Can you imagine to be travelling alone to the other side of the world, and suddenly you are without money? It has happened to me, leading me to do things I am not proud of.
I arrived Hong Kong, found a hotel and paid with my credit card. No code needed.
The next day, I was going to take out money. The numbers where you put in your pin on the ATM was in opposite direction of what I am used to. Due to this I managed to put the wrong code three times. You see, I noticed that I actually did not know my pin, but I was always just pressing it automatically. When the numbers where in another order, this did not work. So the card was blocked.
I always travel with two credit cards, for be on the safe side. However, one of them had been stolen in Bolivia earlier on my trip. So I only had one left.
So I was stuck there, in Hong Kong without any money. All I had was 200 Norwegian kroners in cash that I found in my wallet. I changed them in in the local currency, and after what western union took I had around 20 USD for use. And Hong Kong is not actually cheap.
With this money I had to pay my hostel. I had to buy food. I had to buy a local sim-card for my phone for call my bank. And I had to use money for transport, and the fee for apply for my visa to India where I was supposed to start my internship in 1 week. As well I had to pay for copies and pictures that was needed for the visa.
As you might understand, the money I had was not enough for all of this.
I paid my hostel for the first night. I lived on 1 USD cheese burgers from McDonalds for several days – breakfast, lunch and dinner. I bought the local sim-card, which by the way did not work in my phone. And I paid the stuff for my visa. After that there was nothing left.
Therefore, I had do so something I am not proud of. I did not pay my hostel for three whole nights. When I paid the first night, they did not register my name. They did not register that I paid. They just gave me a key to a shared dorm with five other girls. However, the room was never full. There were always new people in the reception, and they had no control over who had paid or not. They were also pretty impolite. When I checked out after four nights, just paying for one, they did not say anything. As they had no register about if I had paid or not.
Anyway, in the end I got in touch with my bank. Actually I talked to them through my sister on skype. 24 hours after that they unblocked my credit-card, and I was free to use it again. So luckily at least for me being without any money abroad, was temporary.
However, two friends of mine used up all their money when they were travelling to Brazil. They even overdraw their credit card with some hundreds USD. They got a shock when the card did not work, when they wanted to pay for their hotel when leaving. All they could do was to explain the receptionist the situation; that they did not have money to pay. He was not happy, and got very angry at them, but had no other option than to let them go. So without money, they contacted their parents. The parents sent them some money, but that did just go to cover their debt. Luckily this all happened on the very end of the trip, and they managed to get home safe, but broke.
Another friend of mine, was robbed with gun in Chile. His credit card was stolen, together with all his money and passport. It was a very complicated situation, as his family back home wanted to send him money through western union, but for picking up that money he needed his passport. He went to the German embassy. They helped him, so that the family sent money to him in the name of one of the employees there, which picked up the money for him with her passport.
As I knew my situation without money in Hong Kong was temporary, I did not want to ask anyone for send me money. I did not even connect with my parents during these days, as they were travelling without connection. However, I talked to my husband that was then my boyfriend, and he wanted to send me money. But I thanked kindly no. “I’m going to manage this on my own”, I was thinking. I did not want to owe anyone money or bother anyone with my problems. If this decision was correct is another question. I kind of stole; by not paying for my hostel.
Have you ever been stuck abroad without money? What did you do?
Or what would you do if you were in this situation?