It is better to travel well than to arrive.
Just because you have a proper visa established with a confirmed and paid flight, doesn’t always guarantee you to board and fly to your international destination.
This is the “proof of onward travel” obstacle.
What happens if this occurs can go in one of two ways; when first checking in to have your ticket printed from the airline at the airport, they will ask for proof of onward travel or, if you already have a printed ticket, you can be denied at entry when boarding begins, even after passing through security and immigration.
“Proof of onward travel” means a flight confirmation document or ticket (or less often boat or train) to leave the destination country you wish to enter.
If you had already booked a round trip or exit flight, then that’s your proof of onward travel and you have nothing to worry about in this regard.
But I personally rarely enter a country knowing when I’ll be leaving as with many other vagabonds and digital nomads. And for whatever reason anyone else would choose to fly with a one way ticket into a foreign country.
So if you were to get caught with this obstacle, you had to purchase an onward flight right then and there and show proof of it to the airline agent to fly and gain entry.
This could mean being forced to purchase an extremely expensive flight, booking for an unfavorable date or even missing your current flight due to the delay.
There is a better way with these hacks:
The Safe Way
The best way to hack the proof of onward travel requirement is to not hack it all and just buy a ticket you’ll actually use to leave the country.
But this locks you to a set date, which to many travelers including myself, is not ideal or acceptable.
So the trick is to buy a fully refundable flight that you have no intention of actually using. But these tickets are rare and often cost significantly more. And it will tie up your funds for as long as it takes (a week to a month or longer) for the airline or booking site to refund your money, with potential fees.
Remember to read the fine print.
However, many booking sites offer free cancellations / refunds within 24 hours after booking so you can time it to your itinerary.
The Vinjabond Way
This has worked every time, granted it’s only been half a dozen times but across 5 different airports and 4 airlines so far. This method is not exactly possible for everyone but it’s legal and it’s not even a loophole.
At worst, an airline agent once had to call her supervisor for approval, which after their quick conversation in a language I didn’t understand occurred, I was approved entry.
The Risky Way
This method I do not personally recommend but it is a proven travel hack. Instead of purchasing an actual flight just to provide a proof of purchase, you can make a counterfeit version yourself.
Using Photoshop or analog editing, you can alter an old ticket or booking confirmation and print it out. Alternately, a carefully recrafted email receipt or digital ticket screenshot to show to the agent.
Ideally using an airline you’re not using it on, as the staff will know how their own looks like. However, any diligent employee can easily look up and verify the authenticity of your “ticket” in seconds, regardless of the airline.
With the current state of high security at airports, any illegal activity, including fraud, could be have more severe penalties then usual.
So proceed with caution.
These proof of onward travel policies are not universal nor do they seem to be strictly enforced by the country to the airlines. It depends on the airline, the country and even to the specific airline staff you’ll have to deal with.
In my experience, this “policy” is flexible and used more like a guideline, but when it is requested by an adamant agent, you’ll have to use one of these hacks.
Hacking The Proof of Onward Travel Requirement.