Clinic Stories

They Won't Let You Back

While traveling I prefer to stay in hostels. You meet interesting people, they always know the best places to visit, they almost never have televisions but do have libraries, they have kitchen facilities so you can cook you own meals and they are inexpensive. Because I keep kosher being able to make meals is invaluable. A day's worth of food weighs about two pounds so with packing light, it is easy to take along two weeks of food. You may think that there are restrictions that would make carrying food into another country difficult. Not so much. As long as you avoid meats, fruits and vegetables nearly any packaged food can be taken anywhere. Canned or bagged fish, rice, mashed potatoes, crackers, nuts, chocolate, dry cereal, oatmeal and energy bars can keep you going for a long time.

After 19 days in Australia I was waiting in the airport to return home. A travel bureau representative, a young Chinese woman, approached, asked if I was returning from vacation and would I take a survey. After the preliminary questions she asked if I took any tours? Yes, and described them and the cost. What did I spend on hotels? I explained that I stayed in hostels, some were included in the tours so around $300. “$300?!?!” she repeated, astonished by the small amount. I explained that hostels are typically $20 to $25 per night, some were included in the tour, so it might have been slightly less. She then asked about food, how much did I spend? I told her that I brought most of my food with me, supplemented with some fruit, had a few drinks and a beer or two, probably $75. “$75? For 19 days? They're not going to let you back.”

I haven't tried to return though I think I would not be blackballed. It is amazing how inexpensively travel can be. In New Zealand I ate only what I brought and spent nothing on food.

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