Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

My Journey to Every Country in the World

My Journey to Every Country in the World

Old Aug 23, 15, 1:25 pm
  #361  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Programs: DL Diamond, HH Diamond, Hyatt Diamond, Marriott Gold, Turkish Gold, Copa Platinum, airberlin Gold
Posts: 77
Originally Posted by ironmanjt View Post
I've been shot down twice now by Turkmenistan - the Government refuses to issue the Letter of Invitation. Not sure who I upset and how. Will try again in a few months...ugh!

Angola was a giant pain, pretty sure it took Hauteboy and I at least a dozen visits to the embassy before they would finally issue it.

18 to go here, soon to be 14 after an upcoming trip to Chad/CAR/Yemen/Mongolia. Then down to 11 after Cuba/Algeria/Bahamas in November.
Hey iron - I had the exact same problem with the Turkmenistan LoI! Who are you using?

I tried twice via Advantour, they used a local partner, Owadan, and I got shot down both times. Really sucked cuz I didn't expect that and had bought non-ref air tickets. Only plus was, Advantour didn't charge me in advance. Absolutely no explanation, Advantour told me this was 'normal.'

So I went via Dag Syyahat instead, and they got one, no problem, telling me rejections were 'not normal'; they did charge me in advance, I think it was 60 bucks or so, which was part of the overall package they offered (but they'd have kept this amount if I'd been rejected).

The only thing I changed between the fails and the success, was making my job title more comprehensible (I'm in IT and they keep changing our titles to stuff no one can make sense of). I simplified to 'software engineer'
And the dates: originally I was going in late May 2014, so after all the rejections, tried for early September instead via Dag.


So what I concluded from all this is either
1) some agencies are better connected than others (I got the same sense when applying for the Sudan and Eritrea) visas
2) They limit the number of tourist visas for a given period and when the max is reached, you're SOL.
3) They're just super arbitrary.

Interesting on Angola. Guess my experience was fairly standard. I'm just relieved they issued it. There were several rounds of 'do this or we have to send your passport back with no visa.'

CAR! Went to Dzangha-Sangha there but it can be tricky to get to. Took us days crossing Cameroon with unseasonably late rains.

Interesting combo of places overall o that itinerary- in particular, good luck with Yemen. Sana'a old town is amazing but I don't know the current visa or security situation - the DC embassy issued my Yemeni visa in 2013 np, but told my friend two weeks later they no longer had authority to issue tourist visas. He eventually got one on entry via the Socotra Eco-Tour folks.
If you do go around the towns, the military will love you chewing qat - really broke the ice with them. "An American! Chewing our leaves! Come and look, other soldiers!" sort of response.
Tychian is offline  
Old Aug 23, 15, 1:34 pm
  #362  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Programs: DL Diamond, HH Diamond, Hyatt Diamond, Marriott Gold, Turkish Gold, Copa Platinum, airberlin Gold
Posts: 77
Originally Posted by groundops View Post
I just got an Angolan Short Term Visa in 08 days from London Consulate recently. I had all documents in order and asked for an express service which was advertised on website a month or so ago (but now seems to have been removed) for an additional fee. Normal processing time is 15 days but express service is/was 10 days. They said they would try and do it in 08 days and I got mine in 08 days. Turned up on day 08 and was told to go for lunch till Head of Consular Service returned to sign it and hey presto, I had it. Unbelievable. 2.5 trips to Consulate and it was obtained this time.

When I went a few years ago to London Consulate, I was told visas are not available even though I was invited by letter by one of the largest companies in Angola in which Government has a large stake - Consulate claimed the letter was phoney! I hjad to go to Joburg to get it then.

Things are improving at the Angolan Consulates!?
Well - I think it's more that the experience varies based on the embassy/consulate and staff, at least in the US, although maybe it's improved in the sense of sometimes actually issuing a visa . Persistence seemed to matter for you, me, haute and iron for sure...
Tychian is offline  
Old Aug 23, 15, 3:23 pm
  #363  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Austin, TX -- AA PLT 2.8MM+ (life PLT); IHG PLT Ambassador; UA Gold
Posts: 5,439
Originally Posted by Tychian View Post
CAR! Went to Dzangha-Sangha there but it can be tricky to get to. Took us days crossing Cameroon with unseasonably late rains.

Interesting combo of places overall o that itinerary- in particular, good luck with Yemen. Sana'a old town is amazing but I don't know the current visa or security situation - the DC embassy issued my Yemeni visa in 2013 np, but told my friend two weeks later they no longer had authority to issue tourist visas. He eventually got one on entry via the Socotra Eco-Tour folks.
If you do go around the towns, the military will love you chewing qat - really broke the ice with them. "An American! Chewing our leaves! Come and look, other soldiers!" sort of response.
We were supposed to go to Sangha Lodge but they apparently lost email access for a few weeks. We were going to charter a flight from Yaounde but after not hearing from them, we had to make backup plans. Finally heard back from them but we'd already changed our plans to fly DLA-BGF instead.

