Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01

Back in January, I addressed some interesting and controversial feedback I received from my reader survey. I loved the discussion that ensued, and hashing out a complicated topic with you guys in the comments. Let’s do it again, shall we?

Tubing in Vang Vieng

How much drinking and partying is too much drinking and partying, when you travel? Clearly, based on the unsolicited survey feedback I received, opinions are mixed — cue inappropriate cocktail shaker pun.

In an open-answer question that asked what readers liked about Meihoukai in Wanderland, an intriguing thread emerged. Some responded that they love that I feature party scenes around the world, that I show a realistic representation of having fun in my early 20s, and that, I quote, “you feel like a friend sharing travel tales and not someone telling a sanitized travel story to their grandma.” Though actually, my grandma does read this blog — hey gram! — I happily accept those kudos.

Yet I also received a few comments from people who feel the opposite — readers who think that I write too much about this side of traveling, and even expressed concern for me. As part of a family that knows too much about the dark side of addiction, I was touched by that concern, even if I believe it is misplaced.

Clubbing in Ibiza

Do I party too much? It depends on what lens you look through. When I discussed this with a few of my travel friends, they summed it up better than I could. “Anyone who thinks you party too much has clearly never been a part of the expat community in Southeast Asia,” said one diving pal who reckons I lean more to the responsible and boring side of the scale. It is impossible to explain to someone who has never experienced it what a big part of the backpacking experience alcohol-based socializing is. That’s not to say that you can’t avoid it — there are plenty of non-drinking travel bloggers out there to prove it — but for me and for countless others, it is a part of the package.

Of course the acceptable threshold of partying varies not only by person, but also by destination. A weekend in Vegas is going to be far more debaucherous than a getaway to Martha’s Vineyard. In South America, I was drinking and partying significantly less than I did in Southeast Asia. It’s true, Southeast Asia definitely brings out the partier in me — it’s the place on earth where I feel most alive, and perhaps that makes me feel like it’s totally no problem to go out dancing until five in the morning and then plan a full day of blogging, yoga, and brunch on the beach the next day. But overall, I would say that when in “travel mode,” many people drink more heavily than they ever do at home. If I had checked in at my local bar every single day in the past week and stayed out drinking past midnight for half of those here in Albany, my mom would be holding an intervention right now. In Koh Tao, it would just be Thursday.

Partying at the Full Moon Party in Thailand

And is there anything wrong with that? That is not a hypothetical question — it’s one I’m interested to hear your opinions on.

On one hand, I can understand having a frustration with roaming ravers. I’ve met my fair share of travelers who arrived in Thailand and woke up drunk on the beach five days/years later. They’ve never set foot in a temple, visited a local market, or made an attempt to understand the country’s complex culture in between their binges. And then there are those who are disrespectful to the locals or the land in their pursuit of a good time. Try as I might not to judge, I can understand rolling ones eyes or shaking ones head at those travelers. Mostly, though, I just feel bad for those who don’t see the destination beyond the drinking — they don’t realize that what they are mistaking for the whole pie is just a tiny slice of what is out there to be enjoyed.

Passing my Snorkel Test in Indonesia

On the other hand… The Full Moon Party, Sunjam, weekends in Vegas, tubing in Vang Vieng, at least three nights out of every week I ever spent on Koh Tao, parts of Burning Man — those are memories undeniably intertwined with the wild partying I did as part of the experience. And they were all fantastic. Now, I’m grateful that my travels are rich and diverse, and those escapades were interspersed with hiking trips, cultural explorations, and quiet periods of work and relaxation. But they were just as real, and just as much a part of the fabric of my travels, as anything else I do.

While I think this is a topic that is interesting to philosophize about in public, in reality the answer is a personal one. I know that I have a genetic disposition towards addiction, and so occasionally I ask myself — Am I healthy, mentally and physically? Is this interfering with my passions or my relationships? Am I having fun, or am I escaping? And I’m satisfied with my answers to those questions.

As for the amount of partying that appears on Meihoukai in Wanderland, I realize I’ll never please everyone. But I enjoy taking part in this aspect of travel from time to time, and I’ll continue writing about it for as long as that’s true — I mean, I’m going to this summer, y’all!

Let’s hear it — what do you guys think? Do you drink more when you travel than when you’re at home? Do you think it’s acceptable to do so? I can’t wait to read your comments.

