The disadvantage of being Colombian.
It's clear for everyone that Colombians don't have the best reputation, especially when it comes to visas and traveling (thanks Pablo Escobar). As a Colombian I am enormously proud of my country, my people, my land and my culture, but I am also a victim of the many generalisations and accusations that we suffer just because of our nationality. As I travel a lot, I have found myself in many situations in which being Colombian has transformed into a problem. Not only do I end up in every "random" bag search, but also I have found myself in situations where I have had to stay 4 hours at the airport just because of my passport.
Being the target of discrimination is frustrating and irritating, especially when you can't complain about it. Getting visas is a total nightmare, different countries have different requirements, but most of them ask for ridiculous amounts of paperwork and take quite long to be processed. This process is even more laborious when you live overseas like me, especially in countries like Australia where there are no embassies for many countries. Visas are our biggest curse. I have seen many cases, in my travel agency and of friends, where Colombians lose all their bookings and travel arrangements just because of the visas.
We are one of the nationalities that needs visas for an enormous amount of countries and many people forget this detail when planning journeys overseas. Visas for us can take from a few hours to a few weeks, and if you are not organised and prepared with all the paperwork you may just lose the opportunity to travel. As much as I hate this discrimination it is a reality that we have to live with, and I have elaborated a "system" to prevent any issues.
Remember to Always do everything with time and you will be alright (at least one month in advance).
Choose the country you want to go to.
Go into the OFFICIAL embassy website and search for requirements, to be 100 % sure of the papers you need and what you have to do to apply for the visa. Call the embassy of this country where you live (even if you are living overseas) and ask them all the questions you have and maybe ask them to send you an email with the information.
Normally you will need:
Bank statements (proof you can pay your journey), passport photos, passport (or photocopy), proof of employment or university (anything that proves you will be coming back to your country, visa (if you are living overseas), return flights, visa fees and accommodation bookings (even if it is only for the first night). Sometimes, depending on the country, you may need something extra so check carefully.
Send your passport or go to the embassy with all the paperwork needed.
I know all of this is annoying, especially when you travel to more than one country, like I normally do, but is a reality we are forced to live with for now. It is in our hands to show the world that we are so much more than drugs and crime.
We have to represent our country with pride and respect. Colombians traveling are the face of the country on an international plane and it is our duty to change these harmful stereotypes. Let's change the world together, let's travel and give our country, our people, the freedom of the nomadic life.
If anyone has any questions or comments about anything I am very happy to answer or help in any way I can.