Indirect



David Whitley looks at when travelling the stupid way works out better than the smart way

When I lived in London, I learned a few strategies for making journeys across town quicker. If heading from Tooting to St Pancras, for example, it’s usually better to switch from the Northern Line to the Victoria Line at Stockwell rather than taking the Northern Line all the way up.

It’s the equivalent of switching lanes in a traffic jam or check-out queues in a busy supermarket – sometimes moving to the other line speeds up the whole process.

Alas, often it just introduces more hassle to proceedings. Often with the London Underground, changing lines to cut out the number of stops you have to go through can be a total false economy – the seemingly interminable walk between the two lines and the wait for the next train to arrive can add on more minutes than you’d save.

And sometimes it’s really not about time saved or money spent – it’s about reducing the hassle factor. If I’m flying from Heathrow, I’d sooner just sit on the Piccadilly Line from St Pancras for an hour and a bit than get the tube to Paddington and switch to the Heathrow Express (or, more likely as I’m tight, Heathrow Connect). Yes, it takes longer and it’s not the most pleasant of journeys, but once I’m on it I can just switch off and read a book until it gets to the destination.

I found something similar when I was in Bangkok recently. I know the various train lines are by far the best way to get around – they’re quicker and cheaper. But unless the place you are and the place you’re going to are on the same line, it’s less clear cut. Because they’re all run by different companies, each change requires a new ticket. And the changeover stations often involve walking a block down the street.

In other words, it’s a bit of a faff.

The alternative was to flag down a taxi from wherever I was standing and tell the driver to head to wherever I was going. The journey would invariably take ages – far longer than hiking up and down stairs, along the block and travelling on trains via any number of ticket machine stops. 

But, if I’m honest, I don’t mind sitting in traffic if I’m not driving, am not in a particular rush and have something to read.

Given that a journey across Bangkok by taxi will rarely cost more than £2, irrespective of how long you’re sat in traffic, it just seemed easier to sit there and arrive when I arrived.

There’s often a lot to be said for doing your research and doing things the smart way. But sometimes the stupid way works out better.