3-devide-lines
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
96 Comments...
  • pilar
    March 27 2014

    Meihoukai, YOU ARE 22!!!!!!! a responsible, independent, bright young lady who has already showed everyone how serious and professional you feel about this blog and your life/profession.
    This blog is not only informative but also entertaining. Need to be that way otherwise we wouldnt follow you weekly. You inspire and entertain us.
    We need and want to know about parties, fun stuff, drinking and dancing the night away. We all have done that!!! you just have the courage to write about it, like an amazing novel.
    Too much drinking???? when was the last time you woke up conciousless in a weird place? Never, right?
    You have your few beers, and then you are up in the morning working and making a living for yourself.
    I wonder how many people can actually say they do that…
    You know your limits and will always respect them.
    Have an amazing time, keep writing and call me as soon as you are back in Spain. DRINKS ON ME DARLING.

    • Meihoukai
      March 27 2014

      Well, these days I’m actually 24 πŸ˜› But thank you for this lovely comment! It really made my morning. I love the idea of thinking of this blog like a novel. I will admit I definitely have had nights or phases where I was partying a tad too hard, but I asked myself those questions outlined in this post and I self-corrected and scaled back for a bit. I think that’s pretty par for the course for those in their early 20s.

  • Jacki
    March 27 2014

    Well said.
    I travel a bit and I may drink more when I’m on a trip, but that is because I prefer to SAVE while at home so that I can do all of my treks and wandering while I’m abroad.
    I never party so much that I can’t make it home. (okay, there was that one time in London but I had a card for my hotel!) Or that my few belonging are in jeopardy. I’d have missed out on some great friends.
    Also, sometimes partying until 2am then getting up at 5am for a trek strengthens the bond between you and your hostel/tour mates, aka friends for life.
    I relate more to the people I’ve met ‘on the road’ than people at home. It isn’t due to the mutual partying. It is due to a common sense of purpose and genuine thirst for a FULL LIFE.
    Cheers!

    • Meihoukai
      March 27 2014

      I can definitely relate to going into “save mode” when home, Jacki! And I agree that when I get together with friends new or old, the stories we tend to retell over and over again are the Hangover-style hijinks! It really does bond you in a strange way.

  • Meihoukai
    March 27 2014

    Hi Meihoukai,
    Of course, travelling and partying go well along, but I guess the two key points much more than travelling itself are the age and the purpose of the journey.
    After some years, or when you are away for your job even in really funky places , you simply don’t feel like drinking too much or getting high anymore.
    Et merde, je parle comme un vieux con maintenant! πŸ˜‰

    • Meihoukai
      March 27 2014

      I don’t know, I’m starting to think it’s less age than mindset. Some of my hardest partying friends are a good decade older than me, and the most hedonistic birthday party I’ve ever attended was a 40th! But then again, those were expats/lifelong travelers, so actually maybe that proves my point πŸ™‚

  • Paul D
    March 27 2014

    Excellent post, and you raise some great questions. Overall, I think you have nothing to worry about, though! Partying a bit while on the road is to be expected – the most important thing is to be true to yourself and to know your limits. I definitely tend to drink a bit more on the road, and I totally agree with your assessment of SE Asia – I also feel more alive there than anywhere else. Sometimes different locations, people, situations, etc lend themselves to different experiences, which is the essence of travel.

    As a reader, I love to hear about how others experience these things, so please don’t stop writing about them! I think you have an excellent balance between the cultural / historical / nature / party scenes. By being yourself you’ve created a great blog – keep up the fantastic work!

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Thanks for the words of encouragement, Paul. And I couldn’t agree more with this: “Sometimes different locations, people, situations, etc lend themselves to different experiences, which is the essence of travel.”

  • becky hutner
    March 27 2014

    i say party on, girl! and tell us all about it. with this topic, it’s so relative. i know some people think i’m a party animal, others, a grandma. either way, it’s an essential part of my travels & my life & i have always been drawn to writers who are willing to dish about these experiences.
    becky hutner recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      It is the same for me! I would say my friends back home see me as a bit of a wild one, which is hilarious because my travel and expat friends are all, “Ugh, Meihoukai, sooo responsible with her laptop all the time.”

  • Jett
    March 27 2014

    Unless you are driving or a cast member of The Hangover II, too much drinking. Come on… Enjoy your time. There is a time and a place for everything that comes our way…. Throw your flip-flops in the air, grab a bucket, feel the sand between your toes and ……. Smell that awesome cup of coffee in the morning as you watch the sunrise across the ocean. Life is good…enjoy..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Your comment made me remember a great saying… “No one ever remembers the nights they stayed in and got a good night of sleep.” πŸ˜‰

  • Katie
    March 27 2014

    Sometimes I hate the conservative world we live in – live and let live! I love that you show so many angles here (historical, cultural, nature, party, etc.), and I honestly feel like there’s a good mix. Ultimately, you can find parties or avoid them anywhere you go… at least if you write about them your readers can choose to read it if they want. At the end of the day you have to just stay true to yourself, and it seems like you’re doing a great job of that. Cheers! πŸ™‚
    Katie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Thanks Katie, I like to think there is a good mix too. I’m guessing those that (very sweetly, by the way) wrote that they were concerned for me were probably not familiar with backpacking culture or perhaps are extra sensitive due to addiction in their own lives (which I can relate to).

