one way tickets and onward travel solutions

“Miss, we cannot let you board this flight.” I desperately explain my various visa problems looking anxiously at the clock and then to my friends who are checked in and ready for takeoff.

The check in lady lets me know “Your only option is to buy a refundable ticket and if your visa is granted, you can return it. Singapore on August 20th sound good to you? Great, that will be $1,075 dollars.”

I’m already about to vomit at this point. I don’t have a lot of options, the flight takes off soon, and no one ever warned me about these visas and onward tickets – I didn’t even know I had to leave the country to renew it. Why didn’t anyone tell me, why don’t I research these things? I  only have $1500 which I had saved for my 2 week snowboarding trip in New Zealand and my $400 visa fee. I look at a friend who nods at me, “Book the ticket…you have to. I got your back”.

Fast forward to this year in Bali. We’ve been lounging at the Nusa Dua beach all day and next thing you know we are late for our flight and running through the streets of Kuta to pick up Jonas’ custom made leather jacket. When we finally make it to check in, I’m asked about my visas and onward travel ticket. I didn’t have any physical proof of anything and I couldn’t manage to pull it up on the slow airport wifi. After explaining for what seems like an eternity, they let me through to my flight.

You’d think I learned my lesson, but for my upcoming flight, I totally didn’t even think about looking up visas and booking onward travel until now. But it got us thinking and researching. Turns out, they really make it a wee bit difficult for those of us who want to romantically travel on one way tickets- letting the wind drift us to the direction of whichever country we fancy, because there is the dreadful onward travel requirement. Never fear, there are onward travel solutions.

So what do you do for those of us who want to travel on a one way ticket? These are a few onward travel solutions:

First of all, it depends on the country you are flying from. Europe and Australia are strict and if you want to leave to any country other than your home country, you need to show proof of onward travel and visa if applicable at check in. If you are already in South East Asia for instance, you probably won’t be asked for proof of onward travel. And if you are, from the stories I’ve read, you can find an easy solution on the spot. But if you overstay your visa, you may be publicly caned.

Next, it depends on the visa. Is it a tourist/holiday visa, visa on arrival, or working-holiday visa? For a working-holiday visa, or other work visas, you most likely don’t have to have proof of onward travel. You simply have to have enough funds to buy you one in the future! Any other visas, and you better book onward travel if you are flying from strict countries.

The check-in lady or man. Sometimes, it can simply depend on how they’re feeling. For the strict countries, probably they have certain rules to abide by but other countries depends how lax the check in people are.

Here’s the tricky bit…

What type of onward travel?

Plane, train, bus, ferry, boat, blimp? Does the proof of onward travel have to be a flight?
I googled and googled for this question and answer and found some stories from fellow travelers. Some say, booking a train or bus to the next country is sufficient. Some say airplane is required. Some say certain airlines like Qantas require air travel as the proof. Well, I don’t see anything that says airplane ticket required so for my flight to Singapore with Scoot, I decided to book a local bus from Singapore to Malaysia as my proof of onward travel. It was the $20 bus versus $80 flight ($40 flight + $20 airport fees + $20 baggage). I decided to play roulette and go with the bus and at check in, I would be prepared to buy a cheap flight from Air Asia if they weren’t happy with that.

On that note, that is another option. Buying a cheap flight from Air Asia or something and skipping it if you want to stay a bit longer.

Then there are always the fully refundable flights, which usually only have a $15-$50 fee, but are pretty expensive straight out of pocket

Back to the bus tickets, today’s the day, I’m at the airport and it worked just fine. He asked for my flight out of Singapore and I nonchalantly passed over my bus tickets. We’re checked in and ready to go.

Moral of the story: There’s always research to be done and you can be creative with your one way tickets and onward travel solutions. In some cases the onward travel is required and in others it’s not necessary. Your dreams of traveling without set plans or destinations on a one way is only slightly hindered if you do have to buy onward travel. Remember, you have options, you can buy a fully refundable ticket, a cheap flight to a nearby country, or maybe you can take a bus or train? There’s usually only that one step of planning you have to do so you can still romantically travel on one-ways.