The quote I got from one company for the Libya visa is 350EUR so pretty crazy. Haven't heard back from other tour companies though. I should have gone last January (2014) instead of Algeria.
hauteboy is offline  
Old Aug 23, 15, 4:23 pm
  #364  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Up in the Air
Programs: AC/EK
Posts: 248
Originally Posted by BuildingMyBento View Post
Anyone visit St. Pierre et Miquelon (with anecdote to match)?
I was there at the end of June. I used Air Canada points to get to St. John's, Newfoundland, then flew in for a couple nights on Air St. Pierre. When I arrived it was pissing down rain but within 2 minutes of setting out from the airport to walk into town a friendly guy picked me up - he even toured me around and showed me the best bars.

Everything is very walkable and the tourism office is helpful. I did a really nice hike (there are no trees and the island is so small you'd have to be an idiot to get lost) but I was extremely lucky with the weather.

I'll try to do a blog post on it at some point and look up the names of my favourite restaurants but it's definitely a cool place if you're lucky enough to get good weather.
Baldpacker is offline  
Old Aug 24, 15, 1:39 am
  #365  
 
Join Date: Feb 2015
Programs: DL Diamond, HH Diamond, Hyatt Diamond, Marriott Gold, Turkish Gold, Copa Platinum, airberlin Gold
Posts: 77
Originally Posted by hauteboy View Post
We were supposed to go to Sangha Lodge but they apparently lost email access for a few weeks. We were going to charter a flight from Yaounde but after not hearing from them, we had to make backup plans. Finally heard back from them but we'd already changed our plans to fly DLA-BGF instead.

The quote I got from one company for the Libya visa is 350EUR so pretty crazy. Haven't heard back from other tour companies though. I should have gone last January (2014) instead of Algeria.
Their email access is really spotty. I get the very occasional update from them - during the major unrest they had a few issues but much less than other areas. Land travel to there is difficult; we took land (including a very surreal stuck-in-the-mud experience with loggin trucks and a near-riot by locals) then a boat up the Sangha river. Very cool, tho on the return the boat 'driver' had gotten drunk on palm wine waiting for us, and wound up detained at the CAR border. The authorities thought it was just fine for his 12-yr-old son to take the boat the rest of the way to Cameroon...in fact, they made him do so. Unusual approach to things for sure.

Yeah. I feel the same way about Libya. At this stage I'd content myself to dart across the border with a land crossing, but given it's desert all around, I doubt that's practical. Rue missing the 2013 opportunity.
Tychian is offline  
Old Aug 24, 15, 3:54 am
  #366  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: OSL
Programs: SK Diamond, LH SEN, KL Ivory, AY Basic, OZ silver
Posts: 1,096
This topic is very inspirational to read. My goal is 'secretly' the same, although I do have some practicalities on my way (being Dutch and living in Norway being one of them). Managed to visit all European countries except Belarus now. Plus a few dozen in mostly Asia and the Americas. I use the list of UN states as leading here ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states ), making 195 states nowadays and 11 additional territories. Considering adding de-facto independent dependencies (Greenland, Faroer, Gibraltar, Channel Island, etc) as a special category, although it would make the list about 100 countries longer.

Anyway, please keep writing and reporting, it's a very inspirational read!
UltraRant is offline  
Old Aug 25, 15, 11:20 am
  #367  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: DCA, HNL, SYD
Programs: UA 1K 2MM, AA EXP, DL Diamond, AS MVP75, AmEx Cent, Misc Hotel Bling, Moms love me
Posts: 4,858
Originally Posted by Tychian View Post
Hey iron - I had the exact same problem with the Turkmenistan LoI! Who are you using?
I used travel notoria....they said this was highly unusual. That said, I don't think I'll use them the next time I try, just in case they were the problem.
ironmanjt is offline  
Old Aug 25, 15, 11:23 am
  #368  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: DCA, HNL, SYD
Programs: UA 1K 2MM, AA EXP, DL Diamond, AS MVP75, AmEx Cent, Misc Hotel Bling, Moms love me
Posts: 4,858
Originally Posted by hauteboy View Post
The quote I got from one company for the Libya visa is 350EUR so pretty crazy. Haven't heard back from other tour companies though. I should have gone last January (2014) instead of Algeria.
Wouldn't have had better luck. I think it was January 2013 when I went, and had to shell out the 350 EUR for a business visa. Libya hasn't welcomed tourists at all since the Arab Spring.