  • Janice Stringer
    March 27 2014

    “If I had checked in at my local bar every single day in the past week and stayed out drinking past midnight for half of those here in Albany, my mom would be holding an intervention right now. In Koh Tao, it would just be Thursday”
    Best example of the theory of relativity, I’ve read in a while. thought provoking!!:-)
    Janice Stringer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Ha, thank you πŸ™‚ Currently writing in from Albany, where one night out a week is the perfect amount!

  • Emily
    March 27 2014

    I think we party more while traveling, but haven’t done so much on this current trip until getting stuck in Huacachina and staying at a party hostel. And it was such a blast – we met far more people in those 5 days than on the entire 3 month trip so far!
    Emily recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Oh yes, Huacachina was a bit of a party spot for me as well! I didn’t have many in Latin America but when I did, watch out…

  • Rekha Devarapalli
    March 27 2014

    Hi Meihoukai,

    For a 24 year old, you have a pretty good head on your shoulders, I must say! The rationale and maturity that you display in most of your writings tells us that travel indeed has taught you a lot. Coming to your question, you should party when you feel like partying. There might come an age and time when you don’t feel like and then you wouldn’t anyways. Why worry about it now?
    Rekha Devarapalli recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Thanks Rekha, I agree the answer is a personal one. However blogs are a funny thing because you put your life on display for others to dissect as they wish! I was so surprised to hear that feedback, I thought it would be an interesting post.

  • Naomi
    March 27 2014

    Whilst I’ve had my share of absolute shockers on the road (one particular event being when I was the only gringa in town to boot as well) I think my worst episodes have been in my first or second year at university. That’s not to say I’ve been an absolute angel when I’ve been away but I generally find I am better with respecting my limits because I’m aware of the fact that I normally will stick out or I don’t fully know my way around.
    I think the problem with drinking abroad is like you say when travellers are disrespectful to locals, make absolute twats of themselves which the gives the massive majority of respectful travellers a bad rep. Otherwise if no one is doing any harm to themselves or others and just having fun what’s the harm? Surely a cheeky little bit of partying every now and then whatever age will only do good (at least, that’s what I tell myself)?!
    Naomi recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      I definitely have mixed feelings about places like Vang Vieng, which I’ve written about here. Yes, it was an insanely good time but it seemed to negatively impact the lives of the locals in the area. I’ve heard others argue that they benefited economically, but I don’t know…

  • MCVK
    March 27 2014

    The question “how much partying is too much?” first reared its head when I moved to Washington, DC at the age of 24, and had an almost constant stream of visiting friends for the next 14 years. In turn, I visited them, all over the country and in other countries as well. Yes, we partied hard. Then we all returned to our respective jobs and worked hard. Experiencing the local cuisine is part of the trip, even if the drink of choice is not local. You cannot snorkel in the Caribbean all day, or climb the Pyramid of the Sun at TeotihuacΓ‘n if you’re hungover. Unless there is trouble, or a bartender cuts you off, or you cancel the next day’s activities because of your partying, I think everyone should mind their own business. The U.S. is very puritanical when it comes to drinking alcohol; other countries are much more laissez faire about it and I think it might behoove us to follow their example.

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Yeah, the hangovers are a real killer. With every passing year I find there is more of a tradeoff. If I want to have a wild night out, I kill quite a bit of the next day. That’s why I like traveling slow… enough time to experience the nightlife and the daylife πŸ™‚

  • Michelle
    March 27 2014

    You have some really good points! I definitely party a lot when I’m travelling…hostels are set up for you to party and there’s nothing more fun when a night out with all your new friends from around the world! πŸ™‚
    Michelle recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Yeah, hostels are deadly! I’ve stayed in ones where I actually feel guilty if I have an early night!

  • Sarah Somewhere
    March 27 2014

    This is an interesting topic for me as a recovering alcoholic. I like to say, if it’s a problem, it’s a problem. Many people can drink socially and it enhances a good time, but for many of us, it dominates our life until the point where we are totally powerless over it.

    Some warning signs are doing things you regret, never knowing how the night will go, finding it difficult to stop at a few, and a general degeneration of self esteem. Alot of us get to the point of feeling constantly restless, irratable and discontent and struggle to maintain healthy relationships.

    I did my fair share of international partying at your age and do think it’s pretty normal, but I gotta say it’s such a relief to be sober, and to enjoy myself without a drink, but that could also be an age thing.

