No one likes being stranded in town at the end of a night out, which is why we're so happy that the Tube's going to start running until 2am. But that's not going to happen until 2015 -- so what's the best solution 'til then?
A big danger when you're out and boozing about is that you miss your train home. Of course, you could avoid this by not being forgetful/keeping some modicum of sobriety, but what's a night out without getting ridiculously plastered?
So, your solution to the eternal question "do I have time for one more?" is an app that'll work out which pub you're drinking in, where the nearest station is, what time the last tube home is, and then alert you to let you know what time you need to leave the pub to be able to make it home. The one I've been using is Tube Robot, an iOS app that does exactly what I've described above -- and it's free.
Don't drink and drive. Just don't. The problem is, though, that cruising to your favourite watering hole in a fine automobile is damn convenient. Solution? Either, designated driver (but if there's two words designed to rain on your party, they're 'designated' and 'driver'), or, book a Scooter Man. This is a service that provides a chauffeur to drive you and your car home once you've got pissed. He turns up on a folding mini-motorbike, origamis his scooter into your boot, drives you home, then scoots off into the dawn. It's a bit pricey -- £30ish, depending on how far it is and the time -- but it generally works out a tad cheaper than a taxi home, then one back the next day to recover your car.
Obviously, the go-to for getting home when you've had five too many is a taxi. Yeah, you can hail a cab, but real physical contact is for losers. Taxi apps (assuming you're sober enough to unlock your phone, that is) make the whole thing easier, electronically hailing a cab to wherever you are. In London, there are a few players, but the leader is Hailo, which has iOS and Andriod apps as well as a fleet of 9000 willing cabbies. It also lets you pay by card, which is a big improvement on playing ATM routlette at 3AM.
If you're a bit more organised, booking a minicab is a good strategy. Again, apps are so much better than calling people. ubiCab is my particular favourite, allowing you to book a minicab either in advance or for 10 minutes in the future, and then letting you track the cabbie as he wings his way to you.
If you're a bit more adventurous, Uber is a service that relies on private hire vehicles rather than licensed minicabs; the prices tend to be good, but you can't schedule a pick-up, which is a bit of a pain.
Of course, going for a night out doesn't mean you have to get vomiting-into-the-gutter drunk; if you've been drinking in very careful moderation, you might still be under the UK drink-drive limit (80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, or 35 microgrammes per 100ml of breath); the best way to know, though, is with a breathalyser.
There are a couple of options, from dirt-cheap disposable ones to more sophisticated models. Single-use chemical sticks are good to keep in your car just in case; electronic breathalysers are for the pro boozers among us.
If you're so cheapskate that you don't want to pony up £25 for a breathalyser, there are some dodgy app-based alternatives floating around the place. BreathalEyes is an iOS app that scans your eyes to tell your BAC, supposedly measuring for something called 'Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus'. While this has an itsy-bitsy bit of truth behind it -- in the US, HGN testing is one of the various field sobriety tests used by police -- the app has a different testing methodology to the police and, y'know, it's a £0.69 app. Don't trust it with your license.
The final solution is to never leave your house in the first place. If you want to drink, but don't have any alcohol at home, it's entirely possible to get booze takeaway. Try HungryHouse to find an all night alcohol establishment -- there's a bit of a markup over the supermarket, but they're open all night (well, duh), and you don't even have to be sober enough to stagger down the road. Problem solved.
Header image credit: Drunk man from Shutterstock
First image: Tube from Shutterstock
Second image: Scooterman
Third image: Taxi from Shutterstock
Fourth image: Breathalyser from Shutterstock
Fifth image: Woman with beer from Shutterstock