It was back in 2010 that my first real trip took place, sure I had been on family trips to France and Spain during the school holidays – but this was different…I was heading off to the USA, for a whole year…by myself. Now, I wouldn’t blink at this kind of thing, but back then I was absolutely shitting my pants (literally – well almost literally – but that’s err…another…err, listen forget I said anything!), anyway yes, I was nervous. So while I was on my way to the airport I felt like I had made the wrong decision; safe to say I was running a lot of “what ifs?” through my mind…

What if I bought the wrong tickets? What if there are problems with the visa? What if the plane crashes? What if I was unwittingly used as a drugs mule? What if there are only recent Adam Sandler films to choose from while in flight?!

But despite all of this, I said my tearful goodbyes, began to check all my luggage in, and awaited the sexual harassment by hired strangers with rubber gloves. So far so good. But it was when I got through the first round of customs and passport checks, that I realized something…something big…

I had left all of the visa documents at home.

All of the big stupid important papers that had proved such a nightmare to get in the first place, I’d just left behind – not because I am forgetful, but more because I am a massive fucking moron. Ahem, sorry, hindsight is always such a huge bastard! You see, I had my passport and a page saying VISA in there, with some American looking patterns (I believe there were eagles, flags, and possibly Stone Cold Steve Austin…can’t be certain), so I guessed that would be it, that this would be enough. But naturally, it wasn’t.

I was suddenly panicking. I mean, I had got through this far! I would be getting on this plane to Amsterdam in ten minutes! So err…maybe I could make it through the other ones too? Maybe the whole visa thing is just like a take it or leave it, like “mehhh you don’t have it? It’s fine – just write us an IOU or something, no biggie!” Of course things were different now – as before I hadn’t realized it, so I was just wandering around, a totally ignorant buffoon without a care in the world, but now I had recognized my error…well, safe to say I would be a red, sweaty, nervous wreck at every turn. So yeah, not ideal.

When I got into Amsterdam I headed straight to Burger King to calm my nerves. I’ve found that there always seems to be a Burger King at the airport, I wonder why that is? I’m not complaining or anything, I mean I kinda like it – I feel like the fries are actually better than McDonalds, but ironically the burgers aren’t anything to write home about…hmm…like I do know kings aren’t elected…so perhaps that’s how they get around calling themselves the Burger King, and I suppose it’s not breaking any laws in that case, I just feel it’s a little dishonest, you know what I mean? …anyway, I digress.

It was time. I stood up heavily, and made my way to the gate. Every step more unwilling than the last. I kept my passport close to me and gripped it tightly – it was now slippery due to a mixture of double cheeseburger residue, and my nervous sweating. “OH GOD…OH GOD, OH GOD, OH GOD!” I was freaking out…maybe, maybe if I fainted and fell over they would just kind of cart me on there, and wouldn’t make such a big deal of my lack of paperwork?! Is that…is that a thing? No, don’t be silly. ”Argh, the guy looked right at me! He looked right at me…oh my God…he’s waving me over…argh!”

That was the passport check guy, right at the gate entrance – so fair enough that’s his job and it’s nothing out of the ordinary. But still. I was terrified.

As I walked up shaking, I handed him my passport – and tried not to look so uncomfortable (I’m pretty sure it came off as a constipated smirk)…but that’s when he uttered those fateful words…

”Where are your visa papers?”

“I…I…I, I don’t have them.”

He stared at me blankly.

“You don’t have them?

“No, I…I have them. I just don’t have them.”

(I have no idea what that meant at all, but that’s what I said.)

What took place next was very, very odd. To this day I am not entirely sure of what happened…it was…I don’t even know. As he looked at me in disbelief over my lack of visa papers, and probably wondering how I had gotten so far already, he let out a “hmmm…” and simply, turned around. He literally looked the other way. I stared at him (the back of his head) for a few seconds, not sure what was going on at all…and then, just…kinda…walked around him…

Of course the next few moments were TENSE! I kept expecting someone to run down that little tunnel bit, and tackle me to the floor…start spraying me with mace or something…so I kept looking over my shoulder, quickening my pace…I’m now doing this weird frenetic power walk thing, one more look behind – but nothing, NOTHING!

