By Jade Johnston
Sometimes as a budget traveler we need to make those difficult budget decisions. Now, I’m not talking about splurging on an amazing meal, or a once in a life time experience – I’m talking about… airport taxis.
I hate taking airport taxis
When you arrive to a new country, no matter how much planning you have done before hand, you are still an easy target. Groggy and stuff from the plane, you wearily grab your luggage and head out the door. Now, if you are anywhere in the less developed world, chances are you will be met by hordes of eager taxi drivers. Chances are, there may also be no public busses either at the time you arrive, or even, full stop.
This happened to me when I arrived in Samoa
Should I Sleep In The Airport?
I arrived at the unreasonable hour of half past midnight. Luckily I was able to change some money at the airport. All my pre-Samoa planning (which was limited due to the fact of the limited information about Samoa out there) had pointed me towards the best budget option – to sleep in the airport.
I wanted to avoid the long ride to Apia, since I planned to head in the other direction, to Savai’i the next day. My only accommodation option was the airport lodge, at a cool 140 tala per night. As a budget traveler, that was simply unacceptable. Sleep in the airport seemed to be the best idea, and besides, I have slept in many, many airports in my day.
Upon leaving customs I was met with a rude awakening. The airport lounge was one room, open to the elements. Most of the space was taken up by plastic seats, bolted to the ground, of which most were filled by single men. Single men who didn’t seem to be waiting for their flight, since I definitely noticed a stark lack of luggage at their feet. The air was hot and sticky, and the sights outside showed a throng of taxi drivers, competing with each other for fares, while wild dogs ran in and out of the arrival lounge.
I was suddenly reminded of my aloneness – and, annoyingly, of my femaleness
I tried to brush off the second notion, thinking to myself that I would sleep in the airport in an instant if only I had a companion… even another girl. But the fact remained, I did not feel comfortable, as a single woman, sleeping alone in this airport.
A taxi driver approached me, noticing my trepidation, and began coaxing me to share a cab with another couple. He promised to take me to a very cheap motel. He knocked 20 tala off the usual price of 60 tala.
I hesitated for quite some time. 40 tala would be enough for an additional night of accommodation. 40 tala is 20 dollars. And boy, do I hate taking airport taxis. It goes all against what I stand for as a budget, independent, public transport taking traveler.
But finally reason prevailed… is my personal safety worth 40 tala or not? Scrimping and saving on accommodation is one thing – I will happily use shared washrooms in exchange for a cheaper rate. But is my personal safety something I should be so cheap with? In the end, I shared the taxi with the couple. The taxi driver did indeed take me to a very cheap, and secure, motel in Apia. In the morning I was able to catch public transportation to the ferry terminal – and all for less than I would have paid for the airport lodge. Yes, it was more than I would have paid to sleep in the airport, but at least I was still in one piece.