Saturday, 9 July 2011

Day 4: Frugal Travel

As I feared, there is no internet access at this conference centre.
The following pages were written daily, however, and uploaded all at once.

Gosh, I am tired. 

Let me say that again. 

GOSH, I am tired. You would be too if you had missed an entire night's sleep. I left the house at 3am this morning, having not been to bed at all. It is now 7.30pm, and I have managed to sneak away from my conference to get an early night. But first, I blog. That's how dedicated I am.

Now, this trip is being paid for in its entirety by my employers. So actually, I don't have to worry about spending on food and things this week, because I will get it all back. I even took a taxi to the airport rather than struggle across town on the late (early?) buses, which was fair enough, I think, at 3am. But ever vigilant, I have made good use of my time today, and have scouted out a few frugal tips for travelling.

If we are to resist them, it is important to externalise the subliminal signals being sent to our brains. So I shall begin by stating the obvious: airports want us to spend. Pottering around Edinburgh Airport at 4am with my sleepy eyes wide open, that was as clear as the dawn I got to witness. Even if you avoid the duty-frees, your average chain shop seems to be about twice the price in there. For example, I wandered into WH Smith's with a vague idea of buying a pen. The cheapest pens on sale were £2.50. I wandered back out again, closing my ears to the silent "Buy me!" screams being emitted by the family-sized packs of Maltesers.

The problem is, if you are in an airport at all, it is practically a given that you will be tired. And when you are tired, what you want more than anything in the world - bar actual sleep - is food. Because food gives you energy, and right now, your energy is in seriously short supply. But the food on sale is grossly overpriced, and because of all the security checks, you couldn't very well bring a sandwich with you.* You couldn't even bring that bottle of water you filled up at the sink. Did I mention the raging thirst? You will also have a raging thirst.

So here is my best frugal travel tip for British Airports, such as it is: Boots the Chemist. I am going to sing their praises, because the important thing about Boots the Chemist is that they are exactly the same Boots the Chemist inside the airport as they are outside. True, they are trying hard to sell you lots of over-priced mini shampoos for travelling, but don't hold that against them. Because Boots do a Meal Deal, and it is the best Meal Deal out there. 3 items for £2.99, so you can fill up on the usual sandwich-crisp-juice combo, or even on sushi, mango slices, and a fruit smoothie, if that is your thing. A full meal for the price of a large cup of coffee.

My other tip is to look out for drinking fountains rather than buying expensive bottled water. I didn't see any at Edinburgh airport, but I saw a few in Amsterdam, all situated just outside the toilets. I had a slurp and it was perfectly acceptable. Of course, if I'd had a bottle, I could have filled one up, so it might be worth bringing an empty one in my hand luggage next time.  Come to that, is there anything intrinsically wrong with the water in the toilet sinks, that it can't be drunk as usual?  Or maybe the best thing would be simply to swallow my pride and just ask the nice lady at the coffee bar for a cup of tap water.

Logging off now. Gotta sleep …

* Or could you?  Must investigate for future reference.


Jane said...

Sounds like you were doing travel tiredness in tandem with myself (driven nearly 500km to see my parents) and a daughter who had flown back from her conference. We got quite deft at carrying empty bottles through the checks and filling up under the basin tap in the toilets rather than constantly buying and tossing plastic bottles. I'd guess they'd have to warn you if the water wasnt fit for drinking in most European countries. (Parts of Asia you might need the opposite and be explicitly told the water was safe.)

Fran said...

@Jane: Yes, I think the empty bottle is the right way to go. I wish I'd thought of it in advance. But I have another trip overseas coming up in November, so I will be more prepared for that. Thanks for the confirmation of my thoughts :)