Only one more airport to go.

As I got into Atlanta it all felt different. There wasn’t going to be any cheeky winks or slip throughs here. Everything seemed 100% professional, like over the top serious. Gulp. This was the end. I could feel it. But that’s when I started thinking…the worst they could do to me is to send me home, right? And then, I’d be back home, with my best friends and my closest family members, right? So…like…nothing lost?

(This weak attempt at comforting myself didn’t work at all by the way.)

Final passport check, the big one. As I was called up, I wandered to the counter sheepishly, and placed my passport on the shelf in front…I tried a smile – it wasn’t returned by the lady behind the glass:


”Excuse me?”


I handed her my flight information print outs, knowing fine well that wasn’t what she was asking for:

”Sir. Where are your visa papers?”

“I don’t…I don’t have them. I mean I have them.”


”Errr. No.”

“How’d you get this – whatever – goin’ that room.”

She pointed to a small room in a far corner – I dragged myself there with a heavy heart, trying to avoid the silent yet judgmental eyes of others, unsure of what I should expect…as I opened the door a sweaty smell automatically struck me in the face, and a general vibe of “ohhhh shitttt, I’m in trouble” pulsed through my veins.

Imprisoned GIF

I was seated next to a Mexican family (lovely people, trust me their story was crazier than mine, maybe another time) – anyway, an hour passed…two hours…more…eventually I was called up…

Of course they asked over and over again how I simply just didn’t have the papers, they couldn’t comprehend that I was simply stupid…they thought there must be more to it…they made calls, typed stuff, and stared at me for uncomfortably long periods of time…we were getting nowhere; for every question that asked if I was a drug smuggler or insane terrorist, I answered the same way: “I just forgot my papers…I didn’t think I needed them…so…I…yeah.”

That’s when they decided to put me through on some kind of “temporary alien status” or something like that…not sure exactly…so as I fill out form after form, they then tell me I’ll need to give them my fingerprints – no problem! I press them down on the machine as requested:


“Wait, what?”

“Sir, try again please.”

“Okay, no problem.”

“Nope. Sir, is there any reason you don’t have fingerprints?”


She then called one of her colleagues over and explained the situation…and they just stared at me, asking questions about my past, and continuously asking for possible reasons my fingerprints may not show up…I then looked back at the Mexican family in desperation…they returned a sympathetic look, but there wasn’t really anything else they could do; I get it, they had their own problems.

After some time they decided it was probably something to do with the machine, I mean I didn’t look the type…whatever that means…I suppose a skinny English kid doesn’t really fit the bill. Anyway, eventually they found that I wasn’t some kind of criminal who files down their fingerprints to avoid detection (they’d watched something similar on CSI apparently), and let me go, three hours later, possibly more, no idea. But I was free.


And that was that…I had tricked the authorities, and I went on to set up my new life in America where I became uncontrollably wealthy and powerful, I also picked up a penchant for machine guns and snappy suits…oh wait…that’s Scarface…never mind. 

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68 Replies to “ILLEGAL in the USA!”

  1. Oh gosh, of course you would’ve gone straight to Atlanta where the English is almost unrecognizable as a language. (And I’m allowed to say that, I have family there.) You are the one person that always has the insane travel stories. These amuse me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha, Kari you’re allowed to say whatever you want regardless – we’re all friends here! But you’re right…sometimes, I couldn’t understand a word. (Then again they couldn’t understand me either!)

      This one has been waiting to be written for a while! I’m glad it amuses you though 🙂


  2. This story had me laughing out loud in the middle of this silent office. Note to self: don’t leave any paperwork at home ever, and always fake it ’til you make it. Great lessons. Great story!


