With my recent nightmare traveling to India, approaching border control in Kenya was nothing short of terrifying. I’ve lost my bravery and sitting in a coffee shop shortly afterward, my heart is still pounding. I’m not sure why as I had everything I needed and I didn’t even need a visa with a South African passport (you get a 30-day stamp on arrival). The nerves would not budge, my palms were sweating and my chest broke out in red blotches. Lamb, you’re not looking good love, you’re looking guilty as hell!
The good news is I got through with ease, and I’m going to share with you how this clever little Lamb did that.
Tips for dealing with border control:
- Make friends. This may seem strange when you’re on a 14-hour friendship train with a definite end, but you need to latch onto someone who knows what is going on! I spotted a family with the same passport as me and started asking them what they’re going to be doing in Kenya. They told me they had moved here from South Africa 20 years ago, but still own property in SA and go back and forth. Eureka! As I was traveling alone, I labeled them Lamb Buddies and we were on our way.
- Ask somebody if you’re stuck. Nothing says suspicious like glancing at someone’s immigration sheet to see what your neighbor put as their answer to the question you can’t answer. Think of it this way, the airport staff want you to get out as soon as possible and you loitering around awkwardly like a surfer at a science fair, will only annoy them. Take today, for example, it’s my first time in Kenya and the shuttle bus dropped us off at some place that looked like a warehouse. Bear in mind that its 1am and the place is deserted except for the passengers on my flight. So, I acted like the Lamb (or sheep) that I am and followed the herd. First stop was some weird health check radar thing, never seen it before and had no clue what this scan was going to produce. I asked the 6 foot 4 Kenyan in uniform what was going on and he simply replied, “give me your yellow fever card”. It wasn’t the warmest of welcomes but hey, I found out what was going on. Next up came a selection of SIX immigration forms… lucky my new Lamb Buddies were around! HELP!
- You’re never fully dressed without a smile. Lies upon lies, but these poor immigration officials are so fucking bored that a bright smile on an organized flyer is bound to make them happier than a twat with no personality.
- Have your details ready. Normally, they want to know when you’re flying out and where you’re staying. Go old school and print out EVERYTHING. A confirmation email of your flight? Check. Travel insurance? Check. Hotel booking? Check. Visa confirmation? Check. A portrait of you naked so you can further persuade them to stamp your passport if things go downhill? Check.
- Have your story ready. These days, people are fuckers and they like to overstay on a visa and cheat the system. It’s because of this that border control developed trust issues. They just want to know what you’re going to be doing in their country, so tell the truth. “OMG I’m gonna have such a party when I get to my hotel!” or “Namaste, I’m ready to be enlightened to the depths of my MDMA riddled soul”. Just be straight was them about why you’re there, people always think it’s a trick question, but “I’m here to have a fucking good time” is a perfectly good answer.
- Research the hell out of their immigration laws and print them out to refer to them when you need to. Sometimes, they like to whip out a law to surprise a traveler and you’re left looking like a whipped chicken. Not sure what whipped chicken looks like but it’s 2.30am in the morning and it sounds amazing. In Thailand, I was doing a visa run when suddenly they asked for proof of funds IN CASH. But I’m Travel With Lamb ma’fucker! I knew that you just had to show proof of funds in the form of an e-statement with your bank. Don’t rub it in their faces that you’ve caught them out, just calmly say: “like it states in your immigration laws, here is my proof of funds in the form of an e-statement as I don’t travel with that amount of money in cash as I feel it’s not safe.”
So, hopefully, this helps you out for your next encounter with border control!
It’s 2.38am and this is the Lamb signing OUT… Just kidding I have to wait until 6.30am for my lift. Toodles.