    Keep being true to your beautiful self and I’m sure you will be fine! Lots of love x
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      I was hoping you would comment Sarah πŸ™‚ I have really enjoyed reading about your journey and think it is a refreshing voice in the blogosohere.

  • Amanda thePanda
    March 27 2014

    Hi Meihoukai, I’m probably one of those ‘responsible and boring’ types. It’s not that I don’t drink, I go out and have a good time, I’m just getting a little older and know what my body can handle and when to stop. I’m not heavily into the party travel scene but I do like reading your stories of partying while travelling. It reminds me of the good times of my younger days. I generally like to go out and have a few drinks but then I might leave earlier than others. The only thing to be wary of with that approach is that depending on where you are, sometimes it is safer to stay out with others than it is to go home on your own!
    Amanda thePanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      The funny thing is, as I said elsewhere in the comments, some of my hardest partying friends are quite a bit older than I am! I definitely think it’s true that people tend to wind down as they get olde. And so I think it’s a pretty good thing they are living abroad, because I don’t think they’d have many peers to dance the night away with at home πŸ™‚

  • Mary
    March 27 2014

    My drinking habits abroad depend a lot on whether I’m alone or with friends. Being alone in a new place I generally feel safer being sober and tend to drink less. With friends, it’s often a great time to let go and party more than I would when I’m at home and have to be a responsible adult with a 9-to-5 job.

    As long as you’re being safe, respectful and not missing out on anything, I think you should do what you want to do – whether it involves partying or not. I think the fact that you acknowledge your genetic propensity for addiction, ask yourself those questions and make adjustments when you’re not happy with the answers shows a lot of self-awareness and maturity.

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      That’s a very strong point, Mary. When I’m traveling solo you probably won’t find me at the bar ripping shots! But when I’m settled somewhere with a great group of friends I feel more comfortable getting loose. I’ll still go out when I’m traveling along with friends from the hostel or whatever, but I’ll definitely monitor my intake more closely.

  • Amanda
    March 27 2014

    As someone who has traveled in Southeast Asia AND done a backpacker bus in Europe, I totally agree that alcohol-infused socializing is just part of the backpacking experience. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you sharing that part of your travels, especially because it IS a part of your travels. And this is YOUR blog.

    Plus, when it comes to festivals and party spots and stuff like that, I would much rather read about how it *really* is than some sanitized version of things.

    Personally, I don’t drink much at all, unless I’m at home with my boyfriend and don’t have to worry about things. But I don’t have a problem with other people drinking with they travel – UNLESS they are those perpetually-drunk types you mentioned, who get smashed at a bar every night and spend the next day sleeping it off so they can do it all over again. I don’t get those people. I saw it constantly when I was traveling with Busabout in Europe – young (mostly Aussie) travelers who were spending all this money to travel around Europe but then not actually seeing any of it because their daytime hours were spent sleeping off last night’s hangover. Why not stay home if that’s all you’re going to do??

    So that would be my answer to your question. Yes, there IS a point where enough is enough. If you’re drinking so much that you can’t describe anything about a country except what the inside of its bars looks like, then you have a problem.
    Amanda recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      I have never experienced the backpacker scene in Europe… I can only imagine! I ask myself the same “Why are they here?” question about people who never seem to see daylight — maybe they are from really boring towns? πŸ˜› I met a lot of people — mainly guys — in Southeast Asia who truly have not even a shred of interest in anything there other than beaches and booze.

  • Emily at Let's Roam Wild
    March 27 2014

    Thanks for sharing such a personal story, Meihoukai. I ask myself the same questions and too – and am also satisfied with my answers. I too just remind myself that addiction is genetic, to keep myself in check.

    On a lighter note, when I think about how I am whenever I’m traveling, I’m usually feeling an incredible freedom that I don’t feel at home. I think many travelers feel the same and that sense of freedom lends itself well to drinking with and making new friends.

    Keep on keepin’ on, my friend. And hope to have a beer with you one day!
    Emily at Let’s Roam Wild recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Yeah, and when you aren’t beholden to any kind of routine or strict schedule, going on out a Tuesday doesn’t seem like such a bad idea! Freedom is an intoxicating feeling in and of itself.

  • Rashaad
    March 27 2014

    I have no problem with drinking in moderation. Actually, beer signifies a fun time as if I’m drinking, that usually means I’m happy. A lot of my best times in Japan were spent drinking with friends and co-workers. I do love the drinking culture there.

    As long as you’re not driving drunk, doing anything illegal after too many beers and/or alcohol isn’t affecting your work performance, enjoy a beer or two πŸ™‚
    Rashaad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      I think drinking/nightlife cultures can be a really interesting part of travel. I haven’t been to Japan but Iceland sticks out to me as a place with very fascinating drinking traditions. I loved it!

