Travel: Don't Try This at Home

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The Independent Culture
The last chapter of Susan Griffith's book is called `In Extremis', and deals with survival when broke. `The Independent' does not endorse these suggestions.

Free accommodation

Travellers have on occasion found a free bed for the night by asking at police stations if there are any spare cells. According to US law, all people (including non-citizens) can demand protective custody. You are most likely to be successful (and escape unharmed) in peaceful country towns: the police may have other uses for their cells on a Saturday night in Detroit.

One reader recommends huts in large garden centres, which are often left open and provide a good night's shelter. Your luggage can be safely stowed in a locker at the station during the day.

Free food and drink

Ask tourist offices whether there are food or drink factories nearby that offer guided tours; these normally end with free samples. For example, distilleries in Scotland hand out miniature bottles of whisky, and Kellogg's in North America provides a selection of miniature packets of cereal.

The book's publisher had an odd experience in a New York self-service restaurant. Having eaten his Waldorf salad he went to the water fountain. On returning to his table to conclude his repast he found a tramp-like character busily wolfing down the much-longed-for apple pie: the unwanted guest promptly fled.The victim spotted the culprit peering through the plate glass window with several pals, in search of customers who left their tables leaving uneaten remains still on the table.


You can buy a carnet of 10 Metro tickets in Paris at two-thirds the price of buying the tickets singly, then sell the individual tickets to travellers, splitting the difference in cost. You may even get the full face value from busy commuters who don't want to queue for tickets at rush hour (or you could just get arrested for your trouble).

Tourists on beaches and in bars are often happy to pay over the odds for properly pre-stamped postcards and a pen with which to write them.

Bodily fluids

Many countries pay blood- and plasma-donors, especially the US and Middle Eastern states. Fertility clinics pay (typically pounds 20) for sperm samples. Usually there is a requirement to have been resident long enough for your blood to be tested.