How to apply for a schengen tourist visa on your own without a travel agent 

For many of us , travelling is a dream, a passion , a lifeline that keeps us going through the motions of our daily lives …

I am one of you too, I live to travel, I think I have nomadic genes somewhere …

Most of us dream about the ultimate European vacation …We give up on it too soon coz it’s either too expensive as promoted on multiple travel sites or it seems quite complicated..Or so I thought till I took up the task of fulfilling my dream to take my daughter to visit Disneyland so that she will have amazing memories of her childhood she can cherish all her life …

Since I had quit and had time on my hands I started with planning this out ..And I’d like to share my experience with you guys hoping it might help someone plan and succeed at this too..

Step 1 : Figure out your budget …It can’t be a small budget cause there’s more to this goal than tickets and stay …Ensure you have time on your hands coz this is not as easy as pie and takes effort to get everything in order …Plan your trip atleast 3 months ahead of time so you can be absolutely ready to go.Get your leaves done , kids vacation planned , have some one take care of your plants , your fish or whatever that needs to be taken care of whilst your away.

You will need to factor in costs for tickets, travelling within Europe by trains or flights , local travel , stay and cost of sight seeing as well as food…

Figure out which country you want to apply for.. Germany I believe is better to apply for when applying for a schengen visa and also open a map of europe ..Check what route you will be travelling and what your entry and departure cities will be .Frankfurt is one of the cheaper airports to fly into from mumbai..Also check trip advisor extensively for real time advise

Once you have budgeted this out … Typically I’d say you need about 70-75k as an initial figure per person to achieve this goal.Then you start hunting for tickets ….Use every website possible to find the best tickets, read reviews about airlines and book your tickets as early as possible

Some useful websites you can use are Skyscanner, Google flights , make my trip, yatra , cleartrip etc. Check all of them and spend time making your booking

Step 2 – book your hotels but make sure everything is refundable at this stage and can be paid later when you go stay coz you probably like me still don’t have a visa ..

Booking.com is a fabulous website for hotel bookings as is hostel world.com and Airbnb depending on what your preferences are..Try to book places with breakfast so you can spend less on food.

Step 3 – Get your documents ready.

Since there was 3 of us, I made 3 seperate folders and started putting in documents..This for most of us is the most daunting task…We have visualized off putting long tedious lines and babus asking for bribes and getting rejected…Let me reassure you, the vfs office is fabulously professional , you can walk in and be treated with respect , hand over your documents and you will get your visa if everything’s in order.

Documents you will need.

Valid passport for atleast 6 months

Visa photos – Get 6 done no harm there keep extras

IDs – pan card , aadhar card for residence proof as well.

Bank statements – take it out a day before you go so you have the updated one.make sure you have as much balance as possible as they check if you can cover your trip

Salary slips if employed – they say 3 take out 6 months

Last 3 years itr receipts

Declarations

A cover letter stating your objective to visit and your itinerary in detail.

I applied for a friends and family visa so I also needed an invitation letter, my relatives passport, residence proof copy etc.

Travel insurance – I bought this online just using Google and comparing prices

Flight tickets

Hotel bookings

The entire list of documents you need is on the vfs website, so go take a print out and start checking what you already have, helps keep things in perspective.

Fill the online vfs form , print it , sign it and your good to go.you will get an appointment so make sure you reach that day on time and try to be there early morning it’s less crowded then

If you make a mistake vfs will help you so don’t be scared or nervous..They also have a photocopy machine and you can take pics there at a higher cost if you forgot something .

Go submit your docs they will verify it and send you elsewhere with your docket, go through some more checks, pay the money, keep the receipt and off you go.

You will start receiving texts with your passport status.I applied on Friday and my visa was stamped and back on Tuesday..All I had to do was go collect them…

It was a lot of work no doubt since I didn’t have a travel agent helping me out but I saved money on tickets, I booked good hotels at decent prices where I wanted to stay , I saved on commissions and I will be using all.my savings on my vacation with my family..

Hope this was helpful for you guys to figure out the visa process

I have listed out things that helped me and websites I recommended were personally used ..They may or may not work for you so I would leave it to you to research what works best and can only hope my experience was useful in some way …

Have a great trip guys, keep travelling, and keep dreaming !!!

Disclaimers : None of the websites are being promoted by me , am recommending stuff as per my experience.

Pic source : Google

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