  3. I’m from Tennessee which isn’t any better than Georgia, and I can barely understand what is said around me half the time. I feel your pain. I think its hilarious that they thought you didn’t have finger prints!!!! Those stupid machines couldn’t read my sisters finger prints either.. She said it was some creepy sweaty airport security man they had giving her lotion to put on first before it would work…


    1. THANK YOU, for ensuring that I wasn’t some kind of weird mutant with slippery digits! I swear those things are unreliable, must be! But ewwww creepy guy offering to give lotion…I don’t like that scene right there!


  4. Whenever I go on holiday, I think I forget loads of things…like my Nintendo, etc, stuff that aren’t really important until… uh-oh, I forgot my sunglasses and goggles… 😦
    By the way, that was really funny!


  5. That is a crazy story. Wow man. Amazing you made it through. That would certainly scare me. I feel nervous at customs even when everything I have is in order, can’t imagine what I would do in that situation.


  6. I work in Saudi Arabia and I have entered the country 3 times already and every entrance doesn’t get more comfortable than the previous despite having complete papers. The paranoia stays maximum level. I have these little heart attacks every single time I see those red skulls beside the “death penalty for drug trafficking” warnings (not that I am involved, LOL). But knowing beheading as a public execution, besides getting lashes on your back every Friday while you’re in prison? I’d like every single molecule of illegal substance that probably stuck to my clothes from the open air removed from me! I know a lot of great people here and I don’t intend to be racist but the strict middle-east countenance of the airport officials terrifies me. I’m always afraid I could break a law I don’t even know why the hell they exist in the first place. I always have this feeling that there’s a 90% probability that I’ll die by just legally being in a Saudi Arabian airport.


    1. Man…you know what I would be the same way, I mean culture wise it is just so far removed from what you/I know – you definitely have to be careful, some of those guys don’t play around! That’s for sure!

      I would probably have similar worries, just be wandering the streets and forget you are not allowed to wear flip flops on tuesdays…something like that…and get life in prison.

      Well, maybe my imagination is running away with me – but still, be careful – and thanks for the advice, if I ever get out there (only been to Dubai airport, haha) then I will err on the side of caution!


      1. Hahaha! You bet! And many of them don’t speak English. I mean they could charge you with anything without you knowing what you did to offend them nor the chance to defend yourself. When an officer with a Hitler mustache stares at me and starts to approach, my muscles literally quiver. I could feel the back of my neck warm up. It’s sooo stressful because I don’t know if i would be brought for inquisition by just bringing 10 playstation CDs or 2 bottles of sauteed shrimp or be delayed for hours and hours while they search deep into my hard drive for pornography or pirated softwares. I don’t have any of those but to undergo such things would take away my sanity. You don’t mess with them if you want to postpone your funeral. An hour after the immigration and customs check only these feelings subside.


      2. hahaha dude, if anyone with a Hitler tash is wandering about I am shitting my pants on the spot – that’s just science right there! I was honestly worried for coming to Korea, there were health checks and errr tests, I was expecting all kinds of things to crop up and thankfully it didn’t…I was half expecting to be outed as a diseased heroin addict or something (our minds probably make it 100 times worse than it really is!)

        So should I come out there to check it out, or what? Worth the hassle?


    1. After this entertaining story, I think you’ve paid your dues, and earned your access into America without a visa. Haha. P.s.(nice touch with the Mexican family)


      1. People can probably learn from ALL of my mistakes, haha! But I wouldn’t take my own advice, never mind giving it to other people! Can you coach me please, maybe I’ll stop getting into stupid situations then!


      2. But your mistakes have made you into this awesome person. You don’t want me to coach you, I’d just live vicariously through you and get you into crazier situations! Although I wish I had stories like yours to tell!


