Travelling sober: The Good and the Bad

Not drinking at social events often raises a lot of questions and when you travel (particularly when you’re young), not drinking is a peculiarity. Here’s why travelling sober is awesome (and a bit of why it sucks…)


The Good

       It’s a money saver

If you’re penny pinching and trying to make your money last, cutting out drinking is one of the           easiest ways to save your money. You would be amazed how much cheaper going out to dinner or dancing is when you swap the cocktail for a soft drink or better yet a glass of water.


        It’s a safety net

If you’re travelling alone, being drunk is a slippery slope. Your judgement is poor and you’re more likely to accept drinks from people you don’t know, make bad choices about who you leave with and even forget where you’re staying. 9/10 times you’ll probably get home safely and won’t think anything of it. But if you don’t have a safety net of trusted friends around you, it won’t hurt to swap the beer for a lemonade.


        You won’t feel like crap the next morning

It’s an obvious one. But it can be baffling how many people save for months to go overseas, only to spend their days hung over or in a daze from the night before. You didn’t travel abroad to stay in bed or fall asleep on the bathroom floor (hopefully…) You don’t need to eliminate nights out entirely, but going easy on the drinks will probably give you more appreciation for that landmark or museum at 10am the next morning.


       You’re less likely to lose something 

We’ve all been there. You’re having a few drinks and you decide to compare ID photos, or passports, or mind each other’s keys. Or wallets. Or phones. Next thing you know, you’ve lost your passport, your keys are MIA and you’ve got no chance of making that flight at 9am the next morning. Logic will (hopefully) prevail if you cut out alcohol and your wallet will stay safely where it belongs.



       Your waist line will thank you

Granted you may not drop a dress size if you’re busily enjoying the wonder that is European pastries, but alcohol is one of the biggest contributors to weight gain. You may not think about your liquid intake, but cutting out the beer can go a long way.


You won’t be a liability

No one wants to be the girl drunkenly wandering off on a busy street. Or the guy who wakes up his hostel dorm mates with the sound of him throwing up. It’s embarrassing for you, inconvenient for the people you’re with and is not a good way to make friends. Despite the jokes, no one REALLY wants to hold your hair, or chase after you if you run off.



       You’ll actually remember some of the amazing people you meet

The people you meet when you travel will be some of the most interesting you’re ever likely to meet. Swapping stories with a Swede, dancing with a Dane or chatting with a Czech is made all the more enjoyable if you’re able to follow it up and it isn’t just lost in a haze. Being able to look back and remember the people who made an impact on you is one of the best parts of travel. Do all you can to make sure you won’t forget.

marina bay

Of course, there is a downside…


       You can feel like the outsider

Especially on tours or in hostels, drinking is part of the travel rite of passage. It bonds people together and forms a large part of night time activities.

The solution: You can still go out for a dance or to a bar and not drink. Get a soft drink, act confident and no one will think twice about whether or not you’re drinking.

 hoi an resort

       It can be harder to let your guard down

When you’re sober it can be much harder to “let loose” and chat freely with people you don’t know. For most people alcohol can be a safety blanket in uncomfortable or unfamiliar situations and without it you can sometimes feel too shy to approach people.

The solution: The good news is, you really DON’T need alcohol to chat or dance with people. Trust me on this. Five years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of hitting the dance floor without having a drink… now you can’t keep me away and the most I’m running on is a pink lemonade. Confidence is really a mind game, so just fake it till it comes naturally!



       You can miss out on some local delicacies

This is probably the most annoying part of being sober when you travel. Missing out on Glühwein in Germany or special Christmas beer made only by Monks at a monastery in Prague (yes, it is a thing) can be a bit of a bummer.

The solution: A lot of the time there are non-alocholic alternatives to regional favourites. If that fails focus on the food.Glühwein is great, but so are German bratwurst or Hungarian Lángos (which if you didn’t know is basically fried dough). Leave some room for other delicacies and you won’t even think twice about missing out on a glass of the local favourite.



…so should I drink?

It really comes down to personal preference. There’s nothing wrong with having a drink, but going without alcohol on some days on your trip will do both your liver and your wallet a favour! You never know, you might even enjoy it…


So what do you think? 

Do you ever swap alcohol for a soft drink when you’re travelling? Do you find alcohol helps you have more fun? Leave a comment below! 

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