Advice Archives - foXnoMad

Category: Advice

How To Stay In Shape Mentally And Physically During Lockdown

edinburgh window

Maintaining an exercise routine can be difficult during normal times and you may have noticed any workout momentum you did have waning as quarantine goes on. I recently spoke with RT Training & Performance Center gym owner and trainer Christos Monastiriotis about how to keep your body and mind engaged during quarantine on the latest episode of the foXnoMad Podcast.

In many ways working out while you’re limited to home is a lot like staying in shape when traveling. You need both motivation and creativity to keep up with good hotel room workouts so most of Christos’ advice is applicable to frequent travelers. From nutrition to online personal training (offered at RT Training & Performance Center) plus the often neglected mental component, it’s an enlightening conversation you can listen to right here.

What Happens When You Say “Yes” To Every Scam In India, Again

About two years ago during my 14th, 18th… I-can’t-keep-count-of trip to India – I got an idea. India, like computer code, can be daunting when you first see it but once you understand how it works it becomes a playground. I’ve seen scams attempts of all types in India so eventually decided to have fun with scammers who approached to find out what would happen if you said yes to every scam in India?

Earlier this year, I asked the question again in New Delhi and said “yes” to every scam attempt I was approached with. This time around, I discovered some updated scams plus more confrontational scammers you can see in the video above. Once you know what to look out for and how to handle these scammers your trip will go a lot smoother – but in case you don’t, I’ll show you what happens.

How To Find A Reputable Driver In India

Finding a reliable driver for your visit to India can be challenging since operators online are as difficult to navigate as most Indian roads. Getting around India often requires the use of a car so you want a driver that’s not only knowledgeable but also understands what travelers are looking during their trip.

To make things easy on yourself, there’s one driver in India who should be the first person to contact: Budhiman Rawat. Here’s why.

Drivers In India

There are a few important things to consider when hiring a driver in India besides knowing the roads. Most drivers will know how to get around however many try to cut corners to shave time off trips. (The more people they can transport the more money they’ll earn.) This incentive to be quick means a lot of drivers can be out of touch with the travelers they’re driving, particularly if those travelers aren’t Indian. It also means you might miss lesser known stops along the way like this cave where The Dark Knight Rises was filmed.

budhiman india driver

Due to sheer numbers, drivers will often be accustomed to Indian clients for whom the journey isn’t part of the trip. Indian clients are also accustomed to the food so they don’t usually have to be as picky about rest stops. Chats with the driver are usually non-existent.

Visitors In India

As a visitor aside from putting your life in the hands of a driver, they’re often part of your travel experience as well. A local to locals where class dynamics don’t encourage conversation is one thing but as a visitor, your driver is a local you’ll be spending a lot of time in an SUV with.

budhiman india car driver

English is important but so is personality and a local driver who understands the variations in this dynamic. Budhiman is a driver who puts together all of these intangible elements leaving everyone he’s driven with nothing but high praise and recommendation.

Why Everyone Loves Budhi

Budhiman (Budhi for short) is from Damak, Nepal. 20 years ago he made his way to India, first getting jobs as a bus cleaner, then kitchen cook, eventually landing a gig as a local driver in New Delhi. He’s been the main driver for Wandering Earl Tours for the past decade, where I first met him.

Through a combination of a warm personality, wise business savvy, and experience, Budhi has developed his own driving services company. Budhi is personable, always drivers the under the speed limits, and knows the best (i.e. cleanest) places to stop and eat.

Greeting you with a smile every time isn’t something you’ll find on an online review but Budhi truly makes you feel like a passenger rather than cargo being dropped off from one place to another. The van journeys become a pleasant, unexpected part of your trip. You can get in touch with Budhiman through his Facebook page or Wandering Earl Tours (request him by name) for travel anywhere across India.

How To Handle Visa Overstays And Issues Due To Coronavirus Travel Restrictions

airport terminal

Please note the situation is changing daily and the information below may be out of date by the time you’re reading it. Because of the quickly developing situation, I’ve included advice and a template you can send to the relevant embassies to get more information.

Closing borders has left people stranded worldwide and many of you, on tourist or other visas, wondering what will happen once travel is permitted again. You might be in a situation where your visa in a foreign country is or has already expired. Below is a template you can use to send to the appropriate embassies.

