How to Get A Schengen Visa Through the French Embassy (UPDATED 2017)

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SGMT France Paris Hotel de Ville

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The French embassy in the Philippines has entrusted processing of Schengen visa applications to VFS Global. Here’s what you need to know about the current procedure for getting a Schengen visa through the French embassy.

See if you are one of the people allowed to apply directly to the French embassy HERE.

Want to know about my personal experience applying for a Schengen visa at the French embassy? Read this article.
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Basic steps
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  1. Prepare your documents.
  2. Schedule an appointment with VFS.
  3. Go to the visa application center on your appointment schedule to submit your documents and have your biometrics taken.
  4. Wait for the result.
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http://smalltowngirlsmidnighttrains.com/2015/05/25/7-days-paris-budget/

When should you apply?

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You can only submit your visa application within 90 days from your date of departure. For example, if you are leaving the Philippines on August 1, 2016, you can submit your visa application from May 3, 2016 onwards.

Things to take into account as you decide when to apply:

  • The processing time for a short stay visa is 48 hours from the time the complete application is received at the French Embassy, while the processing time for a long stay visa is 15 working days receipt at the French Embassy. If you are asked to submit additional documents, processing time may take up to 4 to 8 weeks.
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  • In 2015, the French embassy received almost 20,000 visa applications! (That’s actually why they decided to get the help of VFS for visa application processing.) Don’t take it for granted that there will be an appointment slot available anyday.

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Is personal appearance necessary?

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Yes! You will need to have your photo and fingerprints taken.

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Will there be an interview at the French embassy?

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How to get a Schengen visa for Poland in 4 simple steps

The World Youth Day will be held in Krakow, Poland this year. In response to a reader inquiry, I’ve put together a simple step-by-step guide for getting a Schengen visa to visit Poland.


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In the Philippines, Schengen visa applications for Poland are handled by the embassy of the Netherlands.* Thus, many of the steps and requirements are similar to the ones for getting a Schengen visa at the Dutch embassy.

* There is no Polish embassy in the Philippines. Rather, the Polish embassy in Kuala Lumpur represents Polish interests in Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, and the Philippines. In the Philippines, there are honorary Polish consulates in Manila, Cebu, and General Santos City, but they do not process visa applications.

You can lodge your visa application no earlier than three months before the start of your intended visit. For example, if you are scheduled to depart for Poland on July 25, you can submit your Schengen visa application from April 25 onwards.

Here are the 4 basic steps to getting a Schengen visa for Poland:

  1. Pay the necessary fees at any Unionbank branch.
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  2. One day after payment, book an appointment with the Embassy through VFS.
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  3. Go to the embassy on your scheduled appointment and submit your requirements.
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  4. Wait for the results.
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11 Days in Europe: Paris, Venice and Rome Sample Itinerary (and Insider Tips)

Updated January 2017
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You know how it is.

You’ve finally saved enough to go on a 2-week trip to Europe — yay!!!

You don’t want to go on one of those big bus tours where you’re herded around like cattle with 40-60 other tourists.

You could get a travel agency to put together a trip for you but you know it will cost you a pretty penny.

What you really want is to DIY your trip: customize your itinerary to make sure it suits your tastes AND at the same time covers all the must-sees.

But You Just. Don’t. Have. The Time.

Well, you’re in luck. 🙂

In this article, we’re going to teach you the basics of putting together an 11-day European itinerary that will give you the best bang for your buck. We also share tips and other things we learned — sometimes the hard way — on our previous trips to Europe.

And if you want to skip all that and just get a really detailed itinerary — one that you can actually submit to the Embassy when you apply for a Schengen visa — we can give you that too. We’ve put together an 11-day itinerary (14 days in all, including transit) that has flight times, train times, daily schedules, tips, and links to where you can book everything you need to book. If that’s what you want, click HERE.

Let’s start!
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How to Tell If A Tour is Good Value or Not


We break down an $850 11-day tour of France, Switzerland, and Italy — its real costs, pros and cons — and discuss the questions you have to ask before signing up for any tour.

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Yesterday, a friend asked me to take a look at a tour he was considering going on later this year. I’m hardly a tour expert but, from experience, I think there are basic questions we need to ask before we decide to take a tour or not.

