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Where in the world? October 2018 – Onward ticket dilemma

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Greetings from the Island of the Gods! I am back in Bali again – yes that’s twice in a year. I was here earlier in February and I find myself back under the southern cross.

I spent the summer in Europe touring France, Spain and Portugal in a campervan. It was great fun and I set up a Youtube channel to film my adventures. Here is my first #vanlife video.

I sold the van back in England and pretty much got what I paid out for it initially.  I will definitely be living vanlife again but it will be in a larger vehicle. My work kind of suffered as a result of being in a small van although I did find some good cafes to work out of.

So I will be in Bali for a few more weeks before heading up towards Thailand via Malaysia or Singapore.

The onward ticket dilemma for nomads

I don’t have an onward ticket because I like the flexibility. Many airlines now insist on proof of having onward travel but there are airlines where you can buy a ticket without having to pay the full amount. Thai Airways allows you to book a seat and gives you up to 48 hours to pay. If you don’t follow through with the payment the ticket is cancelled.

They have been allowing this for years now and I am surprised they still let you get away with this.

Another useful way of getting a ticket for proof of travel is to use (has to be the US site so dot com). If you book any flight with a non-budget airline e.g. Garuda, Thai, Singapore Airlines etc you can cancel the ticket within 24 hours. You have to pay for the ticket when booking this way but you get a full refund and it can be done online so there is no need for call centers or anything like that.

Buy a refundable ticket

This strategy is pretty self explanatory. You buy a refundable ticket to use as your proof of onward travel and then cancel the ticket after you’ve arrived.

With this option you run the risk that your full purchase price won’t be refunded, or that you’ll get dinged with fees. And then there is the hassle factor of needing to chase after refunds.

Forge a travel confirmation

This is the solution advocated most often on travel message boards and by various bloggers. The suggestion is that you can download an old travel confirmation, edit it to include new dates and destinations, and then use your forged travel document to satisfy questions about your travel plans.

This is the kind of thing that probably seems brilliant to twenty-year-old backpackers but likely seems increasingly less wise with each passing birthday. At 43 I can say with certainty we won’t be trying to pass off forged travel documents in an attempt to circumvent immigration rules, regardless of how asinine those rules happen to be.

I’m not even certain that this strategy still works. Some people have recently reported being denied boarding passes after the ticket agent failed to pull up a confirmation on their terminal.

And then there is the small matter that providing immigration officials with false travel documents is a crime that can land you in prison. There’s probably little risk in handing your fake itinerary to an airline ticket agent, but I wouldn’t try using it with a border control officer.

Just buy a ticket to your next destination

Simply arranging your onward travel is the most straightforward of all options and the one most likely to succeed every single time it’s tried. It is also the one requiring the most advance planning and is by far the most restricting.

We hate the idea of having to decide ahead of time how long we’ll stay somewhere and where exactly we’ll leave from. But we hate the idea of being denied entry into our next destination even more.

Going forward we’ll probably use a combination of the first and the fourth options. In places notorious for requiring proof of onward travel like Thailand and – ahem, Great Britain, we’ll probably bite the bullet and book a flight to our next destination. Everywhere else we’ll probably play the odds and just give ourselves some extra time at the airport in case we need to hurry up and purchase a last-minute ticket – refundable of course.

That’s all for now from Bali! See you in November 🙂