      3. Well there is that I suppose (what does the embarrassed/shy emoticon look like? Well…err…yeah, that can go here).

        Sorry I took so long to reply by the way, things have been CRAAAZY recently – but no change there I suppose.

        Hope you’re well 🙂 x


  7. Crazy as hell! You made what could have been a nightmare a trippy, kickass travel tale! 😀 I was smiling by the end of it.

    P.S. Didn’t even get threatened by authorities? Seriously! One lucky fellow you are!


    1. Thanks a lot, it was sheer craziness that’s for sure – and afterwards was kinda funny too…I had people waiting and when I eventually got through they were like “where have you been?” And I didn’t really have the energy to explain, so just said “passport check” – rather than explaining the whole nightmare!

      Anyway, glad you enjoyed my tale – appreciate you dropping by!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. That’s so hillarious! I was an exchange student this past school year myself, and having the Visa papers was actually something I remembered … That might be because I have always been scared of authorities and I’ve been to America before and gone through costums and DID NOT want to be you 😉 I’m glad you made it through !


    1. haha trust me, I don’t want to be me when these kind of situations crop up! Visas…I don’t know, they just always seem to go wrong for me! How was life as an exchange student? Great right? Always nice to be an unusual person in an unusual place! 🙂

      Oh, and thanks for reading!


  9. Nice. I literally lol’d, reading that 🙂

    I think it was funnier because I’m from Georgia, originally. I have to say, Atlanta is hands-down the scariest airport to be in, without documentation–they once tried to refuse to let me on the plane to get back to the UK (where I’d lived for the previous 7 years) because I… uhh… actually, I left my paperwork at home.

    In fairness, it wasn’t a visa, as such; it was a page in my expired passport; I ask you, who thinks to take their old passport on holiday, because, like, the UK government is too lazy to stamp your new passport? Ridiculous.

    Worse than that, some dumb hick didn’t want to take my passport as proof of I.D. because, like, I’d had a name change… uhh, yeah, I got married in the UK, so I changed my name, it’s not like that’s an unusual practice… whatever. It’s all worth it for The Plane Train: Concourse D (for David *rolls eyes*) here we come.

    Atlanta: best/worst airport in the world.



  10. It hurts me to say this about your horrible experience but I was almost peeing myself from laughing! It reminded me of when I had to go through a check point in Amsterdam from Nairobi, and the guy was like “Did you pack it yourself?” meaning did I pack my suitcase by myself. Me being tired and jet lagged thought he asked if I packed myself in the suitcase as a joke. So I replied “no” giggling. It wasn’t a joke, he was serious, so he called over his colleagues and the whole process was started all over again except this time……. they were literally interrogating me thinking I snuck some kind of explosive stuff in my suitcase. Hahahaha.


    1. That question…yeah I have never understood it, and at airports you are usually tired and pissed off to start off with – so when you are confused and say “No, my weird Uncle helped me and I am not sure what he slipped in”, well for some reason they don’t see it as a joke. Strange that.

      Anyway, have we learned our lesson? Probably not. But thanks for reading anyway, glad you found humour in it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This is probably best post I’ve read on your blog. Absolutely hilarious. Glad you made it through, but also appalled you made it through! OMG. Let’s hope your next trip goes better and you start packing early in ORDER OF IMPORTANCE! 🙂


  12. Such a silly story!! definitely made my day. I’m travelling to the US soon so i’ll be sure not to forget my paperwork!!


    1. I’m not sure. I’ve both had trouble and no trouble going through airports without my documents… as a woman, I qualify as a minority (who was sometimes not hassled) and as a white English-speaker-from-birth, I was not a minority (who sometimes got hassled)… it’s down to the luck of the draw, with airport staff.


  13. I have also had some issues coming and going….Even with all of my things in order. Leaving Alaska the airport security wanted to know why I was so anxious, and they grilled me pretty good even though I felt my response of “I’ve been out in the goddamn woods for three months, I’m anxious to get to my fucking house.” was reasonable, they did finally give up on asking the same questions over and over when my response remained that I was in fact anxious to get the fuck out of here.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sometimes they get a little overzealous when it comes to flashing what meager authority they have, always comes off as a waste of time…because it largely is. That’s why I hate airports as a general rule.

