Mark Byrnes/CityLab

4 things to consider when you're pretty sure you might vomit on your way home.

It's 3 a.m. on a Saturday, and it's time to go home. You're 30 minutes away from your apartment and that last shot of tequila is not playing nice with the nachos you scarfed down earlier. Face it: you stand a good chance of throwing up en route. And now you have to decide, with what's left of your lucidity, where you'd rather be if and when it, err, comes up.

In the back of a taxi? On a subway platform? When the time comes, you're not likely to be able to stop the forces of nature, but hopefully you’ll have the presence of mind to consider the following.

Safety. Walking home is probably the best way to minimize the social and economic consequences of barfing in public—the fresh air might even do you some good. But if you’re stranded in the middle of the night and you're inebriated, pounding the pavement may not be the safest option. As always, it’s best to travel with a buddy. If you do decide to go it alone, be aware of your surroundings, especially nearby trash cans for sudden-onset spewing. No one likes a sidewalk spewer.

And no matter how clear-headed you think you are, do not attempt to bike home. You’d be risking your own life as well as the lives of countless pedestrians and motorists. In Colorado and Oregon, you could even get slapped with a DUI for drunk biking. Now’s not the time to get your bike-share money’s worth.

Motion sickness. Does your stomach turn during even normal car rides? If so, riding home in a taxi might exacerbate your nausea. Be prepared to ask the driver to pull over whenever you feel sick, and if at all possible, bring something to use as a barf bag just in case. Whatever you do, don’t be a hero—if you overestimate your ability to keep it all down, it could cost you.

Cost. Some cities have mandated taxi clean-up fees to help defray the costs associated with inebriated riders. Expect to pay, for instance, $25 in Toronto, $50 in Chicago, $100 in Austin and San Francisco, and up to $150 in Savannah, Georgia. If your city doesn’t have a set clean-up fee, you’ll be subject to the whims of your cab driver—in which case, tip generously. You’re compensating the driver not just for the clean-up, but for the fares he or she will lose in the meantime.

Ride-hailing apps won’t let you off the hook either. Uber drivers can charge anywhere from $100 to $200 for clean-up, and Lyft drivers up to $250, depending on the extent of the damage. Plus, don’t be surprised if you receive a less-than-stellar passenger review.

If those penalties are too steep for you, by all means, take public transit. But bear in mind that doing so can significantly widen your potential splash zone.

Number of casualties. Sure, you’re about to have a terrible night (and morning after), but there’s no sense in ruining it for everyone. If you get in a cab, you’re only inconveniencing one very unfortunate driver. On a bus, you have the passengers to consider as well. In a subway car, you might get away with grossing out just one carful of people (who will probably flee immediately and allow you to shamble home scot-free). But in certain transit systems—like Austin's MetroRail, with cars coupled together into one vehicle—the whole train could be taken out of commission if you puke. Either way, you will endure the ignominy of Being That Guy/Girl.

On the other hand, you probably won’t remember this tomorrow. The bottom line is: ask a friend to help you, be as prepared as possible, and for the love of all that's holy, aim away from innocent bystanders.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. A photo of an abandoned building in Providence, Rhode Island.
    Perspective

    There's No Such Thing as a Dangerous Neighborhood

    Most serious urban violence is concentrated among less than 1 percent of a city’s population. So why are we still criminalizing whole areas?

  2. a photo of cyclists riding beside a streetcar in the Mid Market neighborhood in San Francisco, California.
    Transportation

    San Francisco’s Busiest Street Is Going Car-Free

    A just-approved plan will redesign Market Street to favor bikes, pedestrians, and public transit vehicles. But the vote to ban private cars didn’t happen overnight.

  3. a photo of a WeWork office building
    Life

    What WeWork’s Demise Could Do to NYC Real Estate

    The troubled coworking company is the largest office tenant in New York City. What happens to the city’s commercial real estate market if it goes under?

  4. Bicycle riders on a package-blocked bicycle lane
    Perspective

    Why Do Micromobility Advocates Have Tiny-Demand Syndrome?

    In the 1930s big auto dreamed up freeways and demanded massive car infrastructure. Micromobility needs its own Futurama—one where cars are marginalized.

  5. a photo of Extinction Rebellion climate change protesters in London
    Environment

    When Climate Activists Target Public Transit

    The climate protest movement Extinction Rebellion is facing a backlash after disrupting commuters on the London Underground.

×