20 August 2018

Do You Need Proof Of Onward Travel While Travelling Long-Term?

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

If you've been backpacking around multiple countries or have travelled long-term, then you'll have probably asked this question yourself or to others at least once. 

It's one of those travel questions that doesn't really have a definitive answer, leading you to panic that you could be turned away at the border or refused access to your plane. 

I was definitely one of those people. 

As someone who a) had never backpacked before and b) not flown longer than 4 hours to a destination, I felt completely clueless when it came to this. 

When we were leaving for New Zealand, it wasn't really clear when I looked online about whether we would need a flight out of the country and so we decided to chance it. However, when we arrived at Heathrow at 5am for check-in, we were presented with the question, "Do you have onward travel out of New Zealand?".

Before we knew it, we were looking frantically on our phones to book a flight to Bali for just over a month later. 

Luckily, I had planned out our New Zealand road trip so that I had a pretty good idea when and where we would finish up so within 10 minutes we had our flight booked and we were checking in for our adventure of a lifetime. 

Now, I have heard many different stories of what some people have resorted to, to solve this problem so that they can keep spontaneous without committing to an expensive flight out of the country. 

Some people try and use bus tickets to show they'll be crossing by land, but I've heard this one can sometimes be unreliable.

Some even forge a flight ticket to make it look like they have a flight booked out of the country. 

One positive, if you are planning a trip at the moment, is that there is a lot more reliable info out there as to whether you need onward travel than a couple of years ago, but I'll tell you one thing. 

I had decided that we would try and book an outbound flight for each country as we went along, and would check the relevant government pages to see what they said. 

99% of the time, they said they wanted proof of onward travel but this was only enforced in 2 out of the 7 countries we visited. 

Can you see how this can confuse travellers? 

I do understand why they have to do this, to tackle illegal immigrants coming across their borders, but I personally wished that we could have spent longer in some places without knowing we had a deadline to leave in the back of our minds.

Luckily, the two that required proof of onward travel (New Zealand and Thailand) were the first and last countries we were visiting, so that worked out well. 

I've also heard that mainly, as a rule, if you're travelling locally around Southeast Asia, countries will happily accept pre-booked bus and train tickets as they know that is a preferred way to travel there.

Out of all the options that there are, the two that I would definitely use again if travelling long-term, regardless of where I'm going are these:


This option is probably the more reliable out of the two. Pick the cheapest ticket to a major city in the country next door, regardless of whether you'll be using it. 

True, you will be losing £20 or £30 on a ticket you won't use, but this will buy you a bit more time before you decide when you want to move on to your next destination. 


This is one option that I'll definitely be trying out when I next travel long-term. 

This is the slightly riskier option, so do your homework about a company first before using them. 

Essentially, you 'rent' a legit flight ticket from a real travel agency for a small fee. Then, they cancel the ticket for you 48 hours later, meaning you are free to book your onward journey at a later date. 


The important thing to remember is to do your own research and decide what is best for you.

You might feel that you like the stability and reassurance of having an exact time to move on to your next destination, or you might be free-spirited and want to see where the wind takes you. 

Either way, make sure you are not putting yourself in danger of being turned away at the border, because it'll be a lot more expensive having to return to the country you just left just to buy an outbound flight.  



  1. Excellent advice! It is important to do the research and book onward tickets if required.

    - Aditi

  2. Great post! I've always wanted to travel but never really researched into it or knew what I needed to do to move on from one place to another, until now anyway!

    Kate | cakeandcoast.com

  3. This is really useful! I'd not thought about onward travel so this really helps!

    Megan | https://meganelizabethlifestyle.com/