Arriving at Sydney International Airport I was excited. After months of planning, it was finally time to leave the country and explore the WORLD! Well the United States of America anyway. This is when we hit a roadblock.
Our plan from the beginning was to “overland” as much of our adventure as possible to reduce expenses. From the US, our plan was to buy a bus ticket into Mexico and never look back. Unfortunately for US Immigration, this is not sufficient evidence of onward travel. Evidence must determine that the visitor is leaving not just the USA but also Mexico, Canada and the Caribbean Islands.
Hawaiian Airlines was very aggressive in ensuring I purchased a return ticket to Australia regardless of my future plans to travel before they would even issue my boarding pass leaving me a little frustrated and a lot less excited about my pending departure.
Then we met someone I won’t mention (in case their efforts are viewed as unethical by the wrong people) that saved me a considerable amount of money and returned me to the excited, “I’m leaving the country” person I prefer to be.
This person explained the ESTA requirements I had misinterpreted and also explained a return ticket to Australia would not be necessary. All I had to do was book a one way trip to anywhere outside of the USA which would give me the evidence I required. I could then cancel the flight for a full refund. No one would be the wiser.
In all, the exercise cost me AUD $55 in cancellation fees and I was allowed to board my flight bound for Hawaii and everyone was a winner. Interestingly, on entering the US, I asked an immigration officer about entering Mexico and if that would affect my 90 day USA visa and he advised me – no, Mexico is a different country…
To be safe, Justin and I have decided to fly to Guatemala, ensuring our visa guidelines are met. We do plan to return to the US at some point and visa dramas are not something we are keen on. It will also roughly save us more than 30 hours in bus transport from the US border to Mexico City as we can re-enter Mexico from Guatemala to visit anywhere we may have missed.
If you are planning a trip like ours, ensure you have proof of onward travel to avoid extra expenses that are unnecessary and to secure your boarding pass out of the country. Happy and safe travels!
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