All posts by Sergio Garcia

Common TravelLike any other industry, you have to be aware of scams. Here is an overview of some of the most common travel scams and how to avoid being scammed.

Scam Offer: Travel Deal that is deeply discounted to pennies on the dollar
Many deals are legit, however this particular scam won’t give you time to think about it and will expire in say 10-12 hours, so you better act fast. Read the fine print and make sure the travel restrictions to take advantage of the deal aren’t ridiculous like limited travel times, limited destinations or hidden fees.

Scam Offer: You sit through a sales pitch, real estate offer for “free” travel
This one isn’t as common, but still occurs. You get a postcard or email to take advantage of a no-strings tour or presentation and at the end of this pitch, you will get some free travel vouchers. Generally the travel vouchers won’t be free travel but mere discounts on already insanely priced travel packages. The vouchers are usually non-transferable.

Scam Offer: You rent a vacation home from someone who isn’t an owner
With the ability to post ads online, use AirBnB or Craigslist, this scam is out in full force. Basically it works like this. You run across the perfect deal on a vacation rental, you pay a down payment or other arrangement and the person doesn’t even actually own the property. When you try to get the keys or paperwork, it’s not unusual to find the scammer has already skipped town with your payment. To avoid this one, only rent through a reputable company.

Scam Offer: Free Vacation Winner!
You receive a very official looking letter in the mail that you have won a vacation in a contest you never entered (first red flag) all you have to do is call the number to redeem your vacation package. You call and find they want your credit card info to charge you for your prize and the fees on these winnings are usually huge.

Those are just a few of the most common travel scams out there. Have you been scammed?

SARAThe People’s Republic of China, or just China is sometimes confused with the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan. If you are planning to travel to China on business or as a tourist, you will need both a current passport and a travel visa to enter the country.

Passport Requirements 
You will need to have a passport that carries an expiration date 6 months beyond the date of your trip completion. You will also need to have side-by-side blank visa pages. If you need to renew your passport, we offer an expedited service and we can also help you add extra pages to your passport.  You can get more information about those passport services here.

Business and Tourist Travel Visa Requirements for People’s Republic of China
The embassy requires that the forms be typed not handwritten, be aware of this requirement. We have an easy to follow list of the paperwork you need to get together to obtain your travel visa. We can also expedite the process for you if you need it faster than the standard processing time of approximately 10 working days.

If you need to obtain your travel visa to China faster, we can assist you with that and expedite your paperwork to the embassy and get your visa back to you within 1-2 working days. Contact us to get started with your visa today.

Have any questions about traveling to the People’s Republic of China? Just call us! (713) 874-1420

 

We can make getting your passport and travel visa a breeze when you want to visit Russia, but what about the trip itself? Need some ideas for where to go, what to see, and where to stay? No worries we have some ideas for you.

Travelata.ru

Travelata makes it simple to plan your trip to Russia on one single website. This online travel agency helps you find the perfect hotel or B&B to fit your wants and needs on your visit to Russia. Over 100 cities are currently covered with more added on a regular basis as the coverage expands. The company also has more than 25 brick and mortar locations across Russia, including an office in Siberia. This app is available for both iOS and Android devices.

Sletat

Would you rather have someone else plan your trip to Russia for you? You need Sletat. This online travel agency covers about 80% of the country, so there will be a lot of options to pick and choose to your trip. Works for iOS and Android.

Yandex

There are hundreds of stations that make up the Moscow network and getting around can feel overwhelming. A huge helper app is the Yandex app. This app has metro maps for St. Petersburg and Moscow and will help you navigate your way around. Best of all, it works offline as well as online.  Available for both iOS and Android.

Gett

Uber is a thing in Russia just like the U.S. and if you prefer to use it – great. If you’d rather go with a taxi service,  Gett will be your new best friend. You can have access to the taxis closest to you and schedule a ride. instead, and you’ll have a network of local taxis at your fingertips. Available for iOS and Android devices.

Learn Some Russian

Russian may seem overwhelming to learn, but pick up a few words to help you navigate. The Learn Russian app has over 10,000 flashcards to help you pick up useful words and phrases. Learn Russian is available for Android devices only.

 

The US State Department strongly encourages American citizens planning international travel to register with the US Embassy(s) iGhana is one of the travel visas we handle most often.
Here are some of the most common questions travelers have about the process.

How long may I stay in Ghana on a travel visa?
The current maximum stay is 30 days.

I don’t understand which what it means by type of travel visa to Ghana.
There are two types of travel visas for entry to the country. Whichever visa you choose depends on the reason for your visit. You will need to either choose a business class visa or a tourist visa.

What days can Texas Tower process my Ghana visa?
We can process your Ghana application for a travel visa Monday through Thursday. The embassy is closed on Friday.

Is the application for a Ghana visa available online.
Yes, you can access it through Texas Tower here.

Do I need to provide a passport photo with my application?
Yes you will need to provide two passport photos with your Ghana visa request.

