The next time you want to make some interesting conversation,casually drop the word visa. You'd be surprised how everyone has a funny story associated with it. While some recount meeting memorable characters at embassies, others talk about the stringent checks you go through for the US, UK and Australian visas that often make you feel like you're on Interpol's 'Most Wanted' list.
I too have experienced the bizarre. While given a clean chit to visit the UK because dad chose not to accompany my mom and I (the officer felt we would not immigrate without him), the Australian embassy asked my father for a 'No Objection Certificate' to ensure that my mom wasn't trying to kidnap me!
But if the tedious visa rounds aren't up your alley, don't worry. There are quite a few destinations that allow visa free, on arrival and combo travel to help you on your globetrotting mission.
"A visa is mandatory for most countries. However, Indians do get visa on arrival facility in countries like Mauritius, Kenya, Jordan, Thailand and Indonesia," says Neelu Singh, COO of travel portal Ezeego1.com, adding that this year has seen an increase in the demand for a lot of destinations in Europe like Finland, Russia, Ireland, Italy, Austria, Scandinavia and Spain.
Karan Anand, head relationships, Cox & Kings Ltd, agrees, "Spain is one destination that's growing in popularity, followed by Turkey. However, during this season, Europe continues to be the all time favourite for Indians. Many of them also travel to the Far East and Dubai."
And a relaxation of visa norms has seen an increase in tourists to these hassle-free destinations. Statistics from the Hong Kong Tourism Board reveal that there has been a 35 per cent increase in tourists in the last year. And even Wales Tourism Board has noted a rise in tourism after people realised they could visit this haven after getting their UK visa done. So don't wait. Pack and leave.
Bermuda: Indian nationals who reside in the USA, the EU or Canada, or have a visa to enter the USA, the EU or Canada, do not need a visa for a stay of up to 21 days.
Costa Rica: Indian nationals who reside in the USA, the EU or Canada, or have a visa to enter the USA, the EU or Canada, do not need a visa for for a stay of up to 30 days.
Dubai: You need someone to sponsor you and get you a visa. Emirates airlines now offers visa facilities for those flying the airline.
Andorra: A schengen visa is required to travel to Andorra, which is located between Spain and France. An entry visa for either of these countries is a must.
Puerto Rico: If arriving directly from the US, Alaska, Guam, Hawaii or US Virgin Islands, no entry are documents required.
Turkey: Offers visa on arrival if you have an existing US, UK or Schengen visa.
Schengen: Getting this visa gives you access to 25 countries of the EU such as Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Scotland and Wales: A UK visa is enough to get you entry to both destinations.
Good to go
Nepal: No visa is required for citizens of India.
Macau, Hong Kong and Bhutan: A tourist visa is not required for a stay up to 14 days. But Bhutan does need a visitor's permit.
Tonga, Nauru: A tourist visa is not required for a stay up to 30 days.
Seychelles: You need a visitor's permit. It is valid for four weeks.
Cook Islands: A tourist visa isn't required for a stay up to 31 days.
Fiji: A tourist visa is not needed for a stay up to 120 days.
Jordan: Offers visa on arrival in Amman.
Iran: Indian nationals can get a one week visa on arrival for tourism at the Imam Khomeini (RA), Mehrabad, Mashhad, Shiraz, and Tabriz Airports.
Kenya: The visa can be obtained at the port of entry. But a yellow fever vaccination certificate is needed.
Mauritius: Indians are issued a tourist visa for 60 days at the airport.
Ethiopia, Laos and Indonesia: Nationals of India can obtain a tourist visa on arrival for a maximum stay of 30 days.
Maldives: A visa can be obtained on arrival for free for 30 days.
Thailand: A visa can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of 15 days.
Tanzania: A visa can be obtained on arrival for a maximum stay of 90 days.
(Info listed is as mentioned on embassy and travel websites at the time of going to press. Do double check though!)