Let’s be real, everyone and their mother wants to travel, but they allow excuse after excuse to stop them. Traveling around the world is an adventure that nothing can ever compare to and everyone should experience it. Even more so, buying a one way ticket and never looking back. Your excuse may be that it’s not the right time or that it’s too expensive, but with a bit of preparation you can soon be on your way to another country, or even continent.
Over the summer, I booked a one way ticket to Sweden without even thinking about it for more than a few minutes. Let me rephrase that, I bought a one way ticket with a strict 90-day countdown to leave my life behind in the United States. I had to break my apartment lease, sell everything in my apartment, my car, finalize a divorce, quit my job, and save enough money to fly back home in case of an emergency while overseas. I spent my entire summer working my ass off and staying home every weekend, do I regret it? Not a single bit. Mind you, I’ve never purchased a one way ticket before this… or even been alone on a flight to another country, but there’s quite a few things I’ve learned during this time that will be helpful to anyone thinking of living a life of travel:
Research Visa Requirements
Depending what country your passport is issued from can determine how long you’re allowed to stay in certain countries. Did you know if you carry a U.S. passport that you’re not even able to enter Vietnam without applying for a visa beforehand? If you are planning to stay in a country longer than your passport allows, it’s best to have a friend with you to review the visa requirements to extend your stay. I overlooked a simple requirement to extend my stay in Sweden from 90 days to 180.
The U.S. Passports & International Travel website can answer almost all your questions about vaccinations and stay duration for all countries. This is useful for those traveling with a U.S. passport.
Traveling with a passport of another country? No worries! Travelscope provides general passport and visa information for any country that you are a citizen of.
Be Flexible when Purchasing a One Way Ticket
This is for those who would like to save a bit, or actually a lot, of money when traveling. For example, flights on Saturdays are the most expensive. Leaving just a few days later could be half the price. Flying from and to larger airports is also a huge money saving tactic. Being from St. Louis, I always looked into flying out of Chicago instead. Personally, I find Google Flights to be the most helpful website when booking and researching travel plans. It provides a map that shows flight prices to anywhere in the world. This tool not only shows where you can go for cheaper, but it also may open your mind to places you never even thought of visiting before. Another useful asset that Google Flights provides is their price graph. It shows the prices of flights for the upcoming months. Using these two tools can easily save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Make a Checklist
Save yourself some future stress and write it all down. The most simple way to organize a checklist is to divide it into a time frame. What can you start doing now versus what has to be handled two weeks before you leave. For starters, you may need to sell belongings, schedule a doctor’s visit, close or open a bank account, find accommodation, renew your passport, or setup a forwarding address for your mail.
One Way Ticket = More Documents to Acquire
When traveling to Sweden, I packed my entire life with me: clothes, alcohol, and important documents. Not only did I need my life documents, because well, it’s my life, but I also prepared a few extra papers to carry. Better say than sorry, but sometimes traveling on a one way ticket may cause some questions to arise. Here’s my list of what I brought, which I would say is standard if you are a U.S. citizen:
- Birth Certificate
- Social Security Card
- Driver’s License
- Marriage License
- Divorce Certification
- Bank Statements (past 2 months)
Keep in mind, you may need less or more. I brought my marriage/divorce papers to provide proof of either my maiden name or married name. This is because many of my documents are signed with different last names. Maybe you need your vaccination records for the country you’re traveling to or proof of onward travel. I didn’t have any issues arise with having a one way ticket, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Most importantly, absolutely do not wait until the last second. I made this mistake with attempting to update my driver’s license to my correct last name. I waited until about a week before my flight, only to find out they send the license in the mail. Which unfortunately, could take about 3 weeks to receive. It’s also impossible to forward that to another country, or sadly, my parents house. In the end, I was given a temporary paper license that’s valid for only a month. It has my correct last name at least! Anything dealing with the state or federal government, I would plan at least 2-3 months to get it taken care of.