Fast Fred Travels - Proof of Onward Travel Issues

Fast Fred Travels - Budget & Travel Tips for Ecuador
Tips for Planning Your International Trip and Staying on Budget

I am Fast Fred Ruddock a wandering guide enjoying endless summers

What is Onward Travel? Why Do I Need Proof?

Onward Travel Enforcement By Airlines And Customs

Some might be asking why would anyone fly without a round trip ticket? There are several reasons people might not purchase round-trip or return tickets. This list is not exhaustive.

* A digital nomad or perpetual traveler
* Unsure about your travel plans
* Applying for a visa

Often your biggest problem flying without proof of onward travel is your airline denying you boarding. This in fact happened to me in Guatemala City when trying to fly with Copa Airlines. Bus tickets are often not accepted for proof of onward travel so be careful. I often travel between Latin American countries by bus. My travel itinerary is also very loose between when I finish my season of raft guiding and safety kayaking and starting the next one. I often travel for six to seven months at a time.

So here's some back story to give this discussion more context

I had flown successfully many times with no proof onward travel. Generally not even asked or able to explain the situation to satisfy the ticket counter or gate agent. Only once have I been asked for proof and that was in Peru during the pandemic. I was fortunate to have an onward ticket that trip to Peru as I had many expiring travel credits with JetBlue so I bought an extra ticket six months into the future as well as another I actually used to return from Ecuador.

Why it might be wise to have an onward ticket and my lesson learned

As those of you that follow me know I live and travel frugally. So as I waited to board my flight from Guatemala to Ecuador I was in the last group to board. When I presented my passport and boarding pass I was asked for proof of onward travel. This was a first as I have never seen this done at time of boarding. I have seen folks called to the gate desk an hour before boarding to check such documents but never at the last moment.

As my window of time was closing rapidly I tried to gain some proof of onward travel with my phone. Spoiler alert I made mistakes and I am going to share them with you. I will also share what to do to avoid the same pitfalls. I was under the mistaken assumption all airline tickets to or from the USA could be canceled and refunded within 24 hours. I was mistaken. You must buy the ticket directly from the airline to gain this protection AND they can charge you fees for the booking and refund processes. In the past I was only refunded credits for example for flights they canceled but that's another story. Buyer beware.

In my case I foolishly used Hotwire a third party aggregator I had used for a couple decades in the past. They once had a policy that you could get a full refund within 24 hours of booking. That absolutely is not the case now! You likely can't even adjust or change a ticket if you make a mistake during booking. I am swearing off third party aggregators going forward. I actually knew about onwardticket.com but was greedy and wanted to get a full refund of my onward ticket.

After learning these lessons the hard way I have a new strategy going forward. When buying tickets I actually plan to use I will buy them directly from an airline. When I just need proof of onward travel for my airline or customs I will use onwardticket.com and consider it an insurance policy. This proof of travel only costs $14 or $15 in most cases for 48 hours or $31 or $33 and they expire without any further action from you. The high charge is incurred for direct tickets that may spare you from other visa requirements in connection countries. it is also possible to plan in advance with delayed tickets but I am not sure that is really necessary.

So in closing my my screw up cost me $280 for a ticket I am highly unlikely to use. That's a lot of money for a river guide like me. It's a good think I enjoy cooking my own frugal meals. If you find this information useful or want to do a brother a solid please consider dropping some coins in my tip jar.

Colorful checken bus in Panajachel Guatemala at 4:30 AM

Got Questions About This Travel Hack or Channel?

If you are planing a visit to Ecuador and have any questions about the logistics please feel free to reach out or leave comments below. I am always happy to help. I strive to support the local economy and especially the local Ecuadorian owned businesses

You can also use these same services in reverse to catch a bus to the airport on your way back home. Learn more here https://www.aeropuertoquito.aero/es/guia-de-transporte.html


I primarily travel solo but you don't have to to enjoy this channel. Working as a river guide during summers in North America I don't earn a lot of money and live close to the federal poverty level. In spite of this I live a rich life on a frugal budget. If you would like to learn more about traveling in Latin America or maybe frugal travel tips visit Fast Fred Travels and if you would like to come rafting with me check out Fast Fred Rafts for details.