This isn’t a PSA, but about your drinking…

… it’s something to think about. But seriously, it is.

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 Caerphilly Castle, Caerphilly, Wales. Summer 2013.

The thing about drinking (pretty much all the time, but especially if you are traveling and doubly so if you are on a budget), is that it can really throw a wrench into your plans if you aren’t thinking about it. I am not just talking about financially either, but that is a good place to start. FINANCIALLY, both at home, school, or on vacation, alcohol is a serious drain on a bank account. When you are on vacation, however, this can really take away form the rest of you budget (and do you really want to cut out food, shopping, or entertainment?). There are a few ways to cut down on this drain, however.

First, figure out the areas HAPPY HOUR. Sometimes, happy hour will mark down the price on both food and drinks. Saving on both of these will allow you to put more money into your other areas (or back into your drinking budget…) and there can be great people around during this time where drinks are cheaper. And of course, where there are more people, more entertainers may be out in these areas, too; cheaper food, drink, and free entertainment? That’s definitely something to look into. However, there are also dangers involved in the happy hour dilemma. Sometimes, the reason that drinks are cheaper during happy hour is because they contain cheaper booze or are simple well-drinks. Both of these lead to a higher chance of getting ill and/or a serious hangover the next day; basically putting a damper on that bit of your trip. This can be exacerbated as the lowered cost may lead you to drinking more. This not only adds up in cost (negating the reason for going to happy hour) but increases you chances at getting drunk (and the consequences of that). Personally, I stick with bottled drinks; they’re usually cheaper just like other drinks without changing their quality. Even at happy hour, if you are drinking mixed drinks, it is better to pay a little more for higher end drinks and nurse your drink a little longer, than drink more, cheap stuff.

Second, like we discussed on Walking like a local, being in a tourist area will seriously cost you. Go out of tourist areas and into LOCAL HAUNTS. I can’t say it enough:, tourism is a business and they get as much out of there customers as they can. Going out to where locals go instead; you’re less likely to be overcharged here and other local events tend to be centered around them, like a local band or traditional, cultural show. To find these haunts, you can use many of the tips on the post mentioned earlier.

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Duke of Kendal Pub, London, England. Summer, 2013. Photograph by Kevin M Gallagher (My dad!)

So, where besides financially can drinking harm your plans? Well, I have a few stories to explain the real “what if”s that can come from… over indulging.

In Galway, on a tour to go see the Cliffs of Mohr, we met a boy from our area who was the spitting image of a young Heath Ledger. We’ll call him SCOTT. While the trip was lovely and Scott seemed to enjoy his time running around each of the stops, the reason he was there was because of alcohol. As it turned out, Scott and his sister had spent the few days (or what sounded like the whole week) prior in a bit of a haze. Two days prior, his sister got on a plane to Stockholm, Sweden with the plan that her younger brother would join him the next morning. Instead, said younger brother was laid up in their rooms still drunk from the night before. While he was able to reschedule his flight with seeming little trouble, this isn’t always the case. Alcohol has the ability to make you miss parts of your already planned trip—parts that may not be able to be reimbursed or rescheduled—if you aren’t careful. In fact, if you aren’t careful, you could do much worse than simply miss some plans.

So now onto Dublin and a boy we’ll call COLIN. Colin was also a SoCal of about 19 years—not old enough to drink legally in the US but as a soon to be college sophomore, it was heavily implied that this was not his first rodeo. He was in Ireland researching the Irish famine for a grant paper which he planned to start after a few days of sight seeing. For his first night in town, he bought himself a four pack of 16 oz ciders which he polished off in quick succession. During this time, we—Colin, a 30 year old Aussie we’ll call Jaime, (for a short time, my sister) and I—sat around reading, talking and playing guitar. At about midnight, my sister was fast asleep in bed and the boys decided they wanted to go out.

