I'm pretty sure I have messed up every time I have crossed a border. Not intentionally or in a drug running kind of way; but more in a harmless bringing the wrong produce across kind of way.
I have also had some very humorous interactions with border security and a few scary moments.
Growing up in British Columbia Canada I was always close to a border. This story is going to age me as I grew up in the era of street lights being my indicator to go home and my parents not having a clue where I was on a day to day basis. All very normal in my time growing up. One place I lived when I was just young, I used to walk on the beach for hours, constantly crossing onto American soil. I did not realize this until one day a man in a uniform came up to me and asked me what I was doing. As I was raised to be distrustful of strangers I responded with "Why do you want to know?" The man proceeded to ask me where I lived to which I pointed down the beach. He than proceeded to educate me on the fact that I had crossed an international border and I should go home. I went home and didn't think anymore of it. Neither did I associate the border crossing with the same place I would go for groceries every week. I just thought it was normal to wait in line and talk to a person in a box every time we went shopping. As an adult I have crossed this border and even looked down the beach to the place I would wander all the time. It has not changed; I could still walk down the beach during low tide onto American soil but now I recognize that there are guards and cameras. Not too mention as an adult I probably wouldn't be just told to go home.
Oddly enough as an adult I have crossed a border unaware; kind of. My first time I crossing into Mexico on my motorcycle we went through a very small border crossing, without stopping. In my defense; I truly thought there had to be more; a larger building, someone would stop us, there would be a gate, anything to indicate we should stop. Granted there were people standing around and some even waved to us. Looking back I wonder if they weren't just saying hi and maybe trying to get us to stop. We did stop almost immediately and assessed our surroundings to come to the conclusion that we were truly in Mexico. The chickens and dogs running wild was the first clue; the second was the Spanish. We wandered around half expecting armed guards to come chase us down, but no one came so we carried on our merry way. This caused us some issues when we went to fly out of the country and not have a visa, but it was rectified quickly and cost us a substantial amount of peso, but lesson learned; always get a visa!
I remember another time crossing into the states to go to Mount Baker snowboarding when I was younger. There was several vehicles in our group and we had all stopped for a sandwich on our way through the border. While waiting in line we began to wonder "Are we allowed to bring the sandwiches through." Now this seems quite comical now but we were genuinely stressed out. We were already concerned that being heavily tattooed snowboarders in a car that could have easily passed for a drug dealers vehicle back in that time, that we were going to get apprehended and searched. We didn't have anything to worry about, but our caffeine level was exorbitant and we were being quite goofy about it. So our turn came up and we were asked the standard questions. Than the border guard turned his attention to our sandwiches; asking questions about the ingredients and where we got them. I was feeling pretty giddy and cocky by now and at this point I asked to the border security guard if he would like a bite. At this point our super serious border guard started laughing and I realized that he was messing with us. We all had a good laugh and we went on to enjoy our day.
Another time my husband and I were riding our motorcycles back to Canada from Mexico. We were cold and tired and by the time we had gotten to Idaho we decided to throw our bikes in a U-Haul truck and drive them the rest of the way. At the border we fully expected to get pulled over and ripped apart. It was close to closing time at the small border that we were crossing at; and as expected we were asked to pull over. Two guards came out and we explained our story and showed them the bikes. They were quite interested and at one point one guard jokingly asked to go for a ride! Laughing we said " Go ahead but bundle up!" We all had a laugh and they wished us well and sent us on our way.
More recently; returning from Mexico in the RV we were pulled over for inspection. The border guards were very nice and did a very thorough inspection of our camper. It was all going very well until they came out with my plants! I immediately protested and the guard tried to subdue me by telling me that they would give me my pots back. I let him know in no uncertain terms that the plants were just as important (given my level of concern you would think they were a cool plant but they were just succulents; essentially the only plant I can currently keep alive). This transaction was all done in a humorous manner and they assured me they would do what they could. It came down to a compromise; they took my avocados and fresh tomatoes and I kept my plants and the pots they were in. It was my own fault really, as my neurodivergent brain did not process the list of allowable produce when I was researching. We told the guards to enjoy our fruits and veggies in the form of salsa and guacamole as we had intended and we were on our way.
There was a time that I didn't have current registration on our dirt bikes crossing into Mexico and for all intents and purposes they could have just turned us around and said beat it. The border security was kind enough to let us through and trust me I will never make that mistake again. That one little screw up could of sent us packing back to cold Canada just for for two little pieces of paper I should have had anyways.
When you drive through Mexico you will encounter military inspection points. These are a little more intimidating than a border crossing as you are riding or driving up to a lot of very heavily armed men with automatic rifles in the middle of a foreign country. Our grasp of the Spanish language is in need of improvement so communication can be difficult but sign language and a smile go a long way with these guys. On one inspection we were able to chat with some of them and they were very curious about us and were more than happy to share stories about themselves. We also learned that they are eternally grateful for a nice cold drink or a snack.
On a recent trip from Alberta to British Columbia I had fallen under the misconception that roads would not have changed in the the last 20 years. We missed a turn that Google maps was seriously confusing me and I told my husband to just keep going and we will will turn right on Zero Avenue. As a child I had lived on Zero Avenue and it ran parallel to the imaginary line that separated the United States from Canada. Much to my surprise as we got closer to the border I realized that Zero Ave was now blocked off and we had to go through the border. As we sheepishly pulled up and explained to the officer what was happening he had a laugh and filled out a piece of paper that he handed to us which said, "refused entry; reason; lost." He gave us directions to get back around with the firm warning that if we do not head straight to the Canadian border we will see the biggest display of red and blue lights behind us known to man. Warning heeded we took the directions given and made it back to the Canadian side where the border guard laughed at us and my husband grumbling about my lack of navigation skills. Than; just to put a nail in the coffee, I took us down a road with no less than 78 speed bumps.
There has also been several times when we have been pulled over and had to deal with very serious and gruff border security. We get it; they have a job to do; and a very important one. But, more often than not they are friendly and welcoming. The truth of the matter is; if your not doing anything wrong or illegal intentionally you have nothing to worry about. But the fact of the matter is; it is up to the discretion of the border guard to let you through or not, so it is always in your best interest to be polite and respectful. It can seem overwhelming when you begin researching traveling through borders and there is a lot you need to have in order for it to go smoothly but like everything in life; nothing is perfect and we do make mistakes. I always say "Passport and credit card; I'm ready to go!" So just do the best you can, go with the flow and most importantly enjoy the ride.