Drinking is an important part of socializing, and socializing is an important part of traveling. It encourages bonding and half-coherent attempts to describe yourself in another language. As long as you can remember the previous night, you can come out of the experience with a new travel buddy and cultural knowledge. Many hostels have pub crawls precisely for this reason. It’s no secret that you’ll have a better time if you make some friends.
However, drinking abroad is not the same as drinking at home. Even though it can add to your trip, there are a few things you should keep in mind while consuming alcohol abroad.
Your journey starts in the airport. If you’re considering packing alcohol in your luggage, read through TSA’s regulations. You don’t want to miss your flight because TSA finds Bacardi 151 in your bag. Also, consider that most liquor bottles will take up valuable packing space, and most airports and tourist areas will sell some type of alcohol. If possible, purchase your booze once you arrive at your destination.
Although, considering that some flights take around sixteen hours, you might want some liquor minis to encourage a more tolerable flight. These are 1.7 ounces, so you should have no problem getting them through security as long as you keep them in a large plastic baggie. Try not to flaunt your minis, though, as airline staff might be a little miffed that you’re cheating them out of a few bucks. Also, while a few drinks can certainly help you sleep, don’t overdo it. You’ll want to experience the city when you arrive, and that’s best done with a clear head!
Research the Local Drinks
You’re there to experience something different, right? Try to step outside of your comfort zone. There might be a speciality drink, like hot wine in the Czech Republic or hirezake in Japan . Do some research to see if there is something specific to the country that you’re visiting. Even if there isn’t, you might find a special name for a common drink that could come in handy while ordering- like a cuba libre, better known as a rum and coke.
Local beers and liquors tend to be cheaper as well, since they don’t have long distances and borders to cross, so if you looking to save, stick with the local!
Be Conscious of Cultural Differences
Make sure you’re aware of the country’s legal drinking age. Globally, it ranges from 16-25, and in other places it’s completely illegal. This is definitely a necessary piece of information! For example, don’t be outraged if you see teenagers drinking in Germany or you’re denied entry to a club in Puerto Rico for being too young. There is a different set of laws in place in these countries, and you need to respect them.
Similarly, the attitudes around drinking can vary widely too. Locals might look down on public drunkenness the same way that Americans view public nudity, or they might think nothing of it. It might be an expected part of your daily meal or only reserved for celebrations. You should do some research online before heading out, but the best way to know this sort of delicate cultural perspective is to ask a local. I guarantee that they will be more helpful than Google, and you both might learn something out of it.
Knowing the cultural differences can save you from embarrassment, but you can also use it to your advantage. Some places will give out free food with an alcoholic drink! Being aware of small things like that can save you a lot of money. Just remember to drink a lot of water.
This is an important category to consider no matter what aspect of travel you’re looking at, and for good reason. You are in an unfamiliar place with limited resources. However, drinking provides it’s own challenges here, as you will not be as alert as you normally are. To avoid disaster, make sure you:
- Abide by the cultural customs you learned. Most will be understanding if a drunk foreigner makes a mistake, but it’s best not to risk it.
- Do not drink alone. Besides just being depressing, there is safety in numbers. Drinking will make you stand out as a target, so be with a friend you trust to watch your back.
- Don’t take valuables with you. Obviously, you have to bring some form of payment, but don’t bring your whole wallet. Check your pockets every time you leave a bar to make sure that you haven’t lost anything.
- Know some keywords in a relevant language by heart. If you only have a vague idea of some crucial vocabulary, you won’t remember when you’re drunk how to say “bathroom”, “car”, or “help”. Those few words could be the difference between and good and a bad night.
- Commit the address of wherever you’re staying to memory. Write it down if you need to. Taking the card of the hotel/hostel is great to hand to taxis as well.
Being in a foreign country already comes with a set of challenges, and drinking only adds to that. All the same, the social benefits usually outweigh the risks. While it’s important to take these tips into account, also realize there are some things you will never be able to anticipate. For some reason, none of the clubs in Granada have toilet paper. There are some situations that will force you to improvise while intoxicated, but as long as you’ve got the basics covered, you’ll be able to go home with nothing worse than some mild alcohol poisoning.