People have always woken up in strange places after nights out. Twenty years ago, that strange place might have been "Scarborough", or "fully inside a bin". Now, thanks to cheap air fares and the ease with which we can book flights through our phones, those strange places are increasingly becoming "Reykjavik", or "a foreign country I didn't actually know I was in until Snapchat geo-filtered my selfie".
It seems that every couple of months there's a report of a young man who's gone out for a quiet drink, ended up shitfaced and then boarded a plane to another country. They'll wake up the following morning and post what they've done to Twitter or Facebook. A tabloid will pick it up, the LADBible will give him their seal of approval ("Lad gets munted and wakes up in SALZBURG") and the story will disappear, making way for another extremely similar one a month or so later.
Is this an identifiable trend? Should it be given a proper name, like "planeover" or "Divine Punishment"? Hard to say. But to illustrate just how common it is, I got in touch with four of the many guys who've experienced it (to varying degrees: some woke up in other countries; some in micro-states and on other islands) to find out how they ended up where they ended up.
"HOW BAD CAN IT REALLY BE?"
One night, my friend and I decided to do a bar crawl in Chelmsford. After many drinks, I'd lost my friend and was watching the X30 bus roll past. The bus takes you directly to Stansted Airport for just over £10 [€11,5]. At the time, I thought it would be a good idea to book a last minute flight through my phone and hope to end up somewhere less grotty, cold and rainy as Chelmsford. That could be any number of places, but the destination I settled on was Barcelona.
After boarding my flight, falling asleep and waking up, I suddenly realised the severity and seriousness of the decision I had made. All I had on me was an empty bottle of water, the clothes on my back, a wallet and a phone.
I got off the plane smelling of Jägerbombs and Joop! Homme aftershave from the previous night, and called my parents. My dad advised me to spend a few days there, so I booked a return flight for three nights later and spent the following days exploring Barcelona, speaking to people and enjoying the weather and the food. I'd then go back to my hotel after dinner to wash my clothes in the shower, as I had no spares.
In general, my trip taught me to enjoy my own company and not worry about what others think. After all, if it doesn't kill you or put you in prison, how bad can it really be? That's my new motto.
– Alex, from England
It started in a small French port in the town of Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Myself and two co-workers had knocked off work on a Friday afternoon and gone straight to the beach, via Carrefour supermarket to pick up a slab of beers. I can remember our whole time at the beach and even packing up the towels and putting our rubbish in the bin. We had spoken about going to Monaco for a night out at this club we'd heard of, La Rascasse, but I doubted that it was ever going to happen because we were way too pissed to make our way there.
So that's when I seriously lost track of what happened.
Having lost six or so hours, I woke up in a hospital at the top of a huge cliff overlooking the Port of Monaco. The nurses told me that the police had dropped me off, and I insisted that I should leave the hospital because I had to be back at work by 8AM. I remember trying to leave and the nurses threatened to call the police, saying I wasn't sober enough to get back to France.
I was pretty much fine, except for scuffed knees and a massive bump on my forehead. My clothes were in a plastic bag on the floor – god knows where my shoes were – so once the nurses left I got dressed, climbed out the window and ran confused and shoeless downhill in search of a train station. When I got to the main street a girl I knew from work yelled at me from across the street. It was about 6AM; she'd been out all night and said that she saw me at La Rascasse. She asked if I was OK and pointed me towards the station, but also took a photo of me and found it hilarious that there was still a drip hanging out of my arm. I ended up making it to work on time.
Sam, from Australia
AN EXTREMELY TERRIBLE IDEA
I was about 17 and out with my best pal, Daniel. We were pretty slaughtered at this point, and most of my friends had done the responsible thing and headed home. We used to catch the NightRider bus back home in those days, and when it got to that point someone brought up the idea of getting the next flight out of Melbourne. So instead of going home, we got on the bus to the airport. Next thing we knew we'd arrived on the freezing cold island of Tasmania.
With the very minimal amount of money we had left over we bought some novelty hats, went to a golf course and hired a golf buggy, leaving us with less than $10 [€6,7] for food. We didn't even play a hole of golf; we just cruised around discussing what a couple of idiots we were.
We flew back completely exhausted and dehydrated. I don't think I've ever regretted something so much in my life.
Tom, from Australia
I was at my brother-in-law's stag weekend in Munich. We all decided to chip in €20 to a kitty for the night, and the hotel gave us a wristband with its details on it, which meant I didn't need to be responsible for my phone or wallet, so I left them behind. After many drinks I'd lost my crew, so I jumped in a cab and showed the driver my wrist, which no longer had a wristband on it. I dribbled some nonsense and he kicked me out.
After another 20 minutes of trying numerous cabs to no avail, I tried my luck with the driver of a nearby coach that was being boarded. I begged him to let me on, hoping there was a chance it would go past the hotel I couldn't remember the name or address of – but he said no. So I walked around the coach, and when the driver had his back to me I dived into the luggage hold and hid behind a suitcase until the door was shut.
When the luggage door eventually opened five hours later, I jumped out and ran around in circles, trying to get my bearings. I noticed signs for "Zurich", which I thought must be a town in Germany, until I noticed the flags of Switzerland. After walking around for an hour or so, I decided to go to the police. I told a policeman the story, he turned to his Swiss colleagues, told the story in French, and the entire police station was in fits of laughter. He gave me some sandwiches, cigarettes and a letter to give to the ticket inspector. When I got to Munich I had no phone, no money and no clue where I was, so I walked around for hours until I noticed the train station we'd got off at when we arrived, the club where we started and finally the fucking hotel.
Jordan, from England
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