There’s nothing about travel that is entirely hassle-free today. Although a domestic vacation is naturally going to be more “stress free” than an international one (flights are generally shorter, minimal jet lag, no money to exchange), the degree of stress one encounters on an international trip can still greatly vary depending on one’s final destination. Let’s face it, traveling to the United Kingdom is not the same as traveling to Cameroon. Although your passport will be stamped for both countries, for Cameroon you’ll also need a visa, evidence of a yellow fever vaccination, and current immunization records, all just to be admitted.
Travel vaccinations aren’t cheap. Recently I read on a travel board that a woman and her husband spent $900 USD out of pocket on vaccinations for a trip to Africa (Kenya and Tanzania). Before you ask, “well why didn’t insurance cover it?,” most insurance companies don’t cover travel vaccines because they’re deemed non-essential (yellow fever is non-existent in most of the world whereas tetanus is not). Although neither Mexico nor Costa Rica require vaccinations for individuals traveling there from the United States, when I lived in both places, I arrived fully inoculated with the “recommended vaccines.” If you’re visiting these countries strictly as a tourist, staying and dining at tourist facilities, most people are fine to go without. As I was staying with native families, I thought it was better to be prudent. So my traveler’s inoculation history includes Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and typhoid. I also took anti-malaria tablets when in Costa Rica, as this was something I was afraid of possibly contracting since malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease. And let’s face it, there are tons of mosquitoes there while at the present time there is no proven vaccine for malaria.
Peru was a destination I was seriously considering visiting this year, but due to rising airfare costs I decided against it; however, had I decided to go there, a trip to a travel medicine office would have been on the to-do list. It is highly recommended to avoid visiting your general practitioner if going to be traveling abroad and instead visit a doctor who has trained and is specialized in infectious diseases and sicknesses abroad. Traveling from one developed nation to another, one takes for granted avoiding the diseases and other health problems that have long since been eradicated there in these countries.
When I studied in Spain I was required to get a student visa since I was going to be there for more than three months. Although I fondly smile whenever I see my visa which is affixed to the front pages of my passport, it still involved time and money to obtain it. I had to travel to the Spanish consulate in New York City and basically spend the morning there waiting for my processing interview; the wait, however, was longer than the interview. I had to surrender my passport at the time (no spontaneous trips abroad during the period I was without it) but six weeks later I had it back, sent to me in the FedEx envelope I had prepaid. Was the process worth the hassle? Of course, because without the visa I wouldn’t have been able to study there. Are countries that require a visa worth the hassle when you’re going to be there for a week or less? It depends. For countries that allow you to obtain a visa upon arrival, ones that cost less than $25 USD (Cambodia and Turkey for example), the answer is yes. The hassle, cost and effort seems minimal. However, for a country like Brazil, the answer is not so black and white. As a result of the United States government’s charging Brazilian citizens who apply for a United States visa a minimum of two mandatory fees, the Brazilian government charges United States citizens a $140 reciprocity visa fee if they want to visit. Moreover visas cannot be obtained at the airport. It comes down to the matter of how badly you want to visit somewhere. Do you mind paying near to $300 on visas that you could be spending instead on food and accommodations? Although I would like to visit Rio de Janiero, Brazil is a country further down my destination wishlist. China, another red-tape visa country, is another matter.
I would never not travel somewhere simply because it involved some hassle, because if a country was exactly like your own, you probably wouldn’t want to visit.