Modern economics, travel edition

It just goes to show:  if you can’t manage your business efficiently, others will find a way to buypass it (and you) entirely.

A student travelling from Newcastle to London found an ingenious way of avoiding shelling out for a pricey train ticket – by flying to his destination via Spain.

Bargain hunter Joe Furness found the cheapest one way ticket to the capital, searching the night before his trip, was £78.50, and so decided to look for alternative – and cheaper – options.

The 21-year-old scoured the internet and found he could fly to London via the sunny Spanish island of Menorca for a bargain £26.99.

Upon arriving in the Mediterranean, the commuter had 12 hours to explore the island and headed straight a beach, which he had “all to himself”, in a budget hire car to enjoy the sunshine.

“Basically, you can have a night on a Spanish island, hire a car, have a cocktail on the beach, fly back to London and still have £40 left over,” he explained.

He documented the journey and posted the video on his Wandering Joe YouTube page to “show how ridiculous the UK train fares are”.

There’s more at the link.

I’ve learned to do this myself – and not just when it comes to travel, either.  I routinely comparison-shop over the Internet.  For a lot of things, I find I can get significantly better prices online than local stores want to charge me, even including shipping costs.  I accept that brick-and-mortar stores have higher overheads, and because I want them to be around when I need them, I shop at them for many of my needs:  but I refuse to be ripped off for fifty to a hundred per cent more than I can pay online for the same goods!  If they do that, sorry . . . they’ve lost my business, and I’m unlikely to give them a second chance.

(I’d like to know how large a part that’s played in Sears’ current financial woes.  I found it consistently overpriced, with staff who didn’t know what they were trying to sell, and stores that were dirty, poorly stocked and awkwardly laid out, making it hard to find what I wanted.  I stopped shopping there some years ago.  From what I hear, it hasn’t improved, so I have no incentive to go back there.  Another example is car dealerships, particularly used cars.  It’s sometimes cheaper to fly across country to buy a car, then drive back, rather than patronize local dealers.)

At any rate, kudos to Mr. Furness for finding an inventive and fun way to get around high rail fares.  I hope the railway companies will learn from his tale . . . but I suspect they won’t.



  1. Related to Africa, and the US, Louisiana was almost the Hippopotamus ranching state. Given your posts on how dangerous hippos are, I thought you might find
    stocking the bayous
    with hippos as a meat source, a bit alarming.

  2. Seems the link for shopping used cars is broken. I'm currently trying to find something myself and its looking like I'll be going that route with the high costs of used trucks out here in Wyoming.

  3. Hey Peter;

    I have used the internet and EBAY to get car parts, when I can get the same part for half of the money. I do shop the brick and mortar store because sometimes I have to have the part real soon versus waiting a few days. I did buy my truck in another state because the prices of F150's in Georgia and especially in Atlanta were real inflated.

  4. We quit shopping at Sears when their extended warranty folks started adding things to our account either without asking us or after we had declined the coverage. Last straw was a garage door opener warranty, it was in a house that was long sold. Cut up our Sears card and rarely go back, if we do go into a store we pay cash.

    The Fox link will work, I had to open it in another browser though.

  5. Part of Sear's problem is that they never moved their mail order business to the Internet.

    If they had, in any kind of useful manner, they might be "the Sears-Roebuck of the Internet" rather than Amazon.

  6. Reminds me of the round trip airline ticket dilemma. Two different round trips ticket split up to get dates you want are cheaper than one fair. Airlines will try to crack down on occasion, but if you don't use the ticket, miss flight ?

  7. Sears has had, over the years, no shortage of internal failings, probably related to its years-long position as one of America's largest retailers. Being big, and especially, being large and scuccessful, breeds incest, and incest becomes built in to the corporate culture. When one's bread is well buttered inside the company there is no incentive to look outward, and eventually that catches up to the best of outfits.

    Sears, BTW, was decidely not a "best" of the retail outfits; competitors found it easy to cherry pick pieces of its core business – Home Depot, Lowes and others, selling appliances; Walmart selling the lower end home furnishings; smaller "boutique" stores taking the prime pieces of the clothing business, etc.

    Were it not for the internet Sears may have been able to hang on for a while longer, but AlGore's ones and zeroes are the nails in the coffin.

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