First, a few points:

  • On the road, I’ve met people who proudly say they “never do tours” and I think that’s a shame. There are good tours and bad tours, and even good tours have their pros and cons. The trick is to figure out whether a tour’s pros outweigh its cons far enough to make its price worth it.
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  • I usually go DIY because I have to stick to a certain budget and because when it comes to itineraries, I’m often fiercely independent to a fault. That said, I have loved many of the tours I’ve joined; there is a lot to be gained by listening to a local or an expert. A few favorites come to mind:
    • The tour with an archaeologist at the Colosseum in Rome — fascinating, plus signing up for a tour gets you through the mile-long lines much more quickly
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    • The Louvre tour with an art historian a/k/a how the French feel when people go to their museum only to see an Italian work of art 😀
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    • The tips-basis walking tour we joined in Munich, learning about the Beer Hall Putsch and the Kristallnacht and standing in a square where Hitler had marshalled his army
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    • Our Highlands tour with Andrew MacDonald which brought up a lot of surprising parallels between Scotland and the Philippines and touched on a lot of the things that I personally value very much, like freedom and loyalty and family
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Now back to the topic. 🙂

How to dissect a tour

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Below are the basic questions that will help you decide whether a tour is good value or not:

  1. What does the tour include? What doesn’t it include?
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  2. How much does the tour really cost when you add the “hidden” charges?
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  3. What are the tour’s stops? How much time do you spend in each stop? Is the time per stop consistent with your goals for the trip?
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  4. What are the tour’s advantages and disadvantages?
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  5. Given all of the above, is the tour worth it for you? If you don’t take the tour, do you have the time or resources to come up with an alternative itinerary?

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#Goals: Bernina Express

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Have you ever accidentally come across something, felt sudden chills running through your body, and thought, “Oh my gosh, I want this”?

Bernina Express in Winter_by Kabelleger_David Gubler_Public domain_via Wikimedia Commons

The Bernina Express in winter. Photo by Kabelleger / David Gubler (public domain).

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I was just looking up how to get to Venice from Paris in Seat61 and it mentioned the Bernina Express, so I went to that page, and then just: chills.

I don’t know why — I’ve never actually even dreamed of going to Switzerland before. But I make a lot of my travel decisions this way: based on whether or not the thought of going to a place gives me chills. (Wait, is the proper term chills or thrills?) And it’s not just because I’ve never seen snow yet, I don’t think.

So: #goals.

How do you decide where to go?

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© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

Where to stay in Inverness: Jean and Bill’s

[SGMT] Where To Stay in Inverness
Airbnb_Inverness_Jean and Bill


During our two nights in Inverness, we stayed at Jean and Bill Munro’s home, which we booked through Airbnb, and it was perfect. Jean and Bill are both retirees and they have a spare room in the second floor of their home which they rent out to visitors. The room had a double bed, a telly, a washbasin, a well-stocked fridge, an electric kettle, plates, utensils, the works. We had our own bathroom right next door, which was also stocked with everything we might need. And there was WiFi, of course. The house itself is only a 5-minute walk from the Inverness train station and 10-15 minutes’ leisurely walk to all the pubs, shops, restaurants, and other establishments along the River Ness. If you are ever in the Inverness area and need a place to spend the night, I would highly recommend staying here.

For more photos and details, check out the Munros’ Airbnb listing.
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If you’ve never tried Airbnb before, here’s a quick introduction:

A Beginner’s Guide to Airbnb

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For more about Inverness:

Inverness

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And for tours around the Scottish Highlands, I highly recommend Andrew MacDonald’s Hame Tours. You can read about our experience here:

The Highlands of Scotland

 

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Save for a trip to Europe in 1 year

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if we wait until we're ready we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives

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I went on my first trip to Europe with a Nokia 1110 in my pocket.

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It’s a story I’m fond of repeating, especially when people tell me they wish they can afford to travel. To be honest, most of the people who say that to me actually can afford to travel. Most of you reading this can afford it — some of you not right away perhaps, but within the next few months or years — if you want it badly enough that you’re willing to make saving for it a priority.

Nokia1110In the case of my first European trip, I worked out a ridiculously intense savings system that left me practically penniless the day after pay day. No more eating out, no more coffee dates, no more new shoes…and definitely no fancy phones. It was tough forgoing those little things that were my reward to myself for working hard, but eventually that’s how, on the very week the fifth generation iPhone was released, I was in Paris with a humble 4-year-old Nokia 1110 in my pocket. (I held on to it for 2 more years too.)

This year, I’m going into extreme savings mode again. I’m hoping to be able to save enough to take my entire family on a nice trip next year. It will mean drastically cutting back on travel and other non-essentials this year, but I think it will be worth it.

Care to join me on my savings journey?

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Below is the blueprint I’m using to save PHP 100,000 in one year. It’s a weekly savings plan — the amount to be saved each week is in the middle column, while the right-hand column will tell you how much savings you’ll have accumulated per week. There are 5 “cheat weeks” which you can move around where you like. The amounts to be saved descend in value each week. That means the first month will be bloody — in fact, I’m using two of my cheat weeks this January alone! — but come December the savings amounts will be much, much more manageable.
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