Heard about the Russian tourist begging for alms at a temple in Kanchi (Kancheepuram) because he had run out of money? What would you have done if you had been in his place? We asked a few people and here’s what they had to say.
India is a country of sights and sounds and the most recent ‘sight’ to hit the news was that of a Russian tourist begging for alms at a temple in the South Indian town of Kancheepuram because he had run out of money. Unfortunately, he’d forgotten his Debit Card PIN and didn’t have a Credit Card on him either.
This got us thinking. What would you do if you find that you’ve run out of money while travelling abroad? People have done many things from asking strangers for help to busking on the streets to earn a few bucks to get them out of that particular pickle.
Additional Reading: Kickass Ways To Make Money While Travelling
We decided to hit the streets and ask the public what they would do. The responses ranged from funny to sensible. Here’s what they had to say:
Gareth Hoover, a photographer, laughingly said, “Look Russian and beg at a temple.” On a more serious note, he added, “I’d contact my embassy if I was in a major city or would ask someone to do me a favour and call someone, provided I had all my numbers.”
Sabah Mistry who works in real estate said, “If I ran out of money, I’d ask my family to send me some. Deposit it in my bank locally or use my Credit Card. And if I had no credit on my phone, I’d mail my family from my hotel.”
“I’d use my Credit Card, of course,” promptly said Jyothy Karat, a photojournalist.
It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan, we say!
Jeff Emmanuel who works in advertising said, “I’ve been in a similar situation. Strangers always help.”
Lionel De Nazareth who works for an architecture and design company had a few options. “I’d call a relative and ask for help or look for an embassy. But before that, I’d contact the concierge at the place I was staying and ask for help.”
Sneha Damodaran, an SAP consultant, said that this happened to her on a trip to Singapore where she had a fixed amount of money on her Forex card which she had exhausted. “However, with a Forex card, you can ask the bank to add more money to it when you run out. It takes an hour or less to reflect,” she said.
Rohan Sylvester, a content marketing manager, had quite a few suggestions up his sleeve. “I’d go to my embassy or the nearest Western Union and have someone wire money to me. If I didn’t have credit on my phone, I’d ask someone to make a call on my behalf or head to a police station and ask for help.”
Nikhil David Prakash, a restauranteur and a man with a plan, said, “I’d wash cars. Do you know how much money you can make washing cars?!”
With a reputation for getting Indians out of trouble, Sushma Swaraj, the Minister of External Affairs was the recourse for some.
“As an Indian, I would tweet to the Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj,” said Machaiah Kalengada, an event planner.
Nia Tilley, a public relations person, said, “Hmm, I’d ask someone to wire me some money and come back to my country.”
Surekha Sundaram, an English teacher, simply said, “I’d borrow.”
Some people wanted to know what would be the right thing to do should they find themselves in the precarious situation of being without money while travelling abroad.
Now, there’s no fixed rule as to what one should do should you find yourself in a situation like this, but there are few steps you can take in case it happens.
- Get help from your hotel
If you’ve already checked into your hotel, you’ll most probably have access to a phone and internet. It’s a simple matter to get in touch with friends and relatives and ask them to help you out once you have phone and internet access.
But what if you’re the adventurous type and don’t have your stay booked already?
- Reach out to your embassy
If you find that you’ve run out of money, rather than overstay your welcome in a foreign country, try to reach your embassy. It might be a good idea to make a note of the phone number of your embassy before you leave on your trip.
But what if your embassy is in a different city than you and difficult to reach?
- Find the nearest police station
If you’ve run out of money or have had your purse stolen and can’t get to your embassy, the local police station might be your best bet to help you get safely back to your home country.
- Tweet a minister
We aren’t kidding. If you’re Indian and find yourself in a fix in a foreign country, search for free wi-fi and try tweeting Sushma Swaraj, India’s External Affairs Minister. She has, in the past, helped Indians abroad who have tweeted to her and foreigners too.
- Precautions to take
One never knows what could happen when travelling, so, it’s always a good idea to stash away a little money in different places (apart from your handbag or wallet) such as your suitcase, and in different pockets of the clothes you’re wearing. Should you misplace your bag or wallet or have it stolen, god forbid, you’ll still have something to at least make a long-distance phone call or get yourself to the nearest police station or embassy.
Keep a backup Credit Card with you too. Should you exceed your travel budget, you can always use your card and pay later. Just make sure your card is enabled for international use before you leave your home country.
Additional Reading: 5 Amazing Ways You Can Use Your Credit Card To Travel On The Cheap
Never travel without sufficient Travel Insurance. Travel Insurance usually covers medical expenses and evacuation, cancellations and delays and even things like lost luggage and the loss of your passport. Of course, each insurance policy is different, so it’s important to go through all the details, terms and conditions before getting a policy.
Additional Reading: Why You Should Never Go On Vacation Without Travel Insurance
So, what finally happened to Evangelin Berngowe the Russian tourist who ran out of money while travelling in India? Locals who were surprised to see him begging at the temple reported him to the local police station. The kind officers at the Siva Kanchi police station gave him Rs. 500, put him on the suburban train to Chennai and gave him directions to get to the Russian embassy from there. The Indian Minister of External Affairs also tweeted to the gentleman saying that her officials in Chennai would help him out.
So, all’s well that ends well.
Additional Reading: Using A Credit Card Abroad
Being cashless isn’t necessarily a bad thing. That is, not if you have a Credit Card to help you out. Are you planning a trip abroad and don’t have a Credit Card yet? We can help. Just hit the button below to compare across banks to find a card that suits you.
Psst… we’ve even got cards that have a paperless application process.