Avoiding international flight departure requirements for tourist travel is easy and essentially free with this budget trick and loophole we’ve found through our years of travel trial and error.
Many travelers know that feeling of frustration associated with dealing with a dreaded mandatory exit flight from a country as a Visa requirement for international travel. Most of us have been there, and know that plans change and that you never know where the adventure may take you. Booking an exit flight can be burdensome, frustrating, and incur cancelled or change flight fees and hassle. What if you’re driving or traveling by bus to another country, what if you’re not sure which airport you will depart from or the exact date you may want to leave within your tourist visa time frame?
What if we told you that you Never Have to Pay for an Exit Flight Again and here’s how:
Websites like Priceline.com and Expedia.com (among others) have a 24 hour cancellation policy for flight bookings. You can take advantage of this by booking the cheapest flight from the country of origin, where your tourist visa requires exit documentation, to any other country, and then simply cancelling this reservation within 24 hours.
Book your “Exit” flight as closely to check in for your international travel as possible. If you’re entering the country by flight, you will be asked for this documentation when checking in at the airport. We always book our “return/exit” flights either before leaving our hotel for the airport or as soon as we arrive at the airport. This gives us well over 20 hours to cancel out flight after providing our documentation to airport security or airline officials.
If traveling into a new country by boat or land transportation, the same thing applies: book as closely to your border crossing as possible, and wait to cancel your flight until you’ve made it past all security checkpoints where documentation is needed.
Canceling your flight is easiest if you have an account set up with Priceline.com or Expedia.com or whichever provider you are using who offers free cancelation. Upon cancellation you might receive a notification saying you need to call the airline to complete your cancellation transaction however, wait an hour or so and refresh your account and you should find that they have processed this transaction. In the event that you do need to call the travel agency, and international or toll free number should be provided
What if I plan on exiting the country by another means of transportation? Is this documentation really necessary?
Our thoughts exactly! Unfortunately the answer is still yes. Countries with strict tourist visa requirements such as the United States require a round trip ticket to be purchased in order to allow entry into the country. Many travelers may enjoy arriving in one country traveling throughout and then continuing on to their next destination by car across a border, such as going from the United States into Canada or Mexico but border patrol does not allow this method of proof, regardless of hotel/accomodation bookings, bus/train fares, or other proof of exit plans.
Always check travel requirements online.
The easiest way to find out the visa requirements for another country is by going online to the consulate or embassy website for the country you plan to travel to and reading the entry FAQ. You may also call the embassy or visit the embassy or consulate for that country in your own country prior to traveling.
Apply for your Visa with plenty of time before travel.
Applying for a tourist Visa to visit a foreign country can be an easy online verification, such as we experienced for Australia or the U.S. (depending on your country of residence and citizenship) or can be difficult to obtain such as we found to be the case with China. Always make sure you plan ahead and know what is required of you for entry into a new country to ensure you aren’t left stranded at a border city, or paying for expedited services to get your visa approved.
Always have extra visa photos and an extra copy of your passport with you when you travel.
It is much easier to have extra photos already with you and ready for a tourist visa application rather than scrambling to have them done while traveling. We always recommend have 2 – 4 extra photos with you for your visa applications. Many applications will require two photos for their documentation, and you don’t always get one of those back. While you can find inexpensive photo stores that will offer travel photos along your travels it can be a stressful process, confusing requirements, or language barriers and obstacles. You should also keep at least one extra photo copy of your passport with you in case you misplace your passport, or in the event that you need a copy to attach to a tourist visa application.
The Consulate or Embassy wants to take my passport on hold while they process my tourist Visa, now what do I do?
Some country’s consulate may take your passport for multiple days while they approve your travel visa, this is why we recommend you apply for a visa while in your home country if possible to avoid being left without proper identification. As was the case with our tour visas for China, we found that it took quite a lot of paperwork and two trips to the consulate to complete the process, which included leaving our passports at the consulate for 5 days while they processed and approved our visas. This is why we recommend you allow for plenty of time to orchestrate trips to a consulate, or a service provider to handle the application for you. Online agencies will do these processes for you for a (usually exorbatant) extra fee. While waiting at the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco during our visa application we saw several agency representatives bring bags of over a hundred passports and applications at once, waiting in line and dropping them off for their customers. This can be convenient if you don’t have the hours to drive, wait, and return like we did, but again it is not without a price tag.