“Weaker passport” & why traveling should be seen as a privilege and nothing to brag about.

Being born and raised in Europe and Sweden, I was at birth given a golden ticket out to the world, with one of the world’s strongest passports. We do indeed need to apply for a visa to several countries as well, but they are most likely to be granted without too much hassle.

A strong passport automatically gives you the power to travel more. As long as you have the money and time, you can easily visit over 165 countries without having to apply for a visa beforehand. This, while some people might only be able to visit as little as about 30 countries. To set a goal to visit all the countries in the world, would not only be very money, time and energy consuming, but also almost impossible with a “weak passport”.

I asked five travelers from different countries a few questions about how it is for them to travel with a so-called weaker passport. This to find out what struggles they go through when planning a trip, struggles that I do not have to worry about.

Lubnan holds a Pakistani passport and she is eligible to travel to 6 countries without applying for a visa beforehand. She is in addition to that, able to receive an arrival visa or apply for an E-visa for between 16-21 countries.

She also told me that Pakistani passport holders are not able to visit Israel at all, since Pakistan does not recognize Israel as a country. A common reason to not get your visa granted is if your documents are incomplete. Even though she has not herself had any negative experiences so far, she points out that it is a huge worry every time she applies for a visa.

Dedre holds a South African passport, which is not one of the weakest passports out there. She gets to visit around 102 countries, most within Africa and South America, as well as some in Asia, without applying for a visa beforehand. She does anyhow point out that the countries she does need to apply for a visa to visit, can cost a lot of money. As a budget traveler, Dedre often find herself limited to visit some places due to the high costs of just entering the country.

She must also think twice before booking a flight since she needs a transit visa for many countries. Applying for visas mean lots of paperwork and one of the common documents needed is proof of employment and financial stability. Without a stable income you might find yourself not being able to travel.

Dedre writes a blog about her travels on Vagabondjournal and shares content on @vagabond_journals

Ting holds a Philippine passport and states that she can visit up to 63 countries without a visa. She has been rejected visas to the U.S several times and been rejected from the Schengen and South Korea once. She says she finds traveling time-consuming and expensive. And this, even long before a trip (hopefully) starts. She says that a common reason for getting a visa rejection is inability to prove that one has enough money to travel and a good and stable job to come back to.

Ting can be found on Instagram under her handle @tingexplores

A Kenyan passport holder (who wish to be kept anonymous) says he can travel to 72 countries without applying for a visa beforehand and that the East African community has rolled out an EAC passport and Kenyans have been told that this passport might increase the number of countries they can travel to.

He states that he finds it relatively easy to travel to other countries within the African continent, but way harder when he wants to travel anywhere else. He uses the word “relatively” since some African countries have fewer restrictions than others, and that some still comes with complications. He also states that where it is easy for him to travel as a Kenyan, it is just as simple for U.S or EU passport holders and he wishes for Africa to gain something closer to the EU.

When it comes to why the visas may be rejected, it is usually due to lack of information and mix-ups with travel dates, return info, etc. As an individual seeker, it is also much harder then if you seek a visa through an organization, school or job.

Amuneebt holds a Pakistani passport and he states that his passport has been ranked to the worlds second worst passport to travel with, after those from Afghanistan. He has several times been rejected a visa and had to cancel his travel plans.

Even though, he has managed to visit 20 countries so far, traveling solo and met people from all over the world throughout his trips. He often gets a feeling that people with “stronger” passports does indeed take traveling for granted.

Amuneebt also says he often get stopped and questioned at security checks. He needs to apply for a visa in advance for over 90% of the world and tells me that it is often very time consuming and a lot of work. It takes 2-4 weeks at an average, sometimes longer. The average rejection rate is apparently above 60% for visiting western countries. He wants to point out that he does not blame any countries to have sharp regulations and that he also understands that some rejections might be because people just do not fill in their applications correctly.

He says that traveling for him is a big thing and he talks about it like waiting for the result of a test in school, with excitement and nervousness. He sees it as an achievement to be able to enter a new country, while others might “just” have to purchase a ticket, show their passport to enter.

One of the experiences he has had being rejected an entry was when he applied for a visa to Turkey. He had attached a bank statement, a letter from the bank, proof of employment, a document of the purpose of visit, hotel reservations and tickets. He had all his papers in order but still got his passport back after a few weeks stating that he indeed got his visa, but that he was only allowed to visit the country for up to 9 days. This, without receiving any reason why. So, the tickets had to be rebooked and adjusted accordingly. At top of this, he was then denied entry on the flight, as the embassy had forgotten a stamp. The next day he visited the embassy and got the missing stamp he needed within two minutes with an “oh sorry” comment. Due to this, he ones again needed to pay extra for new tickets, for the second time.

Applying for an Australian visa, meant filling in an application with over 60 pages. It also required documents he had never seen in his life and needed to reach out to different authorities to get a hold of them.

Amuneebt shares content from his travels as a solo traveler from Pakistan on Instagram @amuneebt

I do not intend to give anyone bad conscious about the way they travel. I myself would still love to be able to visit all the countries in the world throughout my life. I do however find it interesting that our privileges in life can differ so much, only due to where we are born or our parent’s nationalities. I surely did not appreciate my travels as much 10 years ago as I do nowadays. Getting to know people and learn about other cultures while traveling is something I truly value. And it is through that, amongst other things, that have made me look at traveling in a new way.


One thought on ““Weaker passport” & why traveling should be seen as a privilege and nothing to brag about.”

  1. Its true indeed. Although Indian passport is not so ‘weak’ compared to the the countries mentioned, i still felt worried every time i applied for visa, mainly because of the paper work and the proof of financial status.

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