  • Caity
    March 27 2014

    Like with so many things, some people like to characterise themselves and others in finite, black and white terms. Some may see polarised categories of ‘culture’ or ‘cocktails’ but I am defo both! Sometimes I am one more than the other for sure and I think both are important facets in the exploration of a new (and familiar!) place! It’s important to take stock, as you have and I’m sure will continue to do so! Cheers!!!

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Well, I certainly learned quite a bit about Peruvian culture during my Pisco Sour Making class, so I’m inclined to agree with you there πŸ™‚ They can go hand in hand when done right!

  • Kendra Granniss
    March 27 2014

    I think it depends on the person. People travel in different ways. Yes, you party too much…for me. But it’s your blog and your adventure and I love to hear your stories!

    I’m not into partying so much. That doesn’t mean I never like to party. I’m just more of a beer-in-a-pub type of girl.

    What’s important is that you do whatever is good for you. Just be safe and enjoy the journey!

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      I can go for a good cider in a pub sometimes too… and, you know, a good hot chocolate on the couch πŸ™‚ But every once in a while, I really feel the urge to dance the night away! Thanks for commenting Kendra.

  • Pamela
    March 27 2014

    Great writeup Meihoukai! πŸ˜€ When you are travelling, drinking is also a part where you socialise with locals and new friends.

    I used to be extremely cautious about drinking overseas worrying that if I get drunk.. but then I realise, there is nothing wrong with drinking and partying and as long as I know what I am doing, enjoying myself and not to get dead drunk, basically be responsible to myself, no point missing out on the fun. Everything has to be done in moderation.

    You cannot please everybody but you are not answerable to anyone but yourself. πŸ™‚
    Pamela recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      I know how you feel, Pamela. I am very cautious when I am in an unfamiliar setting with all new people and in those cases tend to be very careful about what I consume. I have found myself taking care of a completely wrecked stranger on more than one occasion and I don’t want to be in a position to hope there is someone willing to do that for me!

  • Jimmy Dau
    March 27 2014

    Who are we to judge. I did the same thing when I was 24years old. As long as it doesn’t affect the reason why you’re travelling and experiencing new things. Also if you’re travelling for more than 6 months then it becomes a bit tiresome and you become more selective on how much to drink or you just don’t need to drink to have a good time.
    Jimmy Dau recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Yeah, when I’m traveling long term I go through phases. On my last five month trip through Southeast Asia I partied very hard in Thailand and Indonesia but I took a break in the Philippines in-between. I was also extremely fitness-obsessed at the time, which helped me keep a decent balance!

  • Diana Edelman
    March 27 2014

    “Mostly, though, I just feel bad for those who don’t see the destination beyond the drinking β€” they don’t realize that what they are mistaking for the whole pie is just a tiny slice of what is out there to be enjoyed.”

    This is the statement I most agree with when it comes to binge drinking on travels. Sure, I understand the exotic locale, the strangers who could become friends, the adventure of drinking in a foreign land, but if that is all you are doing, it is one hell of an expensive night out.

    That being said, when I am traveling, I do enjoy drinking more than I would, say, at home. That is because it is social, and there is that sense of adventure. When I was traveling solo for seven months, I drank most nights. However, this coming trip, I am living a healthier life, and while I am sure I will have some nights out, I fully intend to wake up fresh every morning and get the most out of my adventures.
    Diana Edelman recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      “One hell of an expensive night out.” NO KIDDING. But a surprising number of people do it! I think it will be really interesting to compare your upcoming healthier-focused trip with your past experiences traveling through Europe. I hope you write about it!

  • Ron
    March 28 2014

    When I was 24, single, loving life, and living a bit better than when I was at 21, I did many things that I would not share with the world at large. So I am not one to judge.

    We all must moderate our lives which includes partying. I feel you share more than most. That is like everything on the blog, up to you. If all you did was party and travel (yawn) I do not think I would have followed for long.

    I am still here after a few years so your lifestyle is something much more interesting than a non stop party. You are entitled to party in excess as most of us have. I am certainly not one to judge.

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Thanks Ron πŸ™‚ I think that would be a pretty boring blog too. Glad I can keep it lively over here!

  • Steve
    March 28 2014

    I tend to drink more when I am travelling. Also I would say I am a social drinker as I do not drink at home. As I have got holder I have learnt to know when I have had enough. Alcohol has to be treated with respect. I have seen the damage it has done to people. The actions of my step father helped to lead to my mother dying sooner than she should of.
    Steve recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      I’m sorry to hear that, Steve. I too have had some family tragedies that have led me to view addiction with the gravitas it deserves. However, those incidents also make me all the more grateful for the simple pleasures in life, like fun nights out with friends.

