Your trip is cancelled.

Picture this: life is perfect, you’re enjoying the best trip of your life, you’ve booked a really cheap one way ticket; or a great deal using points and you’re ready to discover your next destination. But as you check in for your flight, you’re asked a simple question: “may I see your return flight?”.  If the answer is no, you may not be going anywhere at all, forced instead to spend big on a last minute ticket, or abandon current travel plans. Here’s what you need to know to avoid this sticky flight situation…

Playing The Onward Flights Game

When you play the points and miles, or savvy travel cheap flight game, sometimes you just buy one way tickets. Maybe you know availability using points only opens up a few days in advance, or you’re not quite sure when you plan to leave the next city, but either way you don’t have an onward ticket. The same story rings true for the amazing flight deals we’re seeing, with one way flights to Europe often under $150!  One way tickets create amazing flexibility, but if you don’t do a little bit of research, they can also create serious headache.

Proof Of Leave

Some countries, in fact – many countries, demand proof of exit before your arrival. The UK, US, New Zealand, Indonesia, Brazil and Peru are particular sticklers on this subject. Let’s say you’re in Australia, having an amazing time and want to hop over to New Zealand for a side trip. You’ll need proof of a flight departing the country before you’ll be allowed to board. If you can’t come up with one in time for your flight, you’ll be stranded. Naturally, last minute flights are painfully expensive, and being forced to quickly scrounge around the internet to find a quick ticket out can set you back a whole lot more than hoped.

What To Do

It’s imperative to check any proof of leave, or onward travel restrictions well in advance of your travels. Some countries are quite relaxed about these policies, while other countries will simply deny boarding with no compensation. Using resources such as the U.S. State Department Travel website, or UK Foreign Travel Advice website help to reference each country you plan to visit, and are a great first step. On simple round trip flights booked at once, you’ll be just fine, but if you aren’t quite sure how to play it and don’t have a current onward flight, there are still a few very good options.

Onward Travel Tips

You must always stay within your visa allowance visit limitations, but if you’re not quite sure when you’ll leave within that time frame, there are a couple easy ways to show proof of the onward travel required. If you have points, you can book a ticket with points, paying just a minor fee to cancel. Many airlines charge $35 or less to cancel, making this a relatively small investment for a lot of flexibility! Just be sure to check cancellation policy. If points are not in the equation, buying fully refundable airline or train ticket on your credit card is the next best option. These tickets are incredibly expensive, but since you’ll cancel for a full refund, you actually spend nothing. Other than that, your last option is to book the cheapest onward cash ticket you can find, to a place you may or may not actually go to.