How To Get A Visa | Backpacking For Beginners #2

Visas are necessary to enter many countries around the world and it can be a confusing concept for the first time traveller. In this article I will explain everything you need to know about how to get a visa for your backpacking adventure!

Types of Visas?

There are many different types of Visas and the type of visa you require, will very much depend on what you are hoping to get out of your trip and what you plan on doing whilst you are there. Here are a few of the more common ones:

Working Holiday Visa:

Allows you to legally work in the country and travel around at the same time. Earn money whilst exploring! Usually only for those between the ages of 18-30 (up to 35 in Canada) and each country has it’s own specific requirements

Tourist Visa:

Allows you a set period of time to travel and explore (usually somewhere around 30 days). You are not permitted to work on this type of visa

Transit Visa:

A visa that allows you to pass through a country. For example: you may need a transit visa when catching a connecting flight, or having a short layover

Student Visa:

A visa that entitles you to study in another country. You may, or may not be allowed to work at the same time, depending on the country in question.

How Do I Know Which Visa I Need?

The easiest way to find out is to jump onto Google and type in: visa for **insert country you are visiting**. This should then give you a link to that country’s official government immigration website and the visas available. It should be fairly obvious as to which visa you need, but if you are struggling there will be a contact number to speak to someone directly. Although there are a lot of helpful visa websites available, the only information that is 100% correct and up to date will be from an official government website.

Confused about getting a visa

How Do I Get The Visa?

For most countries it is now possible to apply online or get the visa on arrival. It is very rare to have to send your passport off, or have to go to a Visa Centre these days. There are one or two countries that do still require this however, so make sure you check it out in advance.

Proof Of Onward Travel

Aeroplane at Perth airport

To be allowed into the country or to purchase a visa on arrival, you are often required to provide proof of onward travel. This can be a flight, or bus journey etc. into another country. This proof may be asked for before you arrive in the country you are visiting. We flew to Bali from Melbourne and had to show proof of return flights before being checked in, in Melbourne.

Backpackers are fickle beings and you may not know exactly where you want to go and the dates that you will be travelling. Part of the beauty of travelling is the ability to be flexible and go with the flow, but how does this work when you need to provide proof of onward travel?

A simple solution is to buy what is known as “A Throw Away Ticket”. This is a cheap flight or bus ticket into the country that you think you will want to travel to next. The idea is that it allows you to get into the first country and as long as you leave before your visa runs out, it doesn’t matter whether you ever take that flight or bus journey. It just gets you in!

Check If You Need A Transit Visa

If you are taking a longhaul flight with connections, there is a chance that you may need a Transit Visa. The easiest way to find out is by going on the website of the airport you will be arriving in and checking there. If for some reason you can’t find the information,  head over to the immigration website (for that country) which will have the information you need.

Visa On Arrival

If you are planning to get a visa on arrival make sure you have cash with you. Many airports will not take debit or credit cards, so having some cash is always a good idea. The best plan is to have some local currency for this, or US Dollars – which seem to be accepted in a lot of countries around the world. Some countries may prefer you to pay in your home currency (Turkey used to require a pristine £10 note for British travellers- don’t know if this is still the case). If you want more information on which currency you need for a visa on arrival, the airport websites should be able to advise you.


It is always handy to have spare passport photos with you, as these may need to be attached to some visas.

passport photos
Just not like these!

Border Crossings By Land

If you are entering a country via a land (on a train or bus), find out in advance if the border crossing you will be going through issues visas on arrival. Not all of them will. You may need a pre-approved visa, or to think of a different route that will take you through a border crossing that issues visas on arrival.


Check the times the crossings are open and plan the journey accordingly. It would suck to be stuck at a border crossing in an unknown place,  waiting for them to open!

Remember When Your Visa Expires!

If you have an electronic visa (which is automatically attached to your passport) try to print out a confirmation of the visa, so you have a physical copy. You may need this but most of the time it will just give you a reminder as to the date you need to leave. It’s easy to forget days and dates when travelling, so having a physical copy can be helpful.


picking a destination blog post

When Does Your Passport Expire?

You need to check when your passport expires, as certain countries require 6 months or more to be left on your passport.


I do hope this has been helpful. If you have any questions please pop them in the comments down below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Happy travels!

Han xxx

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About The Author


Creative unicorn ninja; Travel vlogger/blogger. Green tea enthusiast and lover of dance and art. Currently be found back in England planning the next adventure! Southeast Asia Odyssey coming very soon!

Where I can be found: UK

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