The 10 rules for drinking in foreign countries

Some of the world's most richly held traditions involve the consumption of alcohol, and some of the most enjoyable pursuits for travellers involve partaking in it. Done right, drinking in a foreign place can be an experience to savour. Here's how to do it right.


1. MODERATION IS KEY

Wherever you're travelling, whatever the culture, it's always a good idea to go easy on the booze. You'll gain the respect of your fellow drinkers, and usually avoid any embarrassing incidents.

2. POUR OTHERS' DRINKS FIRST

This is particularly true in Asian countries such as Japan and South Korea, where it's considered extremely bad form to pour your own drink at all, let alone top your own up before everyone else.

3. GO EASY ON PLANES

This isn't just an etiquette thing, though you'll make life much more enjoyable for your fellow passengers if you don't get hammered on a flight. Going light on the drinks also helps cope with jet lag.

4. OBEY LOCAL LAWS

It pays to know the local drinking laws – you're allowed to imbibe in the UAE, for example, but it's against the law to be publicly drunk. In some European countries it's legal to drink on the street; in others, not allowed.

5. THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK

So the new friends you met are all having shots and they want you to join in. Think first: is this something I'd consider a good idea at home? If the answer is no, maybe hold back.

6. GET YOUR ROUND IN

Regardless of what the local custom actually is, it's a safe bet that if someone buys you a drink, you should buy them one in return. That's an Australian habit we can export. 

7. EAT SOMETHING

Look around you: in most countries, including mainland Europe and Asia, no one drinks without eating something at the same time. Follow suit.

8. MAKE A TOAST

In Russia and many surrounding countries, it's custom to toast before every single drink. If you want to do as the locals do, come up with a few words in the local tongue. 

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9. MAKE EYE CONTACT 

If you're toasting in Germany, make sure you maintain eye contact with your fellow drinkers. In fact, this is a good rule of thumb for most countries.

10. SHARE 

Generally, cultures that share their food also share their drinks. In Thailand, for example, you'd order one large beer for the table, rather than one small one for each person.

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