Our Friends

How we planned our Europe trip & Why its so hard

By Yeswanth on Oct. 3rd, 2023

It started during our college, when Akash and I always talked about planning a Europe trip together. Little did we know that we would resume this conversation every year for more than ten years before we fulfilled our dream to travel together to Europe. The main culprit for stalling our plans was Akash. He lived in U.S.A and he always had issues with his visa (who didn’t?). However, this time, it was different. He renewed his U.S. visa in December and we got to meet each other in December for his wedding. We then decided that we will plan a Europe trip together. My wife, Suneela, Akash, Anirudh (pingu) finally made it to Europe in May’23. This is a story of how we started planning and finally achieved our dreams after 10+ years of persistent procrastination.

Like every other time (literally), I didn’t believe that this trip will happen till I actually booked my first flight ticket to Europe. There is no going back after buying airline tickets, isn’t it?
I mean it took us more than 10 years to execute this trip. Zindagi Milegi Naa Dubara dreams of our past college life! We started scheduling group calls in January with Akash and Anirudh to first decide the number of days. We arrived at a ball pack figure of 3-4 weeks. Since Suneela and I didn’t have a strict 9-5 jobs, we could stay longer than others. The others might go back after a couple of weeks. That was the plan. I kept telling the guys that for a Europe trip, the most critical part is the Schengen visa. It’s not as easy as the other countries. In fact it is the toughest of all the visas I ever applied (and I have been to 18+ countries to date). But, ofcourse, life happened and no one really looked into visas in January. We identified an initial plan: Italy, Switzerland and end at Amsterdam and Akash would go on and meet his sister. We were also considering a few other places including Czech Republic and Germany but it didn’t really fit in with the plan. We had a limited time anyways. Italy, Switzerland and Amsterdam atleast fell in a straight line in the map.

It was me who proposed Italy as I poured countless hours in to Skyscanner and realised that flying into Italy is one of the cheaper options from India. I also considered flying into Netherlands but Akash insisted that he wanted to end our trip in Amsterdam as he would then go on and meet his sister who lives in Netherlands. So, Italy it is. I also implored the guys to read about Schengen visa, and it only hit the guys once they started thinking about applying for their visas in late February sigh!! .

Schengen visa has to be applied to a specific country and it depends on the following criterion:

  1. If you are planning to vist a single country, then apply to that embassy
  2. If you are planning to visit multiple countries, then apply to the country you are staying the longest
  3. If you are planning to visit multiple countries and staying the same at two of these countries, then apply to the embassy of the country you are entering into.

Since India is highly populated, there was a shortage of embassy slots for the country I want to apply to. Anyways, we managed to get a slot. It is also important to note that the schengen visa application will require the flight confirmation, day by day travel itinerary along with hotel reservations. So, it is quite expensive to get your visa rejected.

I confirmed the approximate days with the guys and booked the first flight tickets for Suneela and I. Others follwed suit, and booked their flight tickets with the same dates. So, it was all good. We all decided that we will roam Italy, Switzerland and then Amsterdam and then disperse from there. Suneela and I decided to stay one more week in Europe and then depart from Amsterdam.

Once we bought our flight tickets, we knew in our hearts that it’s gonna be real. My Zindagi Naa Milegi Doobara dream from college, finally coming along after 10+ years. Anirudh didn’t even believe that he is going to Europe with us till he actually sat on the plane. Even then he was super nervous! Still, there is that impending danger of visa rejection looming over my head.

Suneela and I sat down and took a printout of all the visa requirements. There are atleast 30 points in them. It took us a better part of a week to get everything in order. These included our itineraries, stays, train tickets between cities, flights, financial proof, our work situation, our other visas, etc. We were quite nervous and kept a nonchalance appearance till we actually got our visa. We had our first appointment among the group (as we applied early and were vary of the visa slots). We went to VFS office in Bangalore (for the country we applied the Schengen visa to) and submitted all our documents. The person at the counter in VFS verified each and every documents and finally told us to get our biometrics (which we did).

Then next two weeks after we submitted our visa application, we were quite tensed. We already booked a quite a lot of accomodation for our trip, and even planned to go to Belgium after we leave the group in Amsterdam for our final week in Europe. We are still planning out the minor details like which museum tickets to buy in Rome and Amsterdam(as online websites told us to book museum tickets early as they finish fast). All of these are up in the air, as we still have to get our visa and there is a chance of rejection too. We simply didn’t know and were quite nervous.

Finally, one fine day, we went to collect our passports and after opening the letter, we found out that we got our visa. Elated, we told the rest of the group. Akash already had his interview and was waiting for his visa and Anirudh is yet to go for his interview. Suneela and I told ourselves that even if the others don’t get their visas, we are going to Europe! We already invested quite a lot in buying flight tickets and spent a lot of time dreaming about the destinations. Finally, ten days before our trip, everyone’s visas came through and we all breathed a sense of relief. We all made it to Europe to Rome safe and sound and thus started embarked on our dream from 10+ years! hurray 🎉