Anyone who has done a lot of travel understands that travel-related bureaucracy falls into its own special category of weird and unusual. The bizarre questions you get asked on customs forms or during the immigration process can leave you scratching your head, and now a new survey has revealed the truly wacko questions that are sometimes asked during the visa application process.
A poll by a visa submission website asked travelers to recount the most unusual questions they had ever been asked. Among the strangest, was a question on a Mexican visa form asking the applicant to “describe their beard/mustache.” The responses applicants could choose from included “scanty,” “bushy” or “clipped.” Meanwhile, a man traveling to a Middle Eastern country was asked “how many wives do you intend to bring?” during his application process.Some seemingly odd questions may have a rational basis for being on the application form — Australia, for instance, which takes quarantine very seriously, asks if travelers “have been to a farm in the past six weeks.” Others just boggle the mind. Several travelers were asked, “What side of the bed does your wife sleep on?” when applying for a U.S. visa, while those heading to China were asked about the reason for visiting, with “visit” being one of the available responses.
Those behind the survey say that while the questions may seem weird to us, it’s simply a sign of cultural differences, and travelers should be careful not to joke when filling out visa forms or answering immigration questions.
Tell us, what’s the strangest visa question you’ve ever been asked?
Do you ever feel nervous going through border control in a new country? How about when you return home? A study by IXP visas polled 1,000 travelers who had been to at least ten foreign countries; over 60% said they felt intimidated by border officials at some time, with the most intimidating vote going to American border control. The reasons sited for the nerves included “obvious weaponry on display,” a “lack of humor,” and a general “intimidating demeanor.”
The countries with the most intimidating border officials:
- USA: 22% (of respondents called border control officers intimidating)
- UAE: 12%
- Mexico: 9%
- Canada: 8%
- South Korea: 6%
- UK: 5%
- Israel: 5%
- Pakistan: 4%
- Venezuela: 4%
- Cuba: 3%
Have you felt intimidated entering (or re-entering) the U.S.? Which country has you most nervous at immigration?
Traveling to new places gives us a sense of anonymity we just can’t get when we’re in our home cities – there’s next to no chance of us bumping into someone we know or having people recognize us as “that weird person that did xyz.” Which is perhaps exactly why so many travelers lose their inhibitions when they’re on the road and do things they would never dare otherwise.
What kinds of crazy antics do travelers get up to? Well how about asking hotel room service to deliver a bottle of coca cola to your room and then answering the door in nothing but your birthday suit? Or worse yet, asking hotel staff to hold a camcorder while you and your partner get down and dirty in your suite? It’s hard to believe, but these are exactly the kinds things hotel guests get up to according to a survey by booking website lastminute.com.au.The poll, which focused on Australian hotel guests, revealed many travelers engage in cheeky or otherwise awkward behavior. Requests for “adult” entertainers happen surprisingly often according to hotel staff, while other guests inadvertently put on an adult show after locking themselves out of their room while stark naked (be sure to check out the video below of one such mishap which took place earlier this year). Other less raunchy but no less bizarre behavior include a guest who tried to bring his pet snake with him on vacation and one who drove a golf buggy straight into the hotel.
I’ve always found it a little odd that flight attendants still greet passengers, check their boarding pass and direct them to their seats (as though they might get lost between the galley and row 15) – but apparently we rather like that. According to the 2013 North American Airline Satisfaction Survey, passengers who are greeted by smiley airline staff register 211 points higher levels of happiness than those who aren’t.
The study, which polled 11,800 passengers, rated flier satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale. It looked at everything from baggage fees to check-in to boarding processes and in-flight services to figure out just what makes air passengers tick.Overall, budget airlines rated better than traditional carriers when it came to passenger satisfaction.
The things we love the most? Being able to check-in to our flights online. According to the survey, 36 percent of passengers used online check-in and experienced much higher levels of happiness than those who used the main ticket counter at the airport. Travelers using a mobile device to check-in scored even higher. In general, technology seems to be a big winner among air passengers, and using Wi-Fi on flights also gave fliers a dose of good feelings.
Among the factors dragging down passenger happiness were baggage fees, although the survey showed that travelers are slowly becoming accustomed to the extra charges and were less irked by fees than in prior years.
Traveling on a beer budget isn’t easy when you have champagne tastes but it seems some vacationers have found a way to cheat their budgets – as well as everyone around them. A survey of British vacationers has revealed the lengths some travelers will go to in order to pinch their pennies, including lying and stealing, among other tactics.
One notorious strategy involves couples pretending to be on their honeymoon in order to score flight or room upgrades, with about 5 percent of survey respondents admitting to faking a special event so they could receive a perk.
Twelve percent of travelers confessed they’d used the pool or other facilities at a hotel they weren’t actually a guest of, while 8 percent said they had used another hotel’s shuttle bus.In some instances, entire families have been drawn into the charade, with about 11 percent of those polled saying they had lied about their children’s ages so they could pay a lower entrance fee when entering theme parks.
Other travelers looked for ways to cut costs when it came to food and drink. A whopping 39 percent of respondents owned up to pinching food from the breakfast buffet in order to save money on lunch. A handful of others admitted to stooping even lower by leaving a bar or restaurant without paying their bill. Reassuringly, only 1.4 percent of people fell into that category.
[Photo credit: Flickr user Marion Doss]