  • Jen
    March 28 2014

    Yes I probably drink more when I travel but isn’t that one of the concepts of travel is to relax and do the things that you enjoy. I certainly don’t think your blog is too focused on you drinking but each to their own.
    Jen recently posted..

  • When I was younger I drank almost every night while traveling on a couple trips in Europe. I had so much energy back then I could still wake up at 9 to check out of a hostel and do a full day of walking city tours. Now that I can’t seem to get out of bed after a night of binge-drinking, I actually drink less while I travel.

    Living in Goa, the LSD capital of the world, along with every other drug and trance parties going on until 10 am the next day would have been my dream about 2 years ago. Now I take on the trance scene in doses. I see people here who are destroying their lives and literally haven’t been sober for months. I can imagine living in SE Asia would be the same except with alcohol. It’s great that you love to party there, I did too! I suppose if you moved there you’d have to consider cutting back- but that comes naturally when you’re an expat rather than a traveler.
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      I used the terms “drinking” and “partying” interchangeably in this post but in reality I think the term “partying” can imply some kind of drug intake, which there is a ton of in Southeast Asia (in Vang Vieng there were literally laminated drug menus next to the drink ones!) While I write about almost everything else on this blog I still feel a bit uncomfortable writing explicitly about drugs so I tend to stay away from that topic despite the fact that for many travelers, it is a part of the destination — hence the questions and comments I get about cocaine in South America or mushrooms in Gili Trawangan. But it is still so taboo!

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Oh, and I also meant to say… I think some of my hardest partying days were when I was settled and living in Koh Tao as an expat! In general I think you are right in your assessment but I think the diving crowd is pretty hardcore, and pretty much all my friends over there are five instructors or bartenders. You have new students all the time, so I think that tourist energy keeps everyone young!

      • I get what you’re saying about the drugs being taboo- I mean my parents read my site. I plan on writing about the bhang lassis because they are cultural but I don’t plan on writing about tripping out anytime soon! lol. I’m surprised you partied more as an expat! I feel like being an expat here makes me more “settled” , a little like an old woman. Sometimes I think I live in a fake world like wonderland because it’s just so psychedelic I have to run and hide sometimes or get stuck down the rabbit hole permanently. As Meihoukai in Wanderland you’ll have to be careful when you make it to Goa haha
        Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..

  • Clothes and Creativity
    March 28 2014

    Interesting post, Meihoukai!

    My Husband and I made a trip to Malaysia and Bali last month, and I think I’ll be honest and say that Bintang was consumed more than water (well…slight exaggeration). I mean you get the picture. The days were spent soaking in the rich Balinese culture, visiting Temples and Forests and Beaches, whereas the nights were reserved for clubbing, and clubbing hard! And although we used to party till the wee hours (more like 5 AM), we used to be up relatively early, and scoot around on our bike with equal zeal, trying to explore as much as we could of the gorgeous island.

    So I think a lot depends on the following things:

    1. Firstly, the sort of person (traveler) you are?

    2. What you are seeking from your travels?

    3. The sort of trip (pun intended-haha) you’re on- Family vacations involve a lot less partying and a lot more of ‘dinners, drinks and sightseeing’ compared to say, backpacking or just flashpacking with you partner.

    3. The kind of place you’re visiting- what it has to offer- like you compared South America with South-East Asia.

    That being said, I don’t think we should take a moral high-ground, I mean ‘to each his/her own’. As long as we don’t end up disrespecting the host country’s culture/people, it’s all good(that would seriously piss me off)!

    What’s life without a little partying?!

    Cheers!

    Anya
    Clothes and Creativity recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 28 2014

      Hey Anya, you are absolutely right! Every trip is different, and I think that I just spend the majority of my travels in either expat or backpacker mode, which lends itself to a bit more of a good time πŸ™‚

  • Oliver
    March 28 2014

    I’m a bit in two minds when it comes to the combination of drinking and travelling. I think it depends rather on the approach than on the fact. Is it “having a good time while travelling” or is it “party tourism”.
    To me an important part of travel is “to blend in” with locals and local coventions. And things like tubing in Van Vieng (the only place on your list I experienced myself) in my opinion is pretty much the opposite. For me this place has been quite of a culture shock, but caused by travellers rather than the place and local people. Seeing an entire hostel terrace following some older episodes of Friends, barely covered tourists crowding the streets and entering restaurants bare-chested like ducks take to water or in other people entering temples in outfits that belong to the beach is plain ignorant.
    A potential rule of thumb could be how would you feel back home when you put yourself into the shoes of a local while you are on the road? I think tourism can make and break a place – and it’s a fine line after all…
    Oliver recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 31 2014

      Yeah, the tubing scene is a more complex topic — you should click through and read my past post on it which I linked to here! I definitely had mixed feelings about the experience, though I also admit I had a lot of fun. The point is kind of moot though considering the whole scene there has really been shut down.