I'd be shocked if the government is even functioning enough to issue them now.
ironmanjt is offline  
Old Aug 25, 15, 1:27 pm
  #369  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Austin, TX -- AA PLT 2.8MM+ (life PLT); IHG PLT Ambassador; UA Gold
Posts: 5,439
For Turkmenistan we also got our invitation through Dag Syyahat (via Stantours). We were planning on crossing from Ashgabat to Mashad. However our Iran visa was denied last minute (through key2persia).
hauteboy is offline  
Old Aug 25, 15, 10:19 pm
  #370  
Moderator: Trip Reports
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Dubai
Posts: 3,113
Originally Posted by ironmanjt View Post
I used travel notoria....they said this was highly unusual. That said, I don't think I'll use them the next time I try, just in case they were the problem.
Artem sent my LOI this week with no problems.
DanielW is offline  
Old Aug 25, 15, 11:59 pm
  #371  
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Austin, TX -- AA PLT 2.8MM+ (life PLT); IHG PLT Ambassador; UA Gold
Posts: 5,439
Originally Posted by DanielW View Post
Artem sent my LOI this week with no problems.
Sounds like they don't like ironmanjt then
hauteboy is offline  
Old Aug 26, 15, 3:54 am
  #372  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: DCA, HNL, SYD
Programs: UA 1K 2MM, AA EXP, DL Diamond, AS MVP75, AmEx Cent, Misc Hotel Bling, Moms love me
Posts: 4,858
Originally Posted by hauteboy View Post
Sounds like they don't like ironmanjt then
I'm going to sell you to the highest pygmy bidder in CAR
ironmanjt is offline  
Old Aug 26, 15, 8:38 am
  #373  
Moderator: Trip Reports
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Dubai
Posts: 3,113
Originally Posted by ironmanjt View Post
I'm going to sell you to the highest pygmy bidder in CAR
I heard the witch doctors pay better in Sierre Leone .
DanielW is offline  
Old Aug 27, 15, 12:01 pm
  #374  
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 737
So time for me to gather my thoughts a little bit and basically use this thread for that purpose.

Where I am now:

(haven't clicked some smaller countries like Luxembourg or Singapore but have visited them, or in the case of Singapore, lived in them). edit: and forgot to click Kyrgyzstan

What my time constraints are:
I can probably travel 3 (or almost 4) months per year for the next 3 or 4 years assuming I make progress with my PhD. Of this, 2 months is usually a longer summer trip, 3 weeks for a winter trip and then the rest smaller trips, maybe up to 1 week in length.

Potential trips 2015:
Revisit Tokyo for about a week this fall. I'm quite likely to do this, though might change my destination to Laos. But Laos isn't the kind of place that's good to just spend a week in because even if a week is enough to see important things, it's not enough to get me into the "traveller mindset" needed for places like SE Asia, it's better for large cities etc.

Ukraine. My friends are going to Ukraine and I could tag along with them for a 4/5 day "weekend", though undecide on whether I really want to do this. One problem is that I'd like to work, though a long weekend is excusable, the other reason is that 5 days in Kiev and the environs is fine, but once again Ukraine might be better as part of a bigger trip (like Belarus to Turkey overland). Maybe I can do both. The flights definitely look cheap.

Ethiopia: That's my plan for my Christmas 3 week trip. Maybe visit Somaliland/Djibouti as well, since they're all included in one Lonelyplanet guidebook This trip is pretty sure to happen.

Next summer:
My hope right now is for a Georgia/Armenia/Azerbaijan -> Iran -> Turkmenistan transit visa -> (transit through) Uzbekistan -> Pamir Highway trip. Should be doable in two months, even if it's a little bit rushed, since I've been to Iran before and would basically just go there to recharge and party. Gotta hope Armenia and Azerbaijan aren't at war by then.

Other things to do in the near future:
Maybe try to visit places that I can visit in weekend trips to European countries I haven't visited yet, like Slovenia (maybe skiing), Kosovo, Montenegro, FYROM, Andorra. I reckon a long weekend isn't a huge mistake for each those countries. I can always come back if I really like them I guess. Same goes for Kuwait and Bahrain, the two gulf countries I haven't visited yet. Actually, for those two, I'd probably just go visit them in one weekend. But to be completely honest, there's nothing I want to see in either so it would be "tick the box" travel which I hate. Maybe I could do it as a mileage run?
Places like Lebanon, Tunisia and Algeria could be good 7-10 day trips in the next 2 years. Maybe put them on the list after Tokyo.

Revisit Zimbabwe and try to see the cities (Harare, Bulawayo) when visiting my parents in S. Africa. Alternatively, visit Botswana or Namibia.

In the future:
Two longer (i.e. 2 month or so trips) I'd like to do are 1) Mexico to Panama overland and 2) Belarus to Turkey overland. I guess I have to reserve some summers for them. Trans-Mongolian would be cool as well, as would spending two or so months in India, but those will have to wait.

That should fill my map at a healthy pace while still allowing me to spend enough time to enjoy places (and enjoy the actual act of travel), maintain my FF status, get work done and so on. And quite importantly, this still leaves me time to do my own trips to places I've visited before, which still consists of like more than half of my travel. Then before or after graduation (3 or 4 years) I need to try to do a 6/7 month African overland trip which should really help with making my map more blue
mpkz is offline  
Old Sep 2, 15, 9:27 am
  #375  
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: OSL
Programs: SK Diamond, LH SEN, KL Ivory, AY Basic, OZ silver
Posts: 1,096
@mpkz

Which on line tool did you use to create that map? I used the one on world66, but they apparently did something to block 'myworld66' for all users. Would be interested in a new one!

Also, I have visited most of the countries you list as potential targets for your next travels. Feel free to pm me in case you have any questions.
UltraRant is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread