Sunday, March 28, 2010

Metro North from Stamford To New Haven (Mar 28, 2010)

Sub Header – Tips to apply for a Schengen Visa

It's been a long break from my blog writing days the previous year, and I really want to keep up with this habit. It gets tough sometimes as you are having so much fun at a certain place and becomes harder and harder to catch up with everything as the months go by.

I was contemplating writing about my last few trips – Brazil (half of it), Puerto Rico, San Fransisco and New Orleans, but I will do so only if I get the time, which pretty much means – forget it.

Next up for me is Europe with a short trip to Columbus in between. This will be my first trip with someone else – and I am pretty excited – it will be my brother, and I know it will be a fun fun trip.

I have my visa ready, and also most of my trip is planned, along with the tickets for the airline.

Let me get started with a few tips for the Schengen visa application especially if you are planning your trip yourself. This is one of the toughest part of the Euro Trip. The documentation needed is quite extensive.

Here they are:

Airline Round Trip ticket – American Airlines is one of the few airlines which has an option to hold tickets. This comes in handy when you need to have a reservation in your name, but not actually pay for it. Try this feature out if you need to hold a reservation or booking. On the AA site after you have selected your trip, along with a purchase option there is also an Hold option which will keep your ticket on hold for a day which is cool for visa purposes.

Also, the french consulate (which I went to) and also all european consulates need hotel bookings. My suggestion would be to book on sites like, which will allow you to cancel a day or two before your actual stay for no fee. This will guarantee you reservations when you go for the visa interview.

Health insurance is also something which is needed at the consulate for the Schengen visa. Search around for a few providers. Atlas has an insurance for approximately 30 days in europe for around 25USD which is pretty cheap. The steps are easy to follow, and once done log into your account and print out the 'Visa Letter' format which will be avaliable under your account.

Print out a itinerary, and for me it was a simple word document stating where I would be on all days of my trip. This again can be tentative and no one asks for train or air reservations so far as you have hotel reservations. My trip involved more train travel than hotel reservations so that I reduce the bookings which I need to show.

Finally the consulate where you have to apply to is either the country you will be spending the most time in, or if not sure, the country where you will land. I was landing in Barcelona, Spain and the most part of my trip would be spent in France, so I went to the French consulate.

The only document which you need to show is the train or air or bus ticket of you crossing the border. For example my itinerary said that I would be going from barcelona to Toulouse which would be my first city in France, and the lady at the consulate asked me if I had any ticket for it.

This is quite easy. France has their train site: on which you can also hold tickets. I booked a ticket from Barcelona to Toulouse without actually paying for it and viola – I had a booking for that too.

I will try to give info on booking train tickets in Europe as I post my later blogs, but there is a site called seat61 which is an awesome resource for help on booking European trains.

If you are a planner and you need to know exact schedules –, the german site is the best resource. Me personally loved this, and I saved shit loads of money on my train tickets, and did not feel the need to either buy a RailPass, or buy my tickets at the highly expensive RailEurope.

Finally the visa application which can be downloaded from individaul consulate sites asks for the validity of visa. My trip was for 29 days, so I said 90 days and checked the multiple entry option. It is highly likely that you will be asked to change this to 29 days single entry (at least the first time you apply), but if you are thorough with your documentatyion you could end up with a 90 day multiple entry visa, like I did, or even a 180 day multi entry visa like my brother (Damn him...I provided him all the documentation and he got a longer duration).

Hope this helps for planning your Europe Trip visa, and as always I encourage comments or questions.

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