After spending nearly 8 years on the road, one of the issues I’ve experienced and something my large audiences have asked for is about proof of onward travel.
With some countries, airports, and airlines before checking in, boarding or even arriving via immigration, it’s the pain in the ass question you may get asked. For long-term travellers or travellers with or without a budget, planning your next country ahead isn’t today’s problem. You’re happy to decide that later.
But for a growing number of countries, the question is being asked more and more. And well, if you don’t have any proof of onward travel, it can become a very real issue. It’s extremely possible that you’ll be prohibited to fly into the country or if you’ve already arrived, you can get refused entry by immigration and sent back to where you’ve come from, or even your home country!
Why Is Proof of Onward Travel Asked?
For countries that require no visas to visit where you can get a ‘visa on arrival’ more and more immigrations and airlines are asking for further onward travel proof. With the world more transient than ever, many visitors are overstaying the duration of their visas.
However, for travellers who go backpacking or are on a budget or just don’t know where they’ll be next, it can be an expensive and unnecessary investment. Renting a ticket has become popular nowadays despite some caution on whether they work or not.
In my experience, it works fine.
My Real Experiences
I’ve been ‘on the road’ for nearly 8 years consisting of Southeast Asia, South America and a whole bunch of other places. I’ve once been a backpacker, on a budget and solo traveller on the road for months and years at a time so I’ve experienced quite a bit. I understand that plans change or plans are non-existent at all!
Into the Philippines
Back in early 2013, I missed my flight from Bangkok, Thailand to Manila, Philippines because I didn’t have an onward travel ticket. I was given about twenty-minutes to book a flight and to report back to the check-in counter. The airline was with AirAsia I believe. Back then; BKK airport had some computers on the top floor you could use. To get up there took longer than I anticipated whilst the computers were slow and frustrating. I managed to book a flight to Jakarta, Indonesia, but I was too late.
The same thing nearly happened when I was in Macau flying to Taiwan. I was pushed to book an outward flight from Taiwan. I was one of the last ones checking in, so I had to frantically book a flight out of Taiwan. This time I had my smartphone, so it was easier and I didn’t miss the flight.
From what I hear Vietnam is a bit fussy on onward travel, especially with the influx of backpackers staying to ‘teach’ English. I’ve seen A LOT of posts asking this question for Central America and South America, too.
Nevertheless, for countries that aren’t isolated by water, I’d always mention I would take the night bus to the next country, so like Cambodia to Vietnam or Thailand, or Thailand to Laos or Cambodia. I used that method in South America, too. I’m British so Europe has never been an issue but I’d imagine you’d need to show where you’re going next.
Australia once put me on the spot and interrogated the life out of me a couple of times. There’s more to that story, but you get the drift.
But today I simply buy an onward ticket when I’m unsure.
The countries who may ask
In my experience, these countries have asked me for onward travel.
Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan Australia & United States.
Going by what people have said via social media, online and via blogs, these countries may ask also:
Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, New Zealand, Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica & Honduras.
There are a couple of ways to rent an onward travel ‘reservation’. In my case, the only solution I have used is by buying an onward travel ticket with BestOnwardTicket.
Their service is super quick, easy to use and in the grand scheme of things the rate is cheap. Especially, if you’re made to buy a brand new airline ticket or worse than that, refused entry on arrival!
How it works
Fill out the form with your official details. You can select the date when you want to fly out and if you want for an additional cost, the arriving airport.
Try to do this in advance. You can select if you need it straight away or for a later date. There is a six-hour turnover for this service if you need it on the day.
Remember, most visas on arrival are 30 days, so your ticket must be within 29 days or you’ll get questions about ‘overstaying’.
The cost is only $12 USD that can be paid by card or Paypal. The ticket is valid for up to 48 hours from the date of your ‘departure’.
You can now get a $2 discount by using the coupon code ‘TommyWalker’
Your ticket will come through to your email like a normal reservation. Print it out or save it to your phone and show upon request.
Remember what your ticket says just in case you are prompted to. This includes how long you’re in the country, what airports you’re flying from and to, and the departure date.
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