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Proof Of Onward Travel

How to provide proof of onward travel when travelling on a one-way ticket.

Date: June 2019

“Can I please see Proof of Onward Travel?”

For someone travelling on a one-way ticket, this sweat-inducing request can come anytime from either an airline during check-in, or an immigration officer, when entering a country.

The need to provide proof of onward travel, when journeying to a country, is the curse of the modern, nomadic traveller who travels with no fixed plan or schedule.

Whilst most countries are happy to welcome visitors, none are happy if you overstay your welcome and, increasingly, immigration officials want to know you have a confirmed departure date.

If, when asked, you are unable to show proof of onward travel, airlines can refuse to board you and immigration officers can refuse to admit you.

For almost all conventional travellers, who travel with return tickets or have onward flights, this requirement presents no problems.

However, for the tiny percentage of nomadic, meandering souls (especially backpackers), who wish to remain free from the constraints of a planned itinerary and hop around the planet using one-way tickets, this requirement can be onerous.

How to remain flexible, with a fluid itinerary, while satisfying a requirement which forces you to commit to a firm departure date?

One ‘travel hack‘ is provided by Expedia.com who offer a free 24-hour cancellation window on certain tickets, depending on the carrier.

If, for example, you’re flying into the Philippines (a country which has enshrined ‘Proof of Onward Travel’ into their immigration laws), but you don’t wish to commit to a departure date (so many nice beaches), you can use Expedia to search for one-way flights out of the Philippines and book a flight which is highlighted ‘Free Cancel w/in 24 hrs‘ (as indicated below).

The Expedia 'Free Cancel' option.

The Expedia ‘Free Cancel’ option.

After purchasing your ticket, Expedia will email you your itinerary and e-ticket which you can then provide as proof of onward travel to anyone who asks.

It’s best to purchase such a ticket just before you depart for your destination.

Of course, this hack only works provided you will have entered your destination within 24 hours of ticket purchase – beyond that, you will be penalised for any changes or cancellation. 

Once you have gained entry into your destination, you can then cancel the ticket using the ‘Cancel Flight‘ option in the itinerary.

The 'Cancel Flight' option can be found in your Expedia itinerary.

The ‘Cancel Flight’ option can be found in your Expedia itinerary.

Once you select the ‘Cancel Flight’ option, you’ll receive a full refund, which will be credited back to the same credit card used to make the booking.

And now you are free to continue on your meandering way…

That’s the end of this post. I hope it has provided you with some useful information which can be used next time you need to book an onward flight. 

Safe Travels!


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Author: Darren McLean

A perpetual traveller, photographer, travel writer and owner of taste2travel, a website which aims to inspire wanderlust.

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