When we travel, whether backpacking or on vacation, we party. Hard. Late-night boozing is a natural reaction to a lack of work and responsibility, but it’s not always the wisest decision. Turning yourself into a garbage can of drinking and smoking is unhealthy not just for your body, but also your mentality. Days melt into weeks and suddenly you can’t remember the last time you didn’t have a drink. Even on the nights we’re “not drinking”, there’s always a sunset beer or a glass or two of wine with dinner.
The problem is that it’s simply not smart or practical to party hard for such extended periods of time. It’s easy to burn out and lose the focus of your traveling. You have to learn how to pace yourself, and sometimes, that means finding excuses NOT to drink.
So how do we do that?
Hostels are great places to meet people, socialize, and make friends. It’s also your home away from home and other travelers will be weary and need to rest their minds and souls as well. Organize a movie or TV show marathon night at your hostel — there’s usually someone with a laptop full of old South Park episodes. Finding cinemas is easy in every corner of the world and a good mellow movie night can be enjoyed by everyone, even if the film is in a foreign language.
Trivia nights are synonymous with pubs and drinking, but they don’t have to be. Either do your best to ignore the golden elixir you’re craving or organize your own game night. Plenty of hostels and coffee shops have games like Scrabble, backgammon, or Jenga. Or be old fashioned and travel with a deck of cards and play whatever you know. Not every card game has to be a drinking game.
Without hangovers taking over half of your day, your morning will be free to explore new places. Go for a walk in sunshine, whether down the street or up a volcano, get out and enjoy all that daylight has to offer. Hike, run, swim, explore, and tire your body out so it has no energy to stay up drinking all night. In fact, give your body the workout it really needs, go for jog and do some push-ups. Exercise is a rarely used but incredibly necessary activity for a traveler.
Another option is to leave the traveler scene all together. When you’re surrounded by other young travelers with no responsibility and a seemingly endless supply of box wine, it can be hard to resist the temptation to booze. Instead, go away to a meditation retreat and practice Vipassana and yoga. Hike into the mountains and have a spiritual shamanic experience. Remove yourself entirely from civilization and connect with nature. There are places all over the world one can escape to find some quiet tranquility for a little bit. You’ll clear your head, and your body will thank you for it immensely.
Living with a local family has a plethora benefits as well — and not partying is just one of those benefits. You can immerse yourself in the local culture and really understand what daily life is like for people around the world. Without the influence of backpackers around you, you will be more observant and perceptive of traditions and customs and you’ll inevitably feel a more substantial connection to the place you are traveling through.
The point is, no matter where you are or how long you’re traveling, it’s easy to party your nights away with cheap bear and sleep your days away in a hungover haze. But there are smarter alternatives to partying constantly. Partying is fun, and it’s a big part of the travel experience, but you will suffer for it eventually. You’ll either get sick, or you miss out on some of the enriching cultural experiences that world travel has to offer. Take care of your body and mind and make wiser choices on how to spend your down time. Take a couple days off each week — if anything, you’ll finally regain the energy you need to party all night long again.