Agony and Conference Travel

Posted on April 17, 2011

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This last week I was at the IfA conference in Reading. Getting there involved a 5 hr train ride down, from Edinburgh, and a 9hr train ride back. The nine hours was not planned but it’s what happened after there was a problem on the tracks and the train was slowed down. Not only was it slowed down, but those same problems caused other trains to be cancelled. This meant that my train was packed wall to wall with hundreds of people, most standing in the aisles (it was the last train north from London). All trying to eat, sleep, and use the bathroom on a train that was taking twice as long as usual. Oh and there were crying babies too.

To move about the cabin meant touching more people, in more inappropriate ways, in more inappropriate places then a Roman Orgy. Basically, if you have seen any of the movies or read any of the literature on the trains to Auschwitz that is an accurate description of this train ride.

Side-note, my fiancé says I exaggerate to much… but she was not there. Even so, I apologise to anyone who might find my comparison of that Eastcoast train to the holocaust in bad taste or belittling to the horrors of Hitler.

After the train ride from hell I swore that I would never save a few quid by taking a train again. So, today, when I found Hipmunk.com I was overjoyed. Hipmunk is like your normal travel search website but it presents your search results, instead of by price, by agony. Agony is based off of the factors of travel, time, layovers, stops, connecting flights, and costs e.g. the agony you will experience on your trip. I think it is a brilliant way to decide which flight to take (figure). They also do a pretty nifty hotel version of the website that creates a map based off different factors such as food, tourism, Vice, etc. If only they had a train version a few months ago.