Don’t bother raiding the cutlery drawer for utensils. Leave behind Grandma’s best butter knife and the spoon commemorating Charles and Diana’s wedding. You’ll only lose them and a free and lightweight set of tableware can easily and quickly be acquired from various sources for al fresco or hostel room dining.
Our first port of call for free stuff begins on the plane. Airline knives and forks are now mostly plastic but metal ones are still available on some airlines. It can be a little bit annoying when security has confiscated your blunt butter knife only to be handed a similar one by off message airline staff.
To carry the newly acquired tableware, grab a (unused) sick bag and, while we’re here, take the opportunity to snatch any other goodies that aren’t nailed down. Airline staff can be possessive about headphones but you won’t regret taking that small blanket when you’re on a night bus up in the Andes. Eye masks and socks are also items typically available.
Stealing is bad, but getting caught is much worse. When travelling via connecting flights get the tableware on the second flight. It can be embarrassing when your Lan Chile (for example) branded cutlery sets off the beepers while going through a second set of detectors to get on another LAN Chile (same example) flight.
Small items such as salt, pepper, coffee, tea, jam, honey, ketchup etc can usually be picked up in sachet form at takeaways or from hotel breakfasts. Where they are free, get into the habit of taking one or three extra. These little luxuries can sometimes be scarce, expensive or available only in bulk.
McDs, BK, KFC or local versions are handy for napkins, straws and toilet paper. Camera film containers (remember them) are best for carrying small quantities of these items. Some restaurants may also give out wet wipes (they do in Turkey). Wash your hands under the tap and keep these for when running water is unavailable.
Water bottles can usually be bought locally for peanuts, kip or dong but there is nothing wrong with some of the plastic ones that come wrapped around purchased water. Reusing these is an easy way to recycle and some of the bottles, such as those from Thailand, make better souvenirs than purchased ones.
Discretion is key but it is unlikely that you’ll be wrestled to the ground if spotted. Tutting is probably the worse one can expect. When it comes, however, to the most important part of a dining experience, the food, it is best to put your hand in your pocket and actually buy it, ya cheapskate.
Our thanks go to the Iberia for helping us to research this piece.