Visa-Free Travel

I spent about six hours this week researching areas of the world in which I would be able to travel with relative ease. I discovered that a United States passport is considered in the top-ten in the world for tourism visas. It is possible, according to several websites, to enter about 160 countries either without a visa, or by purchasing a visa at the border. Still, Russia and China are not included on that list, which means I’ll most likely have to fly from Europe to Asia. I am also considering a mostly-land route through Kazakhstan and Mongolia, then heading south to India. From India I shouldn’t have any trouble at all touring Southeast Asia for a few months. Kazakhstan would also serve another purpose, which I will discuss momentarily. Visas are most likely going to be the worst part of traveling. Not only will I not be able to enter certain countries without extensive documentation and applications, but even most of the free visas expire within 30 days. Take the Schengen Bloc in the European Union. The borders of some 26 countries have no border controls, making travel quick and easy. But the 90-day visa is applied to the entire group. As such, it’s illegal to stay in ALL of Europe for more than 3 months in any 6 month period. I think I would prefer to have border checks…

I have recently discovered a “hobby” in which I would like to participate while traveling. Apparently there is a group whose members use their weekend to scale chimneys in (mostly Eastern) Europe. Apparently during the Cold War the USSR built a plethora of massive chimneys for coal furnaces, chemical plants, and other industrial uses. The tallest in Europe is actually in Slovenia. I absolutely don’t want to start on this one, but eventually I’ll put it on my list. Here is a video of people scaling the chimney! The largest chimney in the world is almost 420m high in Ekibastuz, Kazakhstan. Hopefully the opportunity presents itself at some point in my travels.

I’ve also come up with an exciting new idea for my travel blog. Since I have two sites, I will maintain one of them (this one) as a personal account – edited only by myself. I think the other site I am going to try to incorporate the stories of all the awesome locals and fellow travelers I meet while exploring. I am going to try to open the site so the general public can add blog posts and photos. Either that, or I will selectively give interesting people a password that changes monthly. That way, they can add their own stories about traveling or just life in general in their respective countries of residence. I haven’t thought it through too much, but hopefully this will offer a perspective that other travel blogs don’t. I would probably have to create a Facebook group for anyone that wants to add posts – that way we could easily communicate with each other outside of the blog page. More on this as it unfolds!

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