Plenty of children get into fights with their parents and threaten to run away from home. It’s a typical empty threat. Even if a kid actually does leave the house, they’ll usually only get as far as a friend’s house before regret kicks in. But for one Australian boy, not only did he make good on his threat, he actually traveled to an entirely different country.
Earlier this year, twelve-year-old Drew, (not his real name), had an argument with his parents and decided it was time for a tropical vacation. As reported by the Australian news program A Current Affair, Drew flew across Australia, from Sydney to Perth, and then all the way to Bali, Indonesia.
That’s a journey of over 3500 miles, and Drew made it all by himself.
Here’s how it all went down. According to The Guardian, Drew asked his mother Emma if he could visit Bali by himself. She understandably said ‘no,’ but Drew was undeterred. He researched which airlines allow minors to travel unaccompanied by an adult. Then, he stole his parents’ credit and make his reservation. After telling his Mom and Dad that he was headed to school, he hopped on his scooter and rode to the train station, and then the airport.
Mom and Dad are one thing, but how did Drew con a series of presumably sane adults to let him get away with his plan? Pretty much how Kevin McAllister did in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York–with a combination of youthful innocence, lies, and cunning. He used a self-check in kiosk to check into the Sydney-to-Perth flight without drawing attention to himself. Once he arrived in Perth, an airline employee did question him, but he talked his way out of it.
“They just asked for my student ID and passport to prove that I’m over 12 and that I’m in secondary school,” Drew told A Current Affair. “It was great because I wanted to go on an adventure.”
He landed in Bali and went to the All Seasons hotel, where his family had already stayed on previous vacations. He convinced staff to let him into his room by telling them he was traveling with his sister.
Unlike Kevin McAllister, Drew didn’t even have to use a Talkboy to disguise his voice over the phone!
Drew later told reporters that he was afraid he’d be caught, and even more afraid to be alone in a foreign country, but it didn’t deter him. With no luggage except for his backpack and a scooter, Drew hit the streets of Denpasar. He did some shopping and saw the sights. He enjoyed Bali’s restaurants and beaches. Somehow, he even convinced someone to rent him a motorbike, and someone else to sell him a beer.
Back home, Drew’s family was in full-blown panic mode. After Drew’s school informed them that he never showed up for class, they realized his whereabouts were unknown. They repeatedly called Drew on his mobile phone, but he ignored them. Finally, after several days, they learned Drew’s location–possibly because he posted a video of himself backflipping from a second story balcony into the hotel pool.
Credit: A Current Affair
When Emma learned her son was in Indonesia, she and Drew’s father boarded a plane went to retrieve him. She also alerted the Australian consulate and local Balinese police, who went to the hotel to pick him up. Even then, Drew wasn’t ready to give up on his vacation. He told police he would head up to his hotel room to retrieve his belongings, then shoved a chair under the door and closed the blinds. Police had to unscrew a window so they could climb in and bring him out.
Drew’s Bali excursion lasted four days before his parents arrived.
While lots of people have gotten a kick out of his story, Emma was none too happy that it happened at all. She questioned how all the security measures in place could allow her son to slip through the cracks. “Shocked, disgusted, there’s no emotion to feel what we felt when we found he left overseas,” she said.
Drew’s family said he’s basically a good kid with a rebellious streak. When asked to describe her grandson, his grandmother Linda said, “He’s kind, he’s generous, he’s got a heart of gold. There’s no problem with him. He’s just…too intelligent for his own good at the moment,” she said.
Emma meanwhile summed him up thusly, “He doesn’t like to hear the word ‘No.'”
This isn’t even the first time Drew has run away from home. When he was two, he packed a suitcase and bailed. But that time, he only made it as far as a local park.
In the end, Drew and his parents returned home safely. Although Drew appears to have escaped major punishment, he still said he wouldn’t pull this stunt again, because he knows how much trouble he’d be in.
Still, he doesn’t seem to regret the trip itself. When A Current Affair reporter said, “That was a week you won’t forget,” Drew replied, “Hopefully not.”
And that, friends, is a 12-year-old who’s more badass than you or I would ever hope to be.