      Good for you for sticking to your guns, I feel like they try and plant that anxiousness with odd questioning. Ridiculous.


      1. Kind of had to stick to the answer I gave, I believe they would have found my declaration that I was nervous because I was acting as a drug mule for the cartel upsetting, and would have probably lead to even more questions.
        Good thing I decided not to tell them the truth. I was in a hurry to throw up all the balloons I’d eaten.


    2. I reckon airport staff go through some sort of bizarre “good cop, bad cop” training to make sure that we get an even(ish) mix of helpful, courteous service and rude, threatening behaviour each time we fly. It’s the only explanation I can think of, anyway.


      1. Alright, I was gonna keep kidding around (I was thinking of some really amusing training scenarios, etc); but I’m just gonna be straight with you guys. I have an ASD, and I actually can’t tell if you guys are kidding around too, or if you think I actually need dissuading from some conspiracy-theorist fantasy re: airport employee training. Help me out?


      2. I get that the drug mule stuff/the comments between you 2 are joking (one assumes, anyway); I’ve mostly heard (seen?) Occam’s razor used to correct people who are seriously mistaken, though. So when I read that comment, I was like, “Oh, great, another person who thinks I’m a whackadoo because I made a weird comment and it came across as serious, not a joke, well great, now 2 more people on the internet think I’m off hiding in an anti-Commie bunker with tin foil on my head…”

        Which I am, obviously. But I can’t let you know that.


  14. No, I used Occam’s razor just meaning the simplest answer is probably the right one. I was just saying they are simply assholes and that excusing their behavior with good-cop-bad-cop would be giving them way too much credit.

    Yeah, I’m probably one of the weirdest people around, I’d never judge anyone.
    And I never joke about drug smuggling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not judging you, I knew you weren’t joking as I’ve read your blog. The good cop/bad cop thing seemed funny to me ~ as I doubt there is that much thought going into it, probably just frustration at dealing with thousands of people daily!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanx for that hilarious story. I, too have had a moronic moment in the airport, on the way to Universal, Orlando theme park in Florida. Standing there with hubby and child in a very long line, I realized just then I had switched purses, and had left my driver’s license in the purse at home.

    Isn’t it funny when the authorities ask for your credentials, and you blankly look at them, and then they look back at you like you ARE a moron? Who comes to the airport without driver’s license?

    Like you, for some reason, they allowed me to board. God blesses babies and fools, hooray!

    Thanks for checking out my blog.


  16. As one who worked in an International airport here in the USA, I am amused by how intimidating people find it to travel in the USA, but yours is not the first story I have heard of weirdness in the International/Customs area. I was a frequent visitor to the area when I worked with the unaccompanied minors who traveled. There was always something going on down there and as such they are overly suspicious of everyone! I hope you enjoyed the rest of the year here, though!


      1. I think the feeling that “something is going to go wrong” is just endemic of those who travel through the customs area of international airports. The frequent horror stories one sees in the news and hears via urban legends would be enough to concern any reasonable person, much less those with highly evolved imaginations and sense of humor. You seem to be guilty of both imagination and humor, so… 😉


  17. Oh my.. i cant imagine what i would have done if I was at your place. Anyway i kinda laughed while reading this 🙂


  18. I had a similar experience: if it wasn’t for my thought diary being in my hand luggage, I’d probably still be in a holding cell. Well told and much love for the like. Oneness x


  19. “they couldn’t comprehend that I was simply stupid”

    It happens even to the smartest people like us 🙂 🙂

    Thank you for the Like. You should visit my country one of these days. I don’t think you’ll need a Visa for short stay travels. But be warned: our airport can be pretty horrendous.


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