  • Robert
    March 28 2014

    Honestly…. without alcohol i would have never ever met this quantity of people. I’m 32 yrs. now and happily meeting new people at parties every single week. It’s great!

    I just moved abroad (to Panama) and alcohol really IS a social lubricant (sorry for the choice of words but you get it). Everyone just gets more relaxed. Love it.

    • Meihoukai
      March 31 2014

      That is very true, and I think that’s why it’s such a big part of the travel and expat scene where you are meeting new people all the time!

  • Erika
    March 28 2014

    I think you took on this topic with maturity, openness, and an unapologetic yet understanding tone. I think that you represent a good balance — having tons of fun but not going overboard! I’m not much of a partier at all, but I’m not about judging it. I like reading about your party experiences! They are interesting and look like fun! πŸ™‚
    Erika recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 31 2014

      Thanks Erika! It’s reassuring to read I’m not alienating readers who do things differently themselves.

  • Joella J (J in Beijing)
    March 28 2014

    You are young, you’re having fun, you’re clearly not the kind of person who only parties and doesn’t experience other sides of travel (obviously, as you have a brilliant blog filled with amazing travel experiences). I’ve definitely had my share of fun drunk/party nights when travelling/living abroad. Less so now because I really can’t be bothered with the hangovers..they get worse! I think as long as people stay safe, still manage to see some daylight and are not complete and utter knobheads (as we Brits say) all the time when drunk or rude to local people, then go for it! I am definitely not put off by reading about drinking/partying on your blog- it’s fun to see all sides of your travels.
    Joella J (J in Beijing) recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 31 2014

      “Still manage to see some daylight” — I think that’s a good litmus test! How many hours of daylight have you seen in the past week? Although, actually, I guess that kind of lets the day drinkers slip through πŸ˜‰

  • Kara
    March 31 2014

    This is a topic I’d been thinking of broaching thanks to my experience last summer in Liberia, where I felt the expat scene was very party-heavy. I personally don’t drink much though I like to go out with friends every so often, and I found that the other foreigners went out 2-4 times a week, every week, at all ages and with varying levels of job responsibility (aka mostly not working for themselves as travel bloggers).

    In general I say “you do you” – it seems like you’re drinking in a pretty healthy way and definitely mixing in some other pretty fantastic parts of travel – but when it comes to the point of mistreating the people around you (whether locals or not) and/or the country you’re in, it becomes a problem for me. What I like least is how much of a bad reputation Americans in particular have overseas and I think it’s in part due to how much travelers drink and party, which is a bummer.

    All that said, I’ve never had a problem with the amount of partying represented on the blog and I think you should include it as it is definitely an important part of your travel experiences!
    Kara recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 31 2014

      That has definitely been my same experience with the expat scene in Thailand. It’s just a different planet! I think it must have something to do with the kind of personality that decides to move halfway across the world and embark on such a crazy ride. They are not likely to be homebodies!

  • Mike of Mapless Mike
    March 31 2014

    I’m 25 and believe that I drink more while traveling as I’m in more of a leisure mode. I’m glad you brought this topic to light as I don’t think it’s often discussed. You don’t sound like you drink too much at all! You’re young and as long as drinking is not dictating your life you are fine in my book.
    Mike of Mapless Mike recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 31 2014

      Yeah, with the stress of daily life removed I think a lot of travelers find themselves kicking back to start sipping on that first drink around sunset, and having no incentive to stop anytime early!

  • It’s really refreshing for you to address this aspect of travel on your blog! I often get nervous about revealing how much I go out on my mine, never knowing if I’m saying too much…or sounding completely lame. Maybe one difference is that you can put it into words so well. I on the other hand just sound so shallow and unintelligible when I try and do it.

    I definitely drank and went out a fair amount in SEAsia, but being on a budget and with my boyfriend toned that down a bit Living in Korea though was the biggest binge drinking experience of my life. It actually snowballed a bit out of control and I’m happy to see history isn’t repeating itself here in Spain. Like Sarah said, when you can never predict how the night will go, and you consistently wake up paranoid about your actions, you know it’s not normal. It’s the worst.

