautiful images being served up were from the Philippines, we knew we had to visit. We booked our flight tickets in the summer for a November trip on reading the words “14-day visa free”. As a bonus, we also got a friend who lives in Singapore to travel with us in PH for a while. 🙂

Entry process: Super-easy, no lines for foreign passport holders when we arrived in Manila and just asked us how long we’d be staying.

Entry cost: Free

Our experience (Palawan blogpost): The places we saw in real life were somehow even better than the pictures. What a spectacularly beautiful country! We could’ve easily spent the entire week in the island of Palawan, it’s a large area to cover with so much to see. We also spent a day in Bohol & 2 days in Cebu.

Our Snapshots

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Pristine 7 Commando Beach near El Nido

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Kayaking in the Small Lagoon

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Sabang underground river

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Picturesque Honda Bay near Puerto Princesa

© 2016 Beyond Our Horizons

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