Template To Send Embassies

Subject: Question – Overstaying Because of COVID-19

Good afternoon,

I’m would like to know the correct procedure for travelers who will be overstaying their visas in (COUNTRY) due to travel restrictions, flight cancellations, and border closings related to COVID-19.

What must be done on our side to make sure we are following the rules in these extreme circumstances?

I would really appreciate if you could point me in the right direction as soon as possible.

Thank you in advance.

This template was highly successful in getting prompt replies from many embassies. Additionally, many nations have already posted or replied back to me with their current procedures. Please be sure to verify anything posted below, it is posted only for informational purposes.

European Union (EU)

In Chapter V Article 33 of the EU Visa Code regarding Extensions, the following is applicable:

The period of validity and/or the duration of stay of an issued visa shall be extended where the competent authority of a Member State considers that a visa holder has provided proof of force majeure or humanitarian reasons preventing him from leaving the territory of the Member States before the expiry of the period of validity of or the duration of stay authorised by the visa. Such an extension shall be granted free of charge.

The global pandemic falls under force majeure and visa extension fees have been waived. Get in touch with the embassy of the EU/Schengen country you are currently in to apply for an extension if you are worried about overstaying. Currently, 90 extensions are being issued in most cases for Schengen tourist visas.

buckingham palace

United Kingdom (UK)

The latest information can be found here.

If you’re in the UK and your leave expires between 24 January 2020 and 31 May 2020

Your visa will be extended to 31 May 2020 if you cannot leave the UK because of travel restrictions or self-isolation related to coronavirus (COVID-19).

You must contact the Coronavirus Immigration Team (CIT) to update your records if your visa is expiring.

You should provide:

  • your full name (include any middle names)
  • date of birth (dd/mm/yyyy)
  • nationality
  • your previous visa reference number
  • why you can’t go back to your home country, for example if the border has closed

We’ll let you know when your request is received and when your visa has been extended.

u.s. capitol building

United States (US)

Tourist Visas:

Note that the expiration date on a U.S. visa does not determine how long one can be in the United States.  The way to confirm one’s required departure date is here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home.

Those who need to extend their stay must apply with USCIS.  Their website is here:  https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay.

Non-Tourist Visas:

Please refer to ECA communication dated February 7, 2020, for guidance, specifically the section on exchange visitors currently inside the United States. Sponsors and their exchange visitors are also encouraged to review the following USCIS website detailing special situations for extensions and change of visa status, including those individuals subject to INA 212(e): Two-Year Home Country Physical Presence Requirement. Go to: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/special-situations and https://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/extend-your-stay.

China

Latest updates here.

The National Immigration Administration has rolled out special measures to facilitate foreigners’ stay in China as well as their arrivals and departures amid the battle against the COVID-19 outbreak.

With no need of a separate application, foreigners in China will have their stay or residence permits extended automatically for two months during the epidemic period, Liu Haitao, an official with the administration, said on March 1 at a news conference in Beijing.

Immigration offices nationwide will issue urgent exit and entry permits within 24 fours for those coming to China for anti-COVID-19 missions, including medical assistance, drug development and academic exchanges, Liu said.

They could also apply for a special visa at Chinese ports of entry if their journey is made on too short a notice, he added.

Like Chinese citizens, foreign residents in China can file applications online and have documents delivered to their homes after the issuance, Liu said.

Australia

The latest can be found here.

I have a Visitor visa or Electronic Travel Authority (ETA)

International tourists should return to their home country as quickly as possible, particularly those without family support.

If you cannot depart Australia as planned, check your permitted stay period, visa expiry date and visa conditions to make sure you remain lawful in Australia.

You can check your visa details in VEVO, the myVEVO app, in your visa grant letter or your ImmiAccount. You can check your ETA expiry and conditions through our Check an ETA service.

Under Australian migration law, it is not possible to extend a visitor visa or ETA. You must apply for a new visa before your current visa expires. You can apply to remain in Australia as a visitor unless you are eligible to workstudy or join family in Australia.

When you apply for a new visa, you may be granted a bridging visa that will keep you lawful in Australia until a decision is made on your visa application.

If your visa has already expired, see don’t hold a visa.

South Africa

The latest announcements can be found here.

Any foreign national who is already present in the Republic and originates from a country which is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or who, in order to reach such destination of origin needs to transit a country which is affected by COVID-19, and whose temporary residence visa is due to expire or has already expired, will be allowed to re-apply for such a visa provided they meet all the prescribed requirements. Visas valid until 31 July 2020 may be issued to such applicants.

Any foreign national who originates from a country which is affected by the COVID-19 outbreak or who, in order to reach such a destination of origin needs to transit a country which is affected by the COVID-19, and who is the holder of a temporary visa which expired since 01 December 2019 and those which will be expiring up to 31 March 2020 will be allowed to re-apply for such a visa without the need to first obtain FORM 20 (Authorisation for an illegal foreigner to remain in the country pending an application for status)

These are temporary measures and is applicable until further notice.

Thailand

The latest information can be found here. New rules and restrictions for all travelers as of March 22nd.

There is a provision (clause 2.28) in the current Immigration Order 327/2557 concerning the extension of stays that allows immigration to give 30-day extension “based on embassy request”. If you have exhausted all possible extensions of your entry stamp, you may use this embassy letter to extend your stay in Thailand due to travel restrictions in your country or due to the cancellation of the flight. This extension is applicable to any type of entry stamp (visa on arrival, visa exemption, tourist visa or non-immigrant visa). You need to contact your embassy in Thailand if they are able to issue the letter. It is also good to note that some immigration offices may issue the extension without the embassy letter as long as you are able to show proof of cancellation of your flight.

Note: All nationalities currently holding a 60-day tourist visa can still obtain a 30-day visa extension just like before. All nationalities under the visa exemption scheme currently holding 30-day entry stamp are still able to extend for 30 days at the local immigration office, just like before.

Taiwan

The latest announcement:

Automatic 30-day extension for foreigners entering Taiwan on or before March 21 with visa waiver, visitor visa, or landing visa (no application is required) (overstayers excepted).

Mexico

The latest here.

The period of stay allowed will not be more than 180 days, at the end of which you must leave the country by any means because said immigration status does not allow you extend the period of stay in the country or change the condition of stay. Due to the foregoing, and because the Mexican immigration authority has not restricted departures from the country, it must foresee their departure from national territory by another means of transportation available or other than by air in the event of cancellation of the service. It will also be convenient to contact your embassy or consular representation in Mexico in order to obtain the corresponding assistance for your return. Greetings.

Turkey

There has been no general announcement made, so far it seems decisions are being made on a country to country basis. Here’s the latest for U.S. citizens. The current recommendation being made is:

The Government of Turkey announced that due to COVID-19, they are extending visa validity for tourists in Turkey, who cannot leave due to international flight suspension.

That said, we have been sending information on existing flights. Please consider taking a limited commercial option – such as a flight to Doha, Qatar, on Qatar airways, which has connection options to the United States. As long as you purchase a ticket with connections to the United States as your ultimate destination, you will be allowed to board your flight from Istanbul.

We recommend you drive to Istanbul, and take existing flight options out, before commercial flight options disappear.

Turkey (cont.) – Information For Australians

If you are not already, we highly recommend that you monitor the Australian Embassy in Turkey’sFacebook page, Twitter (@AusAmbTurkey) and webpage. For urgent consular assistance, please call our 24 hour Emergency Call Centre in Australia on +61 2 6261 3305.

Visas

We acknowledge that it’s difficult to get the correct advice on extending your visa in Turkey. At this stage, we have not been informed that Turkey will be automatically extending its visas for foreign citizens still in the country as a result of COVID-19. To get an extension, you should try to make contact with local authorities as your first point of call. If you’re still not sure who to contact or how to get an extension, we recommend that you contact the Australian Embassy in Turkey by email on [email protected].

You can also subscribe to updates from Smartraveller for changes to the situation in Turkey.

Jamaica

Visa extension applications are only being accepted by appointment – the best contact email address to use is: [email protected]

Updates Incoming

This page will be updated as new information comes in but with this being a developing, global crisis it won’t be possible to post all the information here. Check through to the links however for more information, I’ll be sure to keep adding and updating those as frequently as possible.

Should You Cancel Your Travel Plans Because Of Coronavirus?

The travel restrictions, bans, and other disruptions are changing rapidly – since I uploaded the video above a number of new safety measures have been put into place. It’s best to check your local government updates as well as news about your destination for the latest developments.

Here’s how to handle your travel plans over the next 45 days and what to do about planned travel soon after that.

What If You Have Travel Plans Confirmed?

