Three days to end of semester, three days to take off. I’d be crossing the world for the 13th time, 4th time alone - it wasn’t a big deal. This time from NY, New York to Surabaya, Indonesia. Money was low, but I wasn’t planning on asking my parents for more. I wasn’t worried. With a couple bills in my wallet and a small piggy bank, I should have enough money.. or so I thought.
Night before take-off, time to count my money. Check debit card, empty. Check wallet, $35. Add up coins piggy bank, $14.25. Total of $49.25. Still, wasn’t worried. But I had to be careful, so I planned; $6.50 train to Manhattan, $9 train to Jamaica and $5 for Skytrain.
Total money left was $31.75.. $25 of which needed to be saved for Visa Entry in Indonesia. All in all, $6.75 left. No room for error.
Usually I don’t eat much the day I begin my long journeys; so I didn’t eat or drink much. Flight was at 9:50pm, figured I could just wait for airplane dinner.
But of course, by the time I get to the airport, I get very hungry. With highly expensive airport
food, what could I buy with $6.75 that will give me best price to energy ratio? The struggle was real. Peanuts it was. But man, I got thirsty – never have I appreciated free water fountains as much as I did that day.
Walk up the stairs, Singapore Airlines, I was the first passenger to check in. Wasn’t exactly sure
how heavy my bags were, but I knew they were probably overweight – excess limits were tight and fees would be large. But how would I pay for it? Only solution was to use my dad’s technique; be extra nice to the check-in lady. Quick glance to see the kindest-looking employee and.. YOU! Young female who is laughing, you look kind. So, I breathe and walk to her with a big smile - over-the-top niceness. She acknowledged my heavy bags but said she would let it slide!!.
Phewwwww. God was on my side, still had my $25 to enter Indonesia.
Now all I had to do was eat every airplane free meal for the next 32 travel hours, steal some snacks for transits and I would be fine.
Land at Surabaya Int’l Airport. Walk up to Arrival Visa. Bring out my $25 for entry fee. A $20 bill, three $1 bills and a few $1 coins; all I had left. I look up, and to my disbelief, read the sign “Airport fee - $25 – no coins accepted”.
No way. I had succeeded in making it all the way across the world without needing help, until the very last step. Shamefully, I look to the guy behind me and ask for $2. "Poor kid, travelling the world but doesn’t have $2 to enter the country" he must have thought.
All in all, a very smooth journey. The peanuts saved me at JFK, airplane food saved me for 32 hours and the nice man in line saved me in Surabaya. I even met a nice lady en route to JFK!
The 32+ travel hours took a toll on me.. but what hectic global experience! Hungry, tired and broke, I had made it!!!