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Don't be a dope, even when you're broke

Updated: Feb 7, 2018

Don’t be like me. Learn from the stupidity of my novice travel adventures. Most importantly, don’t get stuck in a sketchy part of London at 2 a.m.

Traveling is a wonderful aspect of my life that I’m incredibly thankful for. It’s not something I take for granted either. Being a 20-year-old college student, I’m constantly balling on a budget. I make plenty of stupid decisions

involving money. One of the most ignorant decisions I have ever made was when I booked my flight from London to Madrid. I tried to save money by flying out of the Stansted airport, quite a distance from my friend’s apartment, and at the absolute butt-crack-of dawn.

I can always sacrifice a bit of comfort to save money. However, there is a fine line between sacrificing my slumber and risking the entirety of my existence. In this instance, I unintentionally acted out the latter.

Ryanair is a cheap way to see the world, but they often have very early, inconveniently timed flights (as well as a terrible baggage policy). In order to make my 6:45 a.m. flight, I needed to check into the airport at 4:40 a.m. Staying up later and making the flight was not even an issue for me, I can always nap later. It was getting to the Stansted airport that was the problem. Not only was it over an hour away from my friend’s apartment, but transit was limited because of the time of my flight. Because of this, I had to plan to take a bus instead of the Underground. In order to get to the 24 hr. bus service, I had to take a night bus. These were all things I was completely aware of and okay with the decision- I mean I was saving money after all.

In theory all was well, except for when I arrived (MUCH earlier than my scheduled bus departure) and found the “station” the bus departure was at to be closed. I soon learned that although buses came throughout the night, the “station” was actually the Underground station that was closed from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

So I was stuck in the middle of sketchville London in the middle of the night. In the wise words of Ted Mosby’s mother, “Nothing good happens after 2 a.m.” At this point I wasn’t ready to panic because there had to be a McDonald’s nearby, and all Micky D’s are open late. Boy, was I wrong. With no golden arches in sight, I was left wandering the nearby streets in search of safety. Instead I was greeted with people fighting in the streets and that rush of heat in my cheeks.

At this point, I was spooked to my core. I found my way to a 24 hr. convenience store and literally begged for refuge. A kind English man said that I could stay. He sat me down in a section of the shop and said I could wait there until the bus. Relief was short-lived because soon enough the actual shop employees informed me that he was just a regular and that I could stay, although it wasn’t necessarily favored by them. In this instance, I am thankful for my baby face and the fact I’m a young girl.

Moral of the story:

Pay for your safety. Pay for a better flight time/ location- or maybe even consider transit options before you buy the ticket.

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