Bridging the Pacific

Days: 1-2         

Total distance travelled: 12,653 kilometres (7,859.01 miles)

Friday 27th June 2015 (we lived the same day twice)

So our grand adventure is upon us, and the morning of Friday, June 27th saw us depart Melbourne on a somewhat circuitous, United Airlines route to San Francisco.

From Australia to the United States

From Australia to the United States

With 2 hours in Sydney before the grand leg of this journey (Sarah & I would both prefer any stopovers to be at the start of any long haul), it seemed somewhat fitting, that our last glimpse of home would be one of the worlds most iconic bridges, as we cross the Pacific to a city that is home to another, the Golden Gate.

But as is often the case with adventures (or misadventures), things do not always go according to plan…

A parting shot from home (coincidentally the same place we climbed a couple of weeks earlier)

A parting shot from home (coincidentally the same place we climbed a couple of weeks earlier)

At about 9:30 that morning however, things didn’t seem as rosy.

Moments earlier, we’d stood at the head of the check-in queue, eagerly awaiting our turn at the counter (happy to be rid of our packs for awhile at least), and seconds later our turn came… and passed!

They wouldn’t allow us to check in! It played out something like this (our side of the conversation in Italics):

“You don’t have a return ticket?”

“No, we’re traveling down through Mexico”

“For an ESTA waiver, you need an onwards ticket, or they won’t let you in the country (therefore we can’t let you board the plane)”

“But our bus to Mexico is on the 5th?”

“The US does not consider Canada or Mexico outside of their region”

“Well what can we do?”

“There is a travel agent around the corner if you want to quickly go and book something?”

“How long do we have?”

“An hour”

“Can we book something ourselves online?”


So it passed, that we scrambled our way online, searching for the cheapest ticket possible that we could hopefully refund or transfer, but worst case scenario, ultimately use as well (turns out a flight from the Yucatan to Guatemala City is what we now possess. Thanks Aeromexico!)

The bottom line is, we were able to check in, and despite Sarah’s fears that we would still be turned around at US immigration, two bleary eyed, rather old backpackers have now made it onto North America, ready to start this new journey!

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7 Responses to Bridging the Pacific

  1. Hi Chris: I’m glad you made it onto the plane. that’s where booking via an experienced travel agent can be a really good thing. They know about these little things that we don’t! Enjoy discovering North America!

    • Chris says:

      This particular flight was booked for us through our former employer. We did try to read up on it in advance, however it wasn’t clear that Canada or Mexico wouldn’t count as departing the US!

      Oh well, we survived! 🙂

  2. traciehowe says:

    Phew! Close call! Travel to the U.S. is a huge pain. Even for Americans!

  3. Chris, that IS a rough start to your journey. We’ve encountered the same thing several times and now go prepared with onward tickets. Our approach is to buy the cheapest or refundable ticket, and then deal with it when the time comes. So glad that everything worked out. 🙂 ~Terri

    • Chris says:

      Yeah, that’ll be what we do going forward!

      Because we were so rushed, we went for a cheap option in the off chance that we can’t refund it!

      Hopefully sort that out in the coming days in La Paz (Baja)!

  4. Pingback: Our Monthly Wrap #9: 27 February 2015 – 26 March 2015 | theworldwithchrisandsarah

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