5 Reasons Not to Drink Alcohol When Traveling

I’m not against drinking alcohol. I like my glass of wine with a meal, and I’m never going to say no to a good sangria or even a shot of the local whiskey or rakia. However, there are some good reasons why you should lay off the booze while you are traveling.

This might come as shock to many. It seems to be stereotypical of travelers to always have a beer in the hand, to stay up late partying every night or to try as many drinks with the highest percentage of alcohol in one’s travels. Many of the most-liked travel photos even have an unnoticed beer or cocktail somewhere in the shot.

Some solo travelers, like Adventurous Kate, will tell you that champagne is a travelers best friend.

With all that said, here are some reasons why you should consider sticking to healthier drinks as you travel.

1. Drinking is expensive

Drinking Receipt in Las VegasSome places in the world are cheaper than others for alcohol. Yet, except for perhaps the Balkans and the Czech Republic, you’ll be hard pressed to find countries where alcohol is cheaper than other drinks. In many places, a cocktail costs more than a decent meal, and even a couple of pints can really add up.

I’ve seen travelers double their dinner bill by adding on a drink or two, and I’ve seen others blow 100 (or much, much more) on a night of partying.

Unless you’re a millionaire and never have to worry about money, budgeting your finances is going to be an essential part of your travels. Even if you have a large budget, managing it well could lead to a longer vacation, better attractions or some cash left over for a another trip. Don’t let alcohol drain all your money in your travels. Set your budget, and don’t budge it.

2. Drinking causes you to do embarrassing things

It can be quite humiliating to be embarrassed by a fellow traveler under the influence of alcohol. Sure, a recording of their antics might get a few hits on YouTube. But is the disgust the locals give you really worth it?

Be aware of the customs to where you are traveling. Some places like Prague and Krakow will just laugh when you get drunk, and sadly in Edinburgh you’ll fit right in, but many places (like Italy and parts of Asia) find it highly disrespectful to be drunk in public. You represent the country you’re traveling from. Don’t give yourself and future fellow travelers a bad name.

Girl Falling Off Cliff
Girl tripping on a cliff dive in Chiang Mai (she landed fine)

3. Alcohol makes you forget

When I travel, I like to remember what happens every night, good or bad. It’s all part of the experience. I can’t think of anything worse than showing up for some wonderful event or festival in a new city, and not being able to remember it later.

What’s worse, whether you believe various researches or not, many of my friends who take drugs or alcohol routinely complain of bad memory. So whether it’s remembering a good evening you had, or your entire trip, laying off the alcohol is a great idea.

Absynthe and Alcohol Party at Hostel
Absynthe Party at Budapest Hostel

4. Don’t waste your nights at the bar

Going to a new city is all about experiencing something new. Yes, there are some bars around the world which are certainly unique. There are some cities where the nightlife is definitely a main part of the attraction. I would always recommend a visit to the pubs district when visiting Dublin or Brussels (but don’t actually buy any drinks in the Temple Bar part of Dublin). The difference is that you can get drunk at home just as well.

Look into what activities are available in the location you’ve traveled to at night. Many cities offer local dance classes, some have epic parties and others are nice to just watch the sunset in.

Landsort Sunset
Sunset in Landsort, Sweden

5. Hangovers aren’t fun

I’ve yet to meet anyone ever who enjoyed the feeling of a hangover. Whether it’s a migraine, vomiting or feeling completely smashed, there’s no “good” feeling the morning after a binge.

Worst case scenario are the bus tours (not mentioning any names, but none I’ve taken personally) which take you to one town, drop you off at a pub to get drunk, and then drag you out of bed the next morning to drop you on the bus, where you sleep your hangover off on the way to your next town and pub.

Get up early to enjoy your travels. If you want some great photos, the morning is usually the best time to get them. If you’re already spending your savings on a short trip to a new country, I don’t recommend losing half the time in bed.

Sunrise Over Angkor Wat
Sunrise Over Angkor Wat. Up at 4, photo before 5.

Summary: Don’t get Drunk

There’s nothing in the steps above that says you can’t ever drink. Alcohol is a great complement to many dishes, and drinking socially is practically mandatory in some societies (like Russia!).

The injunction to drink responsibly should be followed at home just as much at home as on the road. It just becomes more important based on the above points. Saving your money for other activities and more traveling, giving yourself and your home country a good reputation and taking care of your body are key when traveling the world.

If you’re a budget traveler like me, you really have to watch every penny. There are certainly ways to save on drinks. Purchasing alcohol at a market instead of a bar is almost always cheaper. Some places will give you free drinks or shots. Sometimes friends will buy you a drink, but if everyone is expected to buy a round, it’s a quick slope to getting drunk, and not cheap either!

Save money and travel some more. Stay safe. Enjoy your travels. Don’t get drunk. And above all, have fun.

Selfie Tasting Whiskey at Glenmorangie Distillery
P.s. I never finished this shot of whiskey! What a waste.

I'm not against drinking alcohol. I like my glass of wine with a meal, and I'm never going to say no to a good sangria or even a shot of the local whiskey or rakia. However, there are some good reasons why you should lay off the booze while you are traveling. This might come as shock to many. It seems to be stereotypical of travelers to always have a beer in the hand, to stay up late partying every night or to try as many drinks with the highest percentage of alcohol in one's travels. Many of the most-liked…

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