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What troubles have you faced while traveling?


by @acdc | 5yr  | 8 comments

Almost got caught out very badly the other week and looking for advice.

Visa
30 day visa free entry. Went to check-in at the airport, staff wanted to see a departure ticket. Thankfully I had already booked a flight out (this is often not the case, Philippines are basically flight-only options though) however due to leaving Australia I had no SIM card in my phone. Thus no 3g, or access to the itinerary. It was with the same airline however they couldnโ€™t look it up (given the complete lack of competence this probably is true). Thankfully the airport had wifi and I managed to eventually load up an email after some stressful minutes. A number of airports only have wifi near the gates not out in departures too. If I couldnโ€™t load up the ticket she literally wasnโ€™t going to let us on the flight. Wtf. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnamโ€ฆ all places I have been, had no exit flight/transit booked because was going over land, and train/bus tickets in a lot of countries arenโ€™t readily available online. None of them have ever cared.

Is this usual or was this chick just nuts? Of course when we arrived customs didnโ€™t care at all, โ€œwhen are you leaving, where to?โ€ and that was it. How many Australians exactly are smuggling themselves to live illegally in the Philippines, especially with only 7kg of luggage? Come onโ€ฆ

Money
We finally arrive Manila at 1am. Literally no ATM works. 3 different cards with 3 different banks, half a dozen ATMsโ€ฆ nothing, all โ€œerror communicatingโ€/some generic message. By this stage we were attracting a fair bit of attention having wandered the airport trying every ATM, our only saving grace was $30 I still had in cash that I exchanged at a booth, which was enough to get a taxi to accommodation 5km away. Next morning found an ATM nearby, stomach full of nervesโ€ฆ worked perfectly. We used 2x cards, both worked first go. Same bank as one of the airport ones. God knows why they didnโ€™t work at the airport (well, insert a nothing ever works or is done properly in the Philippines joke here), however I havenโ€™t read much about people carrying much cash. It seems like we should always have $100 - or more if an expensive country - in case this ever happens again? Even though I canโ€™t think of why this even happened in the first place. All the money in the world wonโ€™t help if you canโ€™t get your hands on it :frowning:

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@grum | 5yr

To avoid duplication of topics, the return-ticket visa issue already is being discussed at the below topic:

https://nomadlist.com/forum/t/do-you-always-have-an-onward-air-ticket-when-entering-a-new-country/
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@grum | 5yr

First time in Asia? These are very common issues.

Departure ticket checks are normal. If you enter a country without the necessary documentation, the country forces the airline to fly you home. Carriers (esp LCC) donโ€™t like giving freebies and will happily force someone to jump through hoops. Hypothetically if you couldnโ€™t get the proof, most carriers have alternative measures - whether or not they want to be bothered doing those is a different story.

Failed ATMs are a common thing too. Most well-traveled nomads keep 5xUS$20 on them just in case stuff like this happens. Australian cards operate under the Mestro/Cirrus/Visa/Mastercard network and many countries operate on different networks.

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@acdc | 5yr

I spent a few months here last year. As mentioned Iโ€™ve never had an airline refuse unless I showed actual proof of departure. Land travel is very common and cannot be โ€œjust booked onlineโ€. Heck, most of it you canโ€™t even pay by card! Itโ€™s simply impossible to always provide proof, for example many people do Thailand/Cambodia/Laos/Vietnam via land.

I have Mastercard & Visa. The ATMs all had the logos on it, and it worked fine at a different atm (same bank) the next day so not sure. Thinking $100USD might be worth keeping on hand just in case it happens again.

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@grum | 5yr

Common sense often doesnโ€™t doesnโ€™t apply when crossing international borders. Actually, common sense doesnโ€™t apply to travel in general. Rules either change, are made up on the spot or misinterpreted. In the end though, itโ€™s never impossible to provide proof - as a traveler you are expected to obtain this before you try to enter certain countries. In some instances, these artificial rules are in place to force you to bribe.

Also, land travel is available to be booked online Thailand/Cambodia/Laos/Vietnam. That excuse doesnโ€™t fly anymore. We arenโ€™t in the 80s.

Weโ€™re lucky that theyโ€™re accepting emails stored on phones these days - rewind a couple of years and printouts were the only forms accepted. Heck, when I tried leaving Australia a year ago, I had issues with an official who wouldnโ€™t let me turn on my phone to provide proof as it was against the rules to operate โ€˜photographic equipment in a secure areaโ€™.

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@acdc | 5yr

When I said โ€œproofโ€ I meant โ€œsomething that can be actually validatedโ€. If weโ€™re talking a word doc you could fake in 2 mins, sure can always make that up. In Vietnam we couldnโ€™t book any tickets except from the physical location, i.e., if you want HCMC->Nha Trang->Hanoi it was impossible. You can only reserve NhaTrang->Hanoi leg from the office in NhaTrang. You bought the whole ticket but no date, no time. Has no more worth than โ€œyeah man take our word that weโ€™re going to depart your country by bus!โ€.

Thanks for that thread. It seems my experience was unusual, untrained staff perhaps. Canโ€™t see anyone else who had the โ€œif you donโ€™t show a ticket youโ€™re literally not getting on the planeโ€ ultimatum. Most have waivers saying youโ€™ll pay your own way back etc which makes sense.

Ah yes Australian customs, nazi was on the case once however other times everyone is on their phone!

Edit: And yes, the irony of it all. Iโ€™m a perfectionist who overplans to the max, when I try and โ€˜go with the flowโ€™ it nearly always blows up even though seemingly itโ€™s fine for most others to rock up with no plans. Certainly need to get used to being frustrated!

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@grum | 5yr

Proof is determined by the officials and isnโ€™t a specific thing. As mentioned in that other thread, people have used fake itineraries, TripIt apps, booked flights they never intend to board etc. The likelihood of them being able to validate the proof with the carrier on the spot is likely to be zero unless they have a pre-existing relationship with the carrier.

In some cases, the mere fact that the traveler had a Lonely Planet for the next country in their bag was enough proof. They are just following rules to the best of their ability, in the hopes that travelers slip up or act suspicious enough to warrant a refusal/official interview.

Also, I can get you a bus or train ticket from NhaTrang->Hanoi right now for US$80 odd - and get you an actual confirmation with a date and a time. Vietnam isnโ€™t that far in the dark ages :wink: Although it is a 20 to 26 hour trip. Yuck.

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@acdc | 5yr

We paid $40 USD for HCMC->Hanoi sleeper buses with stopovers in the middle wherever you wanted.
Double the price for half the distance, theyโ€™re probably a bit closer to 2015 then some others :wink:
Not that Iโ€™ll be voluntarily going on a โ€œsleeperโ€ bus again any time soon. Pretty much always made the next day a total write off, so tired.

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@mrwhite | 5yr

Every flight I had out of Australia I have been checked on my onward ticket. It seems to be a thing there.

Some usd is also cheap to exchange if you donโ€™t want to take out cash on credit card.

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