A few odd years ago, I was sitting in my dad’s truck as he was driving me to St. Louis for a flight to Mexico.
Normally, I would just take a train to Chicago to catch a flight back to Mexico but, for whatever reason that escapes me right now, we had to drive to St. Louis for the flight back.
The trip was memorable for a few reasons.
For one, it was kinda nice to have some time trying to connect with my dad in whatever way I could.
As funny as it sounds, our time eating at some Apple Bees was probably one of the most memorable moments I had with him in a very long time.
What happened during that lunch?
Nothing except a normal conversation.
Just basic chitchat.
And that was nice to have.
But, outside of that, there was flight drama.
Along the ride over to St. Louis, we got a call saying that the flight was cancelled and were given various options to choose from to pick a different flight departure time.
Then we got to the airport to settle issues.
Standing in a very long line full of people confused (including some skiing bros who had some flight somewhere cancelled to compete in some competition), we probably waited almost an hour at most to get to the front desk.
Between my dad and I, he’s probably better at casual talk with someone and getting them to like you for the hope that they’ll work with you.
Granted, given his line of work, he probably has enough experience talking with people to get them to feel comfortable with you.
And so he handled the work of talking with this lady at the desk trying to get the airline to cover what they can for the unexpected changes.
Ultimately, they did cover our hotel for the night and some food expenses.
At the hotel anyway, I remember getting my key card for my hotel room from some very cute black chicks at the front desk.
Have you ever heard a young black gal with big tits speak in a strong southern accent?
Sexy as fuck.
Then the next morning came.
My dad was already back in Iowa by that time and I got to the airport to get through security and all that.
As I was dicking around with some machine by the front desk to print out some tickets, some airline agent walked up to me to ask if I needed help with anything.
The machine seemed to not be working well or at the very least it was lagging.
So she took me over to some other machine.
And that one was working just fine.
Anyway, I remember I ultimately had to give them some suitcase before going through security.
That was where some minor issue came up.
Though ultimately it was resolved because I came a little bit prepared.
The issue being?
Well, they asked me “when would I be returning to the US?”
And wanted proof of return.
At that point, I pulled out some piece of paper showing a bus ticket from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to El Paso, Texas.
Initially, they were not convinced.
“But sir, you need a flight out of the country to prove when you are leaving” they said.
“But why? This bus ticket shows I’m leaving the country on this date.”
In the moment, they were basically trying to get me to purchase another ticket out of the country back into the US.
Out of concern that I am not prepared to travel abroad without it.
Either way, I came up with some BS lie about how “well, I got family in Ciudad Juarez and I’ll be visiting them. That’s why I only got a bus ticket out of the country and not a flight out.”
At that moment, the lady behind the counter gave in and accepted my bus ticket out of Mexico as proof as of leaving the country.
It wasn’t really much of an argument between us but a little bit of discussion was had.
And ultimately the bus ticket worked.
She took the suitcase.
I carried on towards security.
And that was it.
It’s simply a story with a few small travel tips for those thinking of living or traveling to Latin America.
For one, always know that airlines and sometimes migration agents in the country you are traveling to will want proof that you have bought some flight out of the country you are going to.
Ideally proof of return to the country you are from.
And especially if you don’t have residency in the country you are traveling to.
For most people, I can’t imagine this is an issue since most folks who travel abroad are only doing so for tourism and do know when they need to be back home for work after their vacation or whatever.
However, for those pesky digital nomad types who don’t always have firm plans with their travels, I imagine it’s a stronger issue.
Either way, in the moment that you are asked for proof of return, you might find yourself being told to buy a ticket RIGHT NOW at the airport.
Meaning they want you to buy what is likely an overpriced ticket in the moment to give the airline a little bit more cash.
As if these airlines don’t already have lots of money pouring through and a government to bail them out in times of need.
Regardless, it’s something to remember when traveling abroad.
Have some proof of leaving the country you are going to (ideally back home but it doesn’t need to be necessarily).
Second, what works as sufficient proof of leaving the country?
For Mexico, I’ve always gone with the bus ticket from Ciudad Juarez to El Paso.
Even though I have never been to either city above ironically enough.
So bus tickets can work and they have for me every single time but, once in a blue moon, you might get questioned about them.
Still, flight tickets do work better.
Thankfully, as you might know already, those flight tickets can be cancelled afterwards if they don’t line well with your actual plans.
Finally, what about the migration agents at the airport?
In my time traveling to 30 countries so far, I have never been asked for a return ticket from a migration agent anywhere in the world.
However, as I wrote here, Mexico specifically is changing with their agents asking for return tickets more commonly these days from visitors.
So it can happen!
I can only talk about my own experiences anyhow.
Every single time I have been questioned about a return ticket has been with an airline employee.
Never a migration agent.
But, as you can see in the article linked above, it can happen from a migration agent and does happen plenty of times in other countries too actually.
So just keep that in mind – just because you got around the flight agent doesn’t mean you got past the migration agent at the airport in the country you are going to.
Either way, that’s all I got to say.
Just some basic tips for those thinking of traveling abroad.
Don’t forget to have that proof of traveling onwards!
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Thanks for reading.