PSA / Tip: Always Bring a Pen When You Travel

Good morning everyone, greetings from the beautiful Sheraton Presidente San Salvador Hotel. Over the last week, I traveled from Bolivia, to Guatemala, to El Salvador and I am flying to Nicaragua tonight. During this trip, the one thing I noticed is that every country has a different process for immigration, customs, and filling out the custom form.  Some airports only require a custom form on arrival, some require custom forms on arrival and departure, some require visas, and some require a small cash payment.  But no matter what the process is, you always need to fill out a custom form.

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In general, when you board your flight departing from one country and heading to another country, the airline will pass out custom forms before takeoff. I always like to fill out the custom form as soon as possible before we take off. It’s much easier to fill out the custom form before the plane takes off (bumpy turbulence makes writing legibly a challenge) and I hate waiting until the last minute and rushing to get the custom form filled out before departing the plane.

As an observation, during the last few flights, passengers asked the flight attendants for pens so that they could fill out the custom form. Usually, the flight attendants only has a few pens available, so I highly recommend you bring a pen (or two) with you when you travel. You can also take a pen from the hotel that you are staying at and any basic black or blue pen will get the job done.

If you are feeling nice on your flight, you can share your pen(s) with the passengers near you who forgot to bring their own. It’s a small piece of advice that will make your travel more enjoyable and less stressful. Do you travel with a pen? Do you have any other simple pieces of advice that you want to share? Have a great day everyone.

Here are all parts of my Central / South America trip:

16 thoughts on “PSA / Tip: Always Bring a Pen When You Travel

  1. Tonei Glavinic

    I always try to have a pen with me when I travel because of this – on my flights between the US and Mexico, when they make the announcement that they will be passing out forms, they often explicitly say that the flight attendants do not have pens for passengers to borrow.

    1. Grant Post author

      The worse offender of this was a SWA flight to Cabo San Lucas (SJD) where there were only 10 custom forms in English, the rest were in Spanish and there were only 5 pens to go around the whole plane. The flight attendants had to translate every line multiple times over the PA. Add alcoholic drinks and wild kids to the mix and it was a disaster.

  2. Kalboz

    My backpack (carry on luggage) is full of pens I collected from various airlines and hotels. These come in handy when need to complete immigration forms at various ports of entry :)

  3. mark

    I usually have 2 with me so I can let someone borrow the other one while I complete my form. I can’t imagine how some people still don’t bring a pen when they travel when you have to complete a form pretty much anywhere you have to go internationally. BTW, how was your trip to El Salvador. I’ve been curious about going but somewhat apprehensive because of what I read on the news.

    1. Grant Post author

      El Salvador was amazing. From the Priority Pass lounge at SAL, to the Sheraton Presidente, to the volcano tour and papusa lunch, and especially the very warm people, I highly recommend visiting El Salvador. They have many connections at their hub in SAL.

  4. TT

    We collect pens from our hotel stays too. Always have enough pens so everyone on our group can fill out the custom forms. When other passengers borrowed the pens and not returned them, we won’t mind.

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