Bombed By Bureaucracy

Our family holiday plans are in tatters. Darling Man’s Schengen visa application was rejected.

We don’t quite know what to do next. There was a note stuck to Darling Man’s passport saying he needs to apply for a Schengen visa in his home country. We are not even sure if anyone looked at his application, or just saw the colour of his passport and sent it away.

What kind of madness is this? Isn’t the local French Embassy the liaison point of the French government, no matter where you are from?

It’s bureaucracy gone mad. And it smacks of racism.

As a result of this blind unfairness, we’ve had to cancel Darling Man’s flights and book him on a plane back to Vietnam. He will reapply for a visa there and hopefully we will be able to reunite as a family somewhere in Europe.

But the holiday I have been dreaming of and planning for more than a year won’t happen.

The holiday was supposed to be Darling Man’s reward for his house-husbanding efforts of the past two years and my reward for setting up location independent work. It was supposed to renew our romance, in the cobbled streets of Paris and along the backroads of Provence as we cycled past Medieval villages and fields of lavender and sunflowers. It was supposed to be a wonderfully bonding family time.

(Image from

And it seems we are powerless to make that planned holiday happen. Even though things were organised and booked and paid for.

I will take Miss M to France, with a two-night stopover in Cairo. There will be no tag-team toddler wrangling on the plane. There will be no one to watch Miss M while I catch up on sleep, because I can’t sleep on planes and I am a MONSTER when I don’t get enough sleep.

I am scared about the flights, about arriving in Cairo exhausted and battling the touts and scam artists at the airport. I dread Miss M’s tearful pleas for her daddy. I am going to be so lonely in our home exchange villa near Marseille. And I am not sure I am brave enough to tackle our planned month-long cycle tour without the designated mechanic, who also happens to be my best friend.

(Image from

I don’t want to go to France alone. But if I don’t go now – and take the chance that Darling Man can join us – I’m not sure when we will ever again have the opportunity to go. Darling Man wants to go back to work, a desire that will give him the standard Vietnamese 10 days of annual leave a year.

This visa problem is also bloody expensive. Excuse my French. But we were already on a tight budget and now we have lost money on his flights to France – we don’t know how much yet – and we have the extra expense of Darling Man’s flights to Vietnam, and then if he is able to get a visa, the cost of new flights to Europe. And then there’s the cost of reuniting once he’s in France.

We can’t actually do anything now. We are hard up against Songkran, the Thai New Year holiday, as well as the rest of the world’s Easter break. (There’s no Easter eggs in the shops here, so I only have a note in my diary to remind me it’s Good Friday this Friday.)

If we somehow do manage to pull off this European family holiday, at the end of it we will be flying back to Asia separately.

I really need to get over this self-pity and start looking forward to what I am determined will be a wonderful adventure. Just not the adventure I had planned.

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12 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Lyssie says:

    Is there no way to get another family member or friend to travel and be with you until you are reunited with your husband?

    Best Wishes!

    • Barbara says:

      Hi Lyssie, that’s a nice thought. But we are quite far from both our families at the moment. It would be an outrageous expense for anyone to travel with us. We will be fine, I did plenty of solo travel before the baby was born. I was just looking forward to a family holiday this time.

  2. I am so sorry that the rules are so very crazy, and yes, smacking of racism. Hope that things work out, they will, somehow. But the cost, and the stress, is just almost too much to bear. You’ll make it, though!!
    wandering educators recently posted..Postcard from the Edison and Ford Winter Estate

    • Barbara says:

      We’ll make it. Thanks, Dr J.
      I’m just feeling quite down in the dumps about everything at the moment. So much hard work and planning undone by stupid bureaucracy.

  3. Heather says:

    How horrible. I really feel for you. I’ve grown to hate all immigration and visa laws. As far as I’m concerned, we should all be considered citizens of the world and visit/live wherever the hell we want. Pardon my French 🙂
    Heather recently posted..An Ode to Melville

    • Barbara says:

      I guess that’s where my plans failed. I just assumed we WERE citizens of the world.

      And your French is most definitely pardoned. Thanks for stoppy by, Heather.

  4. So sorre, how disheartening. Vacations, adventures, getting away – you want to be with the one you love. (And your best friend, to boot.) Give yourself a chance to mope and mourn, then start building your energy for making the most of this. Good luck recently posted..Stigma-Smashing, One by One

  5. Oh no! The situation sucks, but hopefully things will work out with his visa, and if not, I think you will make the best of your time and enjoy your vacation with Miss M.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Photo Essay: An Unexpected and Beautiful Day at the Salar de Tara

  6. chenyze says:

    that seriously sucks. I’m sorry to hear that once again, French bureaucracy has been such a shmuck. *hugs*

  7. Tiphanya says:

    I’m so sorry for you. I hope that French people will show you that all of us are not as crazy are our government and system.

  8. Christine says:

    I’m so sorry to hear this! I try to remember to never take for granted the fact that I have a US passport that grants me (mostly) easy access to the rest of the world. Hoping the situation gets straightened out soon, and at minimal expense to you and your family!
    Christine recently posted..Salamanca is one of those cities I wish I could live and study…

  9. Michi says:

    I’m terribly sorry to read about you and your Darling Man’s situation. 🙁 As enriching as it is, it can also be hard to be an international couple at times, especially when it comes down to the headache (and sometimes nightmare) that is bureaucracy. Agh, and we all know how it can be with French bureaucracy…
    I’m sending you tons of positive thoughts and energy, and am deeply hoping that this will all be a blessing in disguise in the end. Un abrazo!

    • Barbara says:

      Thank you Michi. We are still hoping Darling Man will join us in France. I am determined to have a fabulous adventure with or without him. But thanks for your positive energy. I hope it helps!

  10. […] just like every other travel disaster, like Darling Man being refused a Schengen visa and Tiger losing our luggage, we coped. We took it in our stride and focused on the fun part of […]

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