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Why I Rarely Drink When I Travel


By Tessa Juliette, POPSUGAR

Three years ago, while trying to save money for a big trip, I went on a strict spending diet. Included in this diet were tons of rules. No more afternoons spent wandering around Target. No more Chipotle for dinner because I was too lazy to cook. And no more buying alcoholic beverages at bars or restaurants.

Now, don't get me wrong, I still went out (and missed my tequila shots terribly). But now, mostly, I was the sober friend. The one who would drive everyone home. The one who was sipping on selzer with a spritz of lime. After a few weeks, I couldn't believe how quickly my savings were piling up. It really is true: you don't realize how much you're spending until you stop. But what I also realized, quite quickly, is it's still fun to go out when sober!

[post_ads]Fast forward to final preparations for my big trip, you know, the one I went on the spending diet for. I was three days away from three months solo traveling Europe. Reality — OK more like nerves — were starting to hit me. I was a youngish woman, traveling alone, who didn't want to put myself in a bad situation. I wanted to make the most of this trip. Even with what I had saved, I didn't have a tremendous amount of money. So I made a bold decision: I wouldn't drink at all on this trip.



Looking back, I wasn't afraid of the actual not drinking part. I was afraid of telling people "Nope, no drinks for me tonight." Would I get weird looks? Would it be isolating? Would I be missing out?

Those answers would be no, no, and no.

That stigma that I thought was associated with nondrinkers ended up being nonexistent. So was that isolation I thought would eventually follow. If I stayed at a hostel, I continued to be social — I simply picked water over wine. I sat at numerous bars, in many different countries, and ordered a meal instead of a drink. Conversations still happened with the staff and other travelers around me. I even went on pub tours to meet people but told the tour I wanted to join sober. No one batted an eye.
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Three years, over 20 countries and many more solo trips later, I still very rarely drink when I travel. I have stopped caring about what other people may think about me not drinking (Seriously, why do we care so much what others think?) and now I have so many reasons to rarely drink. No hangovers mean I'm out sightseeing by at least 8 a.m. — if not earlier. Gazing at the ocean while the sun rises or sitting at a coffee shop as a city begins its day are some of my favorite memories.



Not drinking also equals more money to spend on other things. Like a gorgeous dress I picked up while in Cuba, that I wear all the time. Or a day-long excursion to interact with rescued elephants in Thailand. I can say with certainty I'll remember that a couple of decades longer than a random night I went out in Barcelona.

Have I been tempted to drink when I travel? Sure! Read the title of this article again. It's why I rarely drink, not why I don't drink. Prime example: During a recent trip to Japan, I had the opportunity to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo. My room came with access to the all-inclusive club lounge which included various bottles of wine and spirits from Japan. I reminded myself not to go overboard, but also didn't think twice about enjoying a glass of bubbly while gazing at Mt. Fuji.
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Life isn't black or white. And at the end of the day, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. If you're thinking about giving sober travel a try but are worried, let me reassure you, you will be fine. It isn't the end of your late-night life, your crazy adventure life, or your fun life. Those things are all still there. You just have a water in your hand instead of a tequila shot.


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