Will I need a blank visa page for my Ghana trip?
Yes, Ghana requires that you have one blank visa page available. Talk to us if you need additional pages, as you will now need to renew your passport.

Are there any additional elements someone who does not hold a U.S. passport needs to provide for the Ghana visa request?
Non-USA passport holders must provide a copy of green card or US Visa and I-94

Will I need to include a copy of the airline schedule for my trip to Ghana?
Yes, you will need to include one copy of flight itinerary for both business and tourist travel visas.

For business trips, is a host required?
Yes, you will need to submit proof of an invitation from a host in Ghana.
A company letter on your company letterhead is also required. If you need help, we can assist you here with drafting your business letter.

Are any vaccinations required for travel to Ghana?
Yes, currently you are required to be immunized against yellow fever and cholera.

What about travel warnings for Ghana?
The U.S. State Department strongly encourages American citizens planning international travel to register with the U.S. Embassy in their destination country. This registration will automatically enroll travelers in the State Department travel warning and advisory program.

If you have any other questions – just ask us! You can contact our offices at 713-874-1420 ask us on Facebook.


Japan is a popular destination and for U.S. travelers, no visa is required for entry. Just a valid U.S. passport!

Here are some common questions about visiting Japan for the first time.

How long is the average stay for tourists in Japan? 
Most people tend to stay one to two weeks. Remember, you need 6 months beyond the expiration date of your passport when visiting Japan.

What are some of the main cities to explore?
Tokyo, of course. Kyoto, Nara, and Koya are all excellent places to immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

What is a good way to get around Japan?
Definitely, invest in a JR Pass. It will let you have unlimited train rides and that includes the bullet train anywhere around Japan.

 

 

 

 

Other than hotels what are good places to stay in?
Hostels are always great for keeping on a budget and meeting new people. AirBnB often has deals and there are guest houses you can rent

What about WiFi in Japan?
There is WiFi but finding it free is another story. Picking up a 3g hotspot device is worth the investment.

How can I renew my passport in a rush?
You can get your passport renewed quickly, start here.
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Beautiful, busy Hong Kong is a great place to dive in for a vacation getaway. U.S. citizens don’t usually need a travel visa for entry, but you will need a valid passport and you may need an Apostille on documents submitted. We can assist you if you aren’t sure.

Here are some fast and easy tips for getting the most from a Hong Kong visit.

You Won’t Get Your Passport Stamped
United States citizens don’t require a travel visa and since 2013, you will get a stapled piece of paper with your travel itinerary.

Hit Up Public Transportation When Possible
Renting a ride or taxi can get expensive in traffic and Hong Kong has a pretty reliable public transportation system that will save you money getting around. Especially to and from the airport. If you spring for an Octopus Card, you will be set to ride ferries, buses, and trains.

Be Adventurous Eating
Hong Kong has some of the best street food you’ll find. Try some Black Sesame Tong Yuen for breakfast if you don’t try any other foods in HK. It’s a delicious rice ball filled with sweet black sesame or red bean paste and covered in nuts. A great way to get your energy fix for the day.

Find Victoria Harbour at Night
The area will light up after dark with a laser show across the water synced to music.

Those are just a few tips to make your time in Hong Kong more fun. Make sure your passport is valid and start planning your time in HK.

How to Get a Venezuela Travel Visa Fast
We process a large number of Venezuelan travel visas for U.S. citizens. Every country has their own nuances and unique requirements for entry by U.S. citizens. Venezuela is no different. The following are some of the most common questions we receive regarding Venezuelan travel visas.

I’ve heard there are multiple types of travel visas for Venezuela, can you tell me what they are?
Sure, there are three types of visas issued to U.S. citizens traveling to Venezuela. The type of visa you obtain depends on the reason for your visit to the country. You may get a business visa, tourist visa, or a work visa.

What is the maximum stay in the country on a visa?
Maximum Stay: 90 days

Where on the Texas Tower site can I locate the application for  a Venezuela visa?
The Venezuela visa application is located on our dedicated visa page for the country.

Will I need to submit a passport photo with my visa application?
Yes, you will need to submit 2 (two) passport-type photos.

Does Venezuela require any blank pages in my passport?
Yes, For a business-class visa you will need 3 blank pages for entry to Venezuela. Tourist visas require 1 blank page. Work visas require 2 blank pages. Your passport should have 6 months validity beyond the date of completion of your visit to Venezuela.

How do I get extra pages added to my passport?
Until January 2016, you simply added pages. In the preset, you will be required to renew your passport no matter when the actual expiration date of your passport is.

Does a business visa require a copy of the flight itinerary?
Yes, you will need to provide a copy of your flight schedule with your visa application.

For a business or work visa, will I need to provide a letter of invitation from a host in Venezuela?
Yes, you will need to provide a copy of a letter from a host in Venezuela. Business visa applications will also need to have the following paperwork included:

  • Copy of Articles of Incorporation from the company in the US
  • Copy of the RIF SENAIT from the inviting company in Venezuela.
  • Copy of Carta Mercantil form the Government of Venezuela

What does a non-U.S. passport holder need to provide in terms of documentation for a Venezuelan travel visa?
Non-USA passport holders must provide a copy of green card or US Visa and I-94.

