The Do’s and Dont’s of Partying Abroad
Photo credit – Simon Lesley Photo
As more young people go on holiday with their friends every year, tourist hotspots are increasingly selling themselves as partying and club scenes – with themed nights, potent fishbowl cocktails, and hundreds of other off-the-leash Brits having a wild time and casual sex. There’s a saying: what goes on tour, stays on tour. But if you’re not careful when you’re on the booze abroad it could end up changing your life forever.
You might think, while on holiday, that being a British citizen gives you a free pass out of trouble – if you’re a victim of crime, the consulate will sort it; if you get arrested, all you’ll get is a slap on the wrist. You couldn’t be more wrong: you’re subject to the often very different laws of the locality you’re in and they may choose to make an example of you or ignore your complaints. The consulate will provide support in terms of translation and travel money transfers but can’t negotiate with police, investigate crime or hire you a lawyer.
So here are a few don’ts and dos – with them and some common sense you can drink safe this summer:
Don’t: do activities drunk. Swimming, snorkelling or even hiking while under the influence or hungover is extremely dangerous; dehydration in hot climates, lack of coordination and unfamiliar scenarios are a recipe for disaster. Accidents can in the worst cases be fatal and in the best cases be expensive, as any evidence that you had alcohol in your system while doing potentially dangerous stuff like skiing will invalidate your travel insurance.
If you’re travelling with a company that offers daily activities, avoid paying for them in advance. If you’ve paid and go on to have a heavy drinking session the night before, you’ll be left unable to take part and short of cash.
Don’t: go it alone. Almost 300 rapes and sexual assaults were reported by Brits on holiday between July 2010 and July 2011 (FCO figures) and alcohol is the most common denominator: if you’re not in control, you need to know a friend will be there for you.
Don’t: drink and drive. Not only is the legal limit much lower in some countries than in the UK, it can vary depending on your age, the size of your vehicle and the level of your experience. Driving on a moped is just as dangerous if not more dangerous than driving a car: just because you don’t have to pass a test to be in control of one doesn’t mean the laws are laxer when it comes to being intoxicated behind the handlebars.
You’re going to be driving on strange roads, often on the right hand side, that could be dangerous or ill-maintained at the best of times – drunk, you’ll be extremely lucky to escape unscathed.
Do: know the local laws. Those that think they’re drinking responsibility could end up flouting the most basic restrictions, so check the legal drinking age and attitude to public consumption with the FCO before you set off.
You might find your preconceptions about the culture aren’t true: for instance, the legal drinking age in France is 18 and marijuana is illegal in Jamaica. Pleading ignorance won’t cut it so make sure you know where the boundaries are.
Do: unto other countries as you would have done to yours. Alcohol-related arrests could involve nudity and public urination, stuff you’d never do at home but risk abroad. People have been arrested for wearing beachwear on the high street and getting frisky in public places – or worse, getting violent. Drinking too much has been the catalyst for many a brawl abroad, because it lowers your already lowered inhibitions. It’s a good idea to have at least one person stay sober (or sober-ish) for the evening, to keep you safe and under control.