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Eat for Free in Airports

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Here is a travel tip for a sort of gross way to save precious travel funds when in hard places where food is expensive and you are hungry: a place like an airport. This tip comes from the depths of the old punk rock days of living in attics without a penny to my name. This is a tip about the revered ground score. 

I set this travel tip up for use in airports, as they are places where travelers spend a good deal of time and food is often far too expensive to even consider purchasing, but it can be used anywhere that has people wealthy enough to buy food and not eat it.

The ground score is when you scour the tables of upper class restaurants for uneaten food that is set to be thrown away and then rescuing it for your own consumption.

Simply put, when you are in an airport look around at the tables and on top of the garbage receptacles of the food court or restaurant areas. There will often be piles of food that is left behind by people either rushing to catch their flight or wealthy enough to not eat food that they have purchased. It is rather easy to capitalize on extravagance and to not let otherwise good food to go waste. When you see someone leave their food behind get to their table and grab what you want and stick it in a paper or plastic bag and walk away.

Scavenged food in JFK’s airport terminal 5. I suppose this photo does not do this tip justice, these fries were slightly less gross than they look.

Be slick and quick when you do this, as you may get security called on you if you get caught. Just grab the food and go eat it somewhere else without making a scene. Chances are – or at least in my experience – nobody will bother you as you claim a free meal that you could not possibly have been able to pay for.

[adsense]The ground score can also be applied to restaurants in wealthy and fashionable sections of cities. Just go for a stroll through these areas, which fortunately often have sidewalk patios, and look for recently abandoned food to quickly grab and gobble up. It is my impression that wealthy or business people often eat at restaurants for their social or business functions and not necessarily to fill their bellies. Capitalize on their excessiveness and fill your belly.

Travel Tip #25: The Ground Score, or How to Eat in Airports for Free

As always, take this tip and fuel up for free, or pay $10 for a plate of crumby airport food. Either way, thanks for reading.

Walk Slow,

Wade

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Filed under: Air Travel, Budget Travel, Food, Travel Tips

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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