If a child is traveling, will they need to make an appearance at the Consulate?
Here are the requirements for children traveling to Venezuela:
Venezuela Visa Fast Call Now! (713) 874-1420 - Texas Tower 24 Hour Passport and Visa.clipular

Can you show me the requirements for a Venezuela Work Visa?
Yes, you can see the full list including the necessary sample letter on our dedicated Venezuela Visa page.

What authorizations will I need to provide for a Work Visa in Venezuela? You will require the following documents: 

  • Authorization from Venezuela’s Ministry for the Interior,Justice and Peace.
  • A certified copy of the work permit issued by the Ministry of Labor.
  • Degrees, work certificates and other proof requested by the Ministry for the Interior, Justice and Peace that show evidence of the applicant’s employment status.
  • A copy of the employment offer or contract.
  • A certificate of health. Translated into Spanish–Texas Tower offers this service.
  • A police record issued by local authorities. Translated into Spanish-Texas Tower offers this service.
  • Company Letter of Guarantee

How fast can I get a travel visa to Venezuela?
Processing time is 10-15 business days.

No matter what the reason is that you need your passport, we can help you.

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The number one reason people realize they suddenly need their passport, is the country they are about to visit needs to see that you have more more than 6 months left on your passport before it expires. If you have less than six months left until the expiration date, pretty much consider your passport expired.

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You have choices for renewing your passport, changing the name on your passport, or even applying for your first-ever passport for yourself or a child in your family.
If you choose to go through the State Department – there are fees and the process can take on the average anywhere from four to seven weeks. This is exactly the reason it makes sense to outsource the processing of the paperwork to Texas Tower.

We can bring the standard time service for obtaining your passport down to 8-12 days.  If you need your passport on a rush basis, we can have your passport within 24-hours.

Read more about the types of passport situations we can assist you with at the Texas Tower Passport page.


Planning your first visit to China? Here are some tips to know to make your visit go smoothly.

Learn a Little Chinese
Most Chinese people learn English in primary grades. If you speak English clearly and slowly to someone in an urban area, chances are you will be understood. In the more rural areas, it might be difficult to find someone that speaks English. It’s good to learn some Mandarin phrases for basics you might need to ask about.

Make sure Beijing is on Your List of Destinations

Focus Your Tourist Destinations
This is not only the capital city of China, but you can see one of the eight Wonders of the World, The Great Wall. Check out the Forbidden City and see the Summer Palace.

Look at the Long-Range Weather Forecast Before You Go
China has the distinction of having the largest range of weather of any country on Earth. Because the weather can vary from region to region, look up the long-term weather predictions where you plan to visit.

4. How to Shop in China

December is the prime time to score deals. With vendors, most prices are negotiable. Keep your cool, smile when you are bargaining and know not all price negotiations will be successful. Always act like the item isn’t very important and if you walk away, sometimes the vendor will follow you and accept your price.

5. Dining in China

One of the most interesting things about China is every region has a distinct style of cooking. Roast duck in Beijing, Shanghai has steamed pork buns you shouldn’t miss out on, and Guilin rice noodles are delicious.

Once you make your travel plans, talk to us about getting your passport and travel visa, we can make the process fast and easy.

Things to Know Before Your First Visit to Ghana

1. Never been to Ghana before? Check any preconceived notions you have about Africans at the door. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

2. Don’t photograph people unless you ask politely. It’s considered rude to point and click at locals going about their daily lives without permission. Most Ghanians will happily pose for photos if approached politely.

3. Did you know the average Ghanian speaks 3 languages including English by age 8? Rest assured you shouldn’t have any issues being understood.

4. Learn some useful Twi phrases so you can speak to locals. It’s considered respectful for travelers to at least try. Here are several to get you started.
english phrase         Twi phrase                [pronunciation] 1.How are you?      Wo ho te sɛn?         [woe HOE teh SANG] 2.I am doing well   Me ho yɛ.                  [mih HOE yeh] 3.What’s up?            Ɛte sɛn?                     [eh-teh SANG] 4.I’m fine.                   Ɛyɛ.                              [eh-yeh] 5.Yes.                           Aane.                           [aah-NIH]/[ayn] 6.No.                           Dabi.                             [deh-BEE] 7.Good morning. Maakye.                      [mah CHEE] 8.Good afternoon. Maaha.                     [mah HÃ] 9.Good evening   Maadwo.                    [mah JWO]

5. You probably already have a list going of places you want to visit in Accra. Talk to the locals and find particular places of interest. Yes, there are tourist venues, but see Ghana as the people who live there see it to really experience it.

Texas Tower is your one-stop passport and travel visa venue. You can skip the trip to the embassy for your travel visa and we can expedite your passport. Call us with any questions 713-874-1420.