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Backpacking in Brazil? You should probably try to find a bossa nova club or hit the streets of Rio or Salvador for carnival. Off to Australia? Taking the time to work out how big a schooner or a pot of beer is will likely feature on your agenda. Travelling through Thailand? You’d have to be really lacking in curiosity not to be intrigued by the rooftop bars, nightlife and red light district of Bangkok.

What we’re trying to say is that it’s a normal part of most gap years to spend time in bars and clubs. They can be a massive source of fun and memories for many people, so knowing how to handle yourself whilst enjoying the nightlife is important. Here are some top tips:


Stay with people you trust

Don’t be tempted to leave the people you know and trust in one bar and head off to another bar with a group of strangers. They probably are exactly who they say they are, but you don’t know that. And you really do know where you stand with your existing friends and travel companions. Trust your instinct and if you wouldn’t do something when sober, it is best avoided after a few drinks.


Don’t leave drinks unattended

Pretty obvious, and no different from being on a night out at home: don’t leave your drink unattended. Similarly, don’t accept drinks from strangers. Having your drink spiked could have significant consequences so it’s not worth the risk.  Staying with trusted friends reduces the chance of your drink being spiked.


Plan how you’re getting home

Do you know how to get back to your accommodation? Does this require a taxi? If it’s walking distance, is it a safe walk through well-lit areas?

Knowing the answers to these questions in advance makes it much easier to get home safely than trying to figure it out at the end of the evening. It’s also a good idea to keep a note on your phone with the address of your accommodation on it – that way you can refer back to it should you forget it. If possible, be observant of landmarks on the route to and from your accommodation in the daylight or when sober that will help you when travelling back later in the evening.


Know where you are

It’s not unusual to find someone who knows a great place to go and to be happy to follow their lead. It can be a great way of finding the best bars and clubs but it’s ok to ask for the address so that you know where you’re going to be. Knowing where you are is also crucial for the previous point – it’s hard to get home from an unknown location. Perhaps carry the name of your hotel or hostel with you – they are often at the reception desk.


Don’t keep valuables on display

Don’t flash your cash or your fancy iPhone. There’s really no need for expensive jewellery that could mark you out as a target either.


Steer clear of trouble

If you can sense that tensions are simmering or see that a fight is about to start, steer clear. If you need to do something about it, find a bouncer, staff or police officer rather than intervening yourself. Don’t be afraid to leave a bar or club if you get a bad feeling about it. Trust your instinct, there will always be another night out.


Charge your phone before you go out

If you need to find a friend, call a taxi or work out where you are, you’ll be cursing yourself if your phone has no battery left.


Learn the language

If you’re in a country with a different language to your own, learning a few useful phrases can be invaluable. Consider looking up the phrases for “Can you help me?” and “How do I get to <hostel name>?”




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