A lot depends on where you’re going, how long, for what reasons (e.g. recreational) as well as whether or not you fall into any of the high-risk groups for a severe case of coronavirus (COVID-19). Additionally, if you have regular contact with anyone in the high-risk groups, you should take this into account as well.

london train station

The information here isn’t about the medial implications of traveling (the World Health Organization has a good primer) but how to handle your travel plans. If you have international travel planned between now and April 15th for recreational purposes all things considered, you should probably cancel or delay your trip.

Many international and domestic corona-related restrictions in place right now are set to be reevaluated over the next 2-4 weeks. Given the uncertainly plus widespread cancellation of many events, the sooner you move to cancel the better.

How To Handle A Cancellation

Flights purchased through a booking engine are the first place to begin. You’ll want to process a refund there first – make sure you’re detailed as to why you’re not flying (e.g. more than just saying “corona”) – and see if you can get a refund or voucher for future travel. Additionally, you may want to get in touch with the airline directly as well as your travel insurance provider for other options.

What About Those Great Travel Deals? (Next 45 Days)

Most travel insurers are no longer covering corona-related claims after early March, so it’s a massive risk you’ll lose money, arrive to a lock down, or otherwise have your vacation plans vaporize. Attempting international travel plans before the end of April is likely not to go smoothly, so plan any trips for after the next 45 days or so (May 15th) to be safe.

For those of you with planned (i.e. booked) travel between April 15th and May 15th, it’s best to keep those plans as the middle of April is when a major reassessment but governments and the travel industry is likely. We’ll all have a better idea of what the summer travel seasons looks like then, with hopefully better news.

What Is It Like Traveling In Pakistan?

The first thing you think of when it comes to Pakistan probably isn’t tourism but recently developments have tripled visitors since 2018. It’s not now and won’t be mainstream any time soon which makes it a very interesting place to visit for a certain type of traveler.

Tourism Infrastructure

Pakistan has a fairly developed tourism infrastructure. It’s easy and inexpensive to fly within the country and the buses are the most luxurious I’ve come across anywhere. There’s a solid middle-tier of hotels, Uber (and local Careem) ride sharing, plus a variety of food from street vendors to hipster burger joints.

karachi burns road

Like a lot of the country, there’s a broad blend across the tourism infrastructure. It’s not so developed that anyone can just pop in and hop a bus from Islamabad to Lahore. For travelers with a bit of experience who don’t mind a few rough edges in their journeys it will only add to the charm.

What Would You See? Do?

As the 33rd largest country in the world, the long shape of Pakistan makes it home to a variety of geographical zones. The second highest mountain, K2, can be found in the Karakoram mountain range in the north. Geographical diversity often means cultural diversity, with Tajikistan, China, and Afghanistan’s influences in the mountains, Punjab on the eastern border, with Karachi’s hot blend of spice and sea.

pakistan curries

In addition to the natural wonders, there are historical sites like Lahore Fort built half a millennia ago. And across all of it, there are hardly any tourists visiting. For adventurous travelers, that’s a plus; less experienced tourists might find that off-putting. It’s really the story of visiting Pakistan right now.

Safety Elephant In The Room

We know the reason few people are visiting – concerns about safety. In 2014, a terrorist attack on a military school prompted the government (with mass public support) to begin a campaign against terrorism. The following two years resulted in the deaths of 4,000 terrorists and since then, terrorism-related deaths have decreased dramatically.

karachi pakistan

“From 12,000 deaths in 2009 (32 per day), the number declined by 87 percent by 2017 and continues to do so. In 2019, fewer than 300 people were killed in terrorist attacks nationwide.” – Vice

Where that leaves Pakistan today is on the cusp. Having eliminated, so far, one of the primary deterrents for people to consider Pakistan a tourist destination, the first wave of travel first adopters is arriving. Backpackers, adventurers, and us blogger types are enjoying Pakistan on the cusp.

Pakistan’s reputation hasn’t recovered nor the infrastructure developed enough to attract casual visitors. On the flip side, it’s got more than enough in place to make it a unique, inexpensive, and relatively easy place to visit for someone with travel experience and inclination.

It’s too soon to tell if Pakistan will continue to improve the areas important for tourism – security, infrastructure, reputation. At this moment however if what you’ve read so far has you very curious, Pakistan might be a good candidate for your next destination.

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