There was a club quite literally around the corner from our hostile and after a bit of cajoling—and a note to my sister (Never go anywhere with strangers without leaving some kind of note, please. And never someone you aren’t comfortable with. I believe in being spontaneous and adventure happens when you push your limits but always make choices in the favor of safety!) –I agreed to join them. I am not a drinker, so even after paying the fiver—an entrance fee—I didn’t drink while we where there (except a sip of Colin’s Guinness to try—not my cup of tea. Another small PSA—I know I said this post wasn’t one but this feels necessary—never take a drink you haven’t seen poured or had your eyes on the whole time. I was at the bar and watched the drink from the bartender pouring to Colin holding to me sipping.).

Colin, however, did. We stayed in the club—more like a sweat box with wall to wall bodies, grinding—about an hour and a half at most. In that time, we had navigated from the first to the second floor, I had managed a few conversations, received a few compliments (despite my baggy jeans, tee-shirt and oversize satchel), a kiss on the cheek, one not so subtle “so, California, you know how to party”—apparently, I look like a drug dealer—and we had managed to loose Colin, who was—the last we saw about an hour in—at least two pints of Guinness and an offer to go to a party after with a nice group of girls he’d met and immediately bought drinks for. Jaime and I looked as best we could for him but by the time we made it too the other side of the rooms and the doors, we figured there was no way we’d find him. The last time we’d seen him, Colin was talking clearly, walking straight, and seemed to be doing fine. We weren’t far enough from the hostile to be worried… or so we thought.

At about 4 am, my sister and I woke to what sounded like plates shattering on the roof. I looked out the foggy window, but couldn’t see anything so we went back to bed.

We didn’t see Colin the next morning. We didn’t see Colin after our day exploring. As it turned out, we wouldn’t see Colin on our trip again (as Jaime explained via the girl at the front desk who exclaimed “Oh, you’re friends with THAT boy!”). As it turned out, at about 4 am, one very intoxicated boy named Colin stumbled back to the hostile, where he discovered he had managed to loose his key. Being intoxicated, he did not knock on the door and pay the fee for a lost key but grabbed a near by ladder and, placing it against the building (and breaking in one of the windows, hence, the breaking glass that woke us), proceeded to climb onto the roof.  As he tried to get in through one of the rooftop windows, inside someone else was calling the cops. When the police showed up, Colin concluded his night (and the future of his trip) by throwing roof tiles at them rather than come down. While we were hearing this story, Colin was sitting in a jail cell for his parents to be contacted and bail to be paid.

See, worse than missing a flight.

On a lighter note, there is one more drinking tale I’d like to share based on my sister’s drinking misadventures from our time in Edinburgh. Anyone who read my second post on lodging knows my love for the Bus Station Backpacker’s hostel. The owner and her trainee at the time took my sister and I—again, not big drinkers—to two or three pubs our first night in which ended with us halfway across the city with bladders full of a pint/pint and a half or cider each. It was a lovely night and none of us were intoxicated, so the four of us decided to walk back through the city, seeing the sites at night on the way. A few blocks from our final destination, the owner and I were commenting on how quickly the others were moving down the hill; if it were either of us, we would have fallen by now.

Upon reaching the hostel and descending the outside stairs, we found the door open and my younger sister standing pitifully outside the door. When asked what she was doing, the reply was simple, “I didn’t make it.” We asked what she hadn’t made and she explained that they were running for the bathroom and she “hadn’t made it.” And with that, her cheeks turned scarlet and her blue jeans turned darker. Once we collected our selves, I heard the other woman ask, “Sweety, why didn’t you just run in and do what you could.” My sister responded, making her the darling of the hostel’s owner, “I didn’t want to mess up the new carpet.”

The moral of the story, if you have to walk across town or really any distance from your final pub to the place you are staying, heed the advice of all parents everywhere and use the restroom before you leave, even if you don’t feel like it.

With love and laughs and hopefully some sound and useful bits of advice, until next time,

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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This isn’t a PSA, but about your drinking…

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