Crossing borders need not be a stressful experience. Here are some handy instructions to help you on your way:
Research is the key. Make sure you know the following things about the country you are trying to enter.
1. What are the visa requirements, Can you get one? Do you need one? You will need to check for each country you are hoping to visit. For some countries the visa will need to be organised in advance, in some cases months ahead. The last thing you want is to hitch-hike to a border and be refused entry. Its a long way back on the road you came.
2. After checking if you can purchase the visa on the border. Be prepared that sometimes you will have to declare the amount of money that you have, in some cases even having to withdraw a specific amount of money with which to enter the country with.
3. It is always better to pay in the currency of the country you are entering. If this is impossible always have a supply of dollars, ideally in small notes as many corrupt border guards will simply refuse to give change.
4. If you are planning to hitch-hike and cross the border on foot: CHECK before if this is possible.
5. Make sure to give yourself time. Hitch-hiking to borders can be a tough process, the traffic flow will be less and crossing borders is often a lengthy process if a particularly belligerent border guard has a bad day. So leave earlier the day that you are planning to cross a border, simple!
6. If you have done your research and are anticipating problems at the border crossing or buying the visa. Be prepared. If you are travelling with a partner make sure you do not give contradictory information, either about the intention of your visit, where you have visited or where you are planning to visit. It will only result in more trouble than it is worth.
7. If confronted with a jobs-worth. Do not get angry, it is very important not to give them a reason to treat you badly. Normally a bored customs officer only wants to bask in your discomfort and make a little money. Our rule of thumb is to pay a bribe if the money is an insignificant amount of money, but to sit it out if they are looking for a fortune, normally you can beat them down. If they are particularly stubborn, pay the bribe with as much contempt as one can muster and be done with it.
8. If you are hitch-hiking head for the most popular border crossing, ideally on international routes. It is a lot easier to catch a ride from trucks that are moving along the main routes.
9. Normally when you arrive at the border crossing you are required to fill in a small visa application form. Where it asks for the address of the place you will be staying, simply open up your guidebook, find an address in the capital city and a credible name of a hotel/hostel, and pop it in the gap. A lot less hassle, trust us! They will never check if you are actually going to stay there or not.
10. Make sure you know how long you intend to stay in the country, and double-check the length of the visa when you purchase it. Overstaying a visa can be both expensive and troublesome, so try and avoid it.
written by: Jon