If you’re like me and you love to travel but frequently meet road blocks that make you upset, then this is for you. Or maybe you just want to put yourself in my shoes; that empathy will serve you well so just read on.
International travel planning can easily shift from a pleasant, mind enriching learning experience into a bundle of negative emotions.
I like to think of myself as a true travel enthusiast. There are numerous international trips planned in my head that will get accomplished someday. Traveling gives me a feeling very similar to fulfillment. I love learning about new places, meeting new people and experiencing cultures different from mine.
But what do you do when you have to jump several hoops to make one trip happen? The visa application process for Cameroonians is typically over-demanding.
I was intrigued to learn about the Hensley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index . This is an annual report where countries are ranked according to the total number of countries which they can access visa-free.
Germany tops the list with a score of 177 to which they have visa free access. This is closely followed by Sweden. Afghanistan is at the bottom with a score of 25.
Want to know where Cameroon falls on this list?
Cameroon ties with Nigeria, Angola and Equatorial Guinea.
Wonder about the USA?
Keep reading …
If you’re from Cameroon or anywhere in the developing world you know that tourism isn’t generally perceived as something easily affordable for people of our origin. There is always a high degree of skepticism with which the application for travel is scrutinized for most low and middle socioeconomic class members of developing countries. I also understand that there are immigration laws, reciprocity matters, national (and international) safety and security reasons behind this, but it does not change the frustrations I’ve experienced as a traveling Cameroonian.
I am writing this piece on an airplane to Sint Marteen after extreme scrutiny at my departing airport checkpoint. This is maddening to say the least but doesn’t negate the fact that I still have the blessing to make the trip.
The most striking thing about this very moment is the mind shift I just had after something I read out of a book. As I marinated in negative emotions after settling into my exit row seat, these words offered me a change in mindset.
The book is titled “The Book of Joy” by the Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams.
In a discussion about the Dalai Lama’s experience being in exile from Tibet ( in India) he says:
” … Many of us have become refugees … there are a lot of difficulties in my own country and when I look only at that then I worry, but when I look at the world, there are a lot of problems… When we see these things, we realize that not only do we suffer, but so many of our human brothers and sisters. So when we look at the same event from a wider perspective, we will reduce the worrying and our own suffering ”
Now, let’s clear the air. A small amount of required scrutiny prior to traveling for pleasure is NOT suffering. A momentary challenge of collecting documentation to prove your credibility to gain access into another country is not to be compared with fleeing death from your home country. In essence I will not make light the plight of a leader in exile or any refugees across the world. But, from his narrative I am able to extrapolate that not having an easier travel experience is not enough to cause me physical distress displayed as anger, sadness or a sense of inferiority.
I choose to transform my view of traveling as a West African from a struggle or an achievement. I know a lot of Africans who can afford to travel who would just want traveling to be what it is supposed to be —fun and adventure.
I acknowledge that with my passport, international travel requires effort beyond just purchasing a ticket but that isn’t enough to justify a legion of negative emotion such as stress, anger or frustration. The ability to travel is icing on the cake of life. Many of our brothers and sisters are indeed suffering greater troubles than these restrictions. I am not propagating schadenfreude, but the encouraging lesson here is —maintaining proper
travel perspective in every circumstance is key.
If you’ve previously found it annoying to always require a visa even to cross a bridge; don’t let it stop you from your wandering. Save ahead, hustle for your visa and never give up.
Partner, it is okay to be consumed with wanderlust!
Because I live in the best country in the world right now; the great U. S. of A… here are the stats; the United States scores at 174 countries with liberty of entry. It ties with Denmark, Finland, Italy and Spain.
For more info on this liberty clickhere .