Sometimes you just need a drink. And when you travel abroad, whether it be for business, vacation or schooling, it’s almost a prerequisite to have a glass of wine while out to dinner or a fruity cocktail while sunbathing on the beach. It’s just- what you do. But before you pack your bags for your destination, keep these drinking tips in mind and you’re bound to have a pleasant drinking experience. Bottoms up.
1. Learn how to say cheers in the local language
Before you throw back a drink, take a second to spread good wishes to the locals with a cheers. It not only shows respect, but it’s a great way to gain respect (and let’s face it, not all locals freely grant that to tourists). So if you find yourself in Germany, cheers with “prost” or if you mingle with the French, cheers with “À votre santé.” The Ireland cheers, “sáinte,” is similar to the cheers in France, but in Spain, a “salud” is appropriate. If your neighbors speak Mandarin, use “Gānbēi” (pronounced gan-bay) and if you visit Thailand, “choc tee” is the way to go.
2. Find the local watering holes
As you set out to explore the liquors of the land, download a phone app that lists nearby sellers. The DrinkedIn BarFinder app, available in over 100 countries, provides users with reviews and locations of nearby bars, pubs and clubs. As an added bonus, the app’s makers are in the process of adding on a feature that will provide users with nearby bar deals. Although a little less informational, the free AroundMe app is also a good one for finding nearby bars and pubs. If you need turn-by-turn directions, download the GPS navigational app, NavFree. This app will not only bring you to your destination, but if you find yourself lost by the end of the night, it will also bring you home.
3. Experience local/national drinks
If you’ve traveled thousands of miles to reach your destination, why not taste test the local liquor? Try out sake (rice wine) in Japan or a caipirinha (a mixture of lime, sugar and cachaça) in Brazil. If you’re brave and/or looking to get hammered, give the traditional Irish drink, Poitín, a taste. This whisky was illegal for over 300 years due to its potency, but it’s back and showing its consumers who’s boss. If in Korea, try the traditional drink, soju, a sweet-tasting vodka, or if in Russia, try kvas, a mild sour fermented grain drink. Just remember: some alcohol may be stronger than what you’re used to (ahem, Poitín), so if your itinerary doesn’t include a blackout or a hangover, know what you’re drinking.
4. Plan a trip during a drinking holiday
There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the drinking customs of a country than to visit it during a holiday that involves lots and lots of drinking. If you’re not into crowds of drunk people, stay far away from these celebrations; otherwise, consider the following: the annual 16-day Oktoberfest that takes place in Munich, Germany starting in September; the full-moon party in Koh Phangan,Thailand during the full moon of every month; Australia Day, which takes place on January 26 with celebrations through the country or Dublin's St. Patrick’s Day party in March.
5. Get familiar with drinking customs
Honoring the customs of a particular country is not only a sign of respect, but it is also a great way to avoid awkward social situations (after all, no one wants to be that person who offends the guests). In Japan, rather than fill your own glass, you should only fill the glasses of others and leave no one with an empty glass. Typically, it is rude to refuse a drink in Japan as well as in Korea. In Russia, it’s polite to wait for the toast before you start drinking and is respectful to completely finish a drink (usually a shot of vodka) once the toast is finished.
6. Drink responsibly and know the laws
Of course, you want to have fun when you travel abroad, but the fun stops when you put yourself or others in danger. Before you reach your destination, brush up on the local laws, including the drinking ages. In Morocco and Vietnam, there is no minimum drinking age in pubs and restaurants while in Costa Rica and Ireland, the minimum drinking age is 18. In Germany and Belgium, alcohol consumption in many public areas is legal, while in Hungary, it is illegal.