All of my happiest vacation memories are about alcohol. From the welcome glass of slightly warm cava on arrival at the hotel to the last beer before boarding a flight back to reality, a constant flow of alcohol is a key part of every trip.
I’m not much of a heavy drinker at home, usually adhering to a weekend and party-only rule and often attending sober October, dry January, or whatever month later becomes a teetotal event co-opted by the ‘business. However, on vacation, when normal periods need to be suspended, the right dose provides that undeniable blend of relaxation and dizziness that simply elevates the experience.
Basically – except for a regrettable night in the bowels of Brooklyn – I’ve never had a major hangover overseas. Well, at least not one that couldn’t be quickly remedied with an invigorating swim in the sea, or even another beer – âWhy not, you’re on vacation! “
When I flip through my biggest vacation hits in my head, in the most vivid snapshots, I always sip a drink. And it’s not just about cocktails on culturally informed beach vacations. On my first safari in Tanzania the highlight was, of course, seeing a day-old elephant and a brood of young cheetahs. However, it was the sunset in the bush – a g & t served in an antique apothecary chest – that provided the break and calm to reflect on these moving moments. And when traveling to a remote location, a bottle of local beer can ease culture shock and allow budding Britons to fully immerse themselves in their surroundings.
For hazy and happy memories, no destination quite compares to Thailand, a place I’ve been to many times. Whether it’s sickly throat-burning âbucketsâ of Thai whiskey and red bull, slipped onto beaches on my gap year, or more recently thimble-sized gimlets overlooking the river. Chao Phraya from Bangkok, drinking has been at the heart of my experiences in the country. Many street food adventures have been accompanied by frozen pitchers of Chang beer, which I shared like water with guides while perched on fluorescent plastic stools sipping insanely hot curry noodles.
Now Thailand is finally back on the holiday menu, dropping off the red list earlier this week and announcing on Monday that it will reopen to tourists from a number of “low risk” countries, including the UK, from November 1st. Previously, vacationers had only been able to enter the country through its convoluted “sandbox” system, which involves a mandatory seven-day stay in Phuket and several tests.
With most other countries in the region still firmly closed, the reopening is cause for celebration. But before you pop the champagne, read the fine print. Thailand is currently facing a major wave of Covid and still has a number of restrictions – remember? One of the more specific rules is the ban on alcohol in bars and restaurants across the country, which will be in place until at least early December. Yes, travel next month and it will be a trip to ‘Dryland’.
Everyone has their hill to stagger drunk and mine is alcohol. Traveling now means accepting various pandemic-induced inconveniences and I can deal with mask warrants, social distancing measures and frequent testing, but please just let me have my margarita.
It is not yet clear whether tourists will be able to drink in their hotels in Dubai, but I do not see this as a decent solution. I have never seen so many alcohol-soaked tourists as I did during a stay in a desert city skyscraper hotel, which is surely due to the alcohol consumption in the places , leading to a strange compound mentality and ultimately to overindulgence.
While I really don’t see how this relates to the spread of Covid, I fully understand the dangers of alcohol. My dad has been sober since the late 90s after it became clear he could never have a few drinks. And I’m not saying that he and my total growing number of friends aren’t enjoying the holidays so much. But for those of us fortunate enough to be able to drink in moderation, it’s one of life’s great pleasures, and something that can connect us to others and light up destinations.
A friend shyly admitted yesterday that he postponed his long-awaited November vacation in Thailand to February due to the alcohol ban. She felt embarrassed to admit that a sober trip wasn’t worth taking, perhaps reflecting our complicated relationship with alcohol in this country. Still, when the rules relax, I’ll be on the first plane – probably enjoying a drink mid-flight.
The Telegraph, United Kingdom
See also: Vacation destinations where you can’t drink
See also: Why must every Australian tradition involve alcohol?