    Keep living it up. You seem to be happy and healthy. YOLO πŸ˜‰

    • Meihoukai
      April 2 2014

      Traveling with a partner definitely changes things. Anders and I partied really intensely when we lived in Gili Trawangan but we had a huge group of friends there as we had each arrived separately and single. Once we got to South America we definitely toned things down! Having someone to watch Law and Order marathons with makes a night on the couch really enticing…

  • tammyonthemove
    April 1 2014

    I think it depends on how old you are really. When I was still in my 20ies I used to party pretty hard. But now I am in my 30ies I don’t feel the need for a lot of partying anymore. I probably go out for a drink once a week, as I still like my beer (I am German after all!). But hangovers get worse the older you get, so that’s as much as I can take these days. πŸ˜‰
    tammyonthemove recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 2 2014

      My mom is always assuring me of that fact πŸ™‚ Actually I know it to be true for myself… I know I feel a few drinks A LOT more now the next day than I did when I started drinking at 17!

  • SnarkyNomad
    April 2 2014

    So I suspiciously feel like I’ve said this before somewhere, but I met a guy who went to Thailand and said you just can’t possibly get the good deals you could back in the day. He was there for a month and spent something like $5000. We were utterly in shock.

    We kept asking him what he spent his money on (having to interrupt his tangents to get back on track), and once we figured out that he was spending maybe $20-30 a day on a room, $20-30 a day on food, $20-30 a day on drinks, etc etc, he finally informed us that he had spent the remaining $50-100 a day on drugs.

    I don’t know where to draw the line on too much partying, but damn. THAT is nowhere close to wherever that line is.
    SnarkyNomad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 2 2014

      Ah yes, you did share that story somewhere. That’s just insane. Yes, that man has crossed the line πŸ™‚

  • Taylor
    April 2 2014

    Drinking and partying is awesome and as long as you don’t go overboard, it’s a good time. But the only reason for my comment is just to say how excited I am for you that you’re going to Tomorrowland!!!! I’ve wanted to go since hearing about it a few years ago and last year they had it just a few hours away from me and sadly (cue the violin with a heavy dose of wine) I had to work :…( and there was no way my hotel would let me get off since it was the super duper busy season. Can’t wait to hear all about it!
    Taylor recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 3 2014

      I’m SO excited to go! So do you work in Belgium or are you talking about the American version Tomorrowworld? Either way, sad you had to miss it!

      • Taylor
        April 3 2014

        I’m talking about the American version, but my goal was to eventually get to Tomorrowland
        Taylor recently posted..

  • I guess like anything else in life it’s a balance. I’ve spent weeks partying too much which is very often followed by weeks with basically none. I tend to flip flop around both ways, it really depends on the company you keep. Nice post, it’s something at always comes up with travelers who’ve been on the road for while. One big factor is just how expensive a party lifestyle gets over time. These days I tend to binge. Party hard for a short period of time then not for a while..
    Pete – Long Term Travel recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 8 2014

      Ugh, such a good point. Party periods really kill my budget — yet another great reason for balance!

  • Jen
    April 7 2014

    Party on, Meihoukai! I love that you kick back and have fun while having the utmost respect and curiosity for every destination you visit. The festivities you enjoy are often a huge part of that culture, and there’s no reason why it can’t be enjoyed.

    Yes, I do tend to drink more when I travel… even if it’s only a weekend ski trip to Vermont. But I, like you, try to mix it with a healthy dose of exploration and education. And respect.

    • Meihoukai
      April 8 2014

      Thanks Jen. This was a great comment to read as I’m packing for… Vegas! πŸ™‚

      • Jen
        April 8 2014

        Nice! Have a great time!

  • Cortney
    April 10 2014

    Partying is a big part of vacation for me, and probably is for a lot of people (especially younger travelers). The thing is, as much as I love staying out all night and dancing for hours, I don’t drink, so I’m in a weird position of being out all night in places where most people usually only go/stay when they’re smashed. I see and remember things most people from those early mornings don’t.

    Probably a good 90% of the partiers are, yes, super drunk, but also fun and funny and having a great time and I enjoy partying with them even though I’m stone cold sober. And then there are the 10% you’ll find in any traveling group who are wetting themselves, puking in the streets, or generally acting like entitled jerks because VACATION!

    I think it’s not really how much you’re partying, but how you’re partying. Are you going insanely over the top due to no social boundaries because you’re not home and there are no social repercussions? Are you doing things you would never do at home, because they would be considered shocking or in poor taste, but it “doesn’t count” because you’re in another country? Are you being really inconsiderate to the locals, or to public/private property, or putting yourself in physical danger because you have that false sense of foreigner invincibility? Then you’re probably making poor decisions and being obnoxious and need to pull back and sober up a bit.

    But if you’re taking shots and dancing on bars with lady boys and coming home with the sun since you don’t have to get up for work the next morning, hey, that’s just a normal vacation night, in my book πŸ™‚
    Cortney recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      April 15 2014

      One of my best friends in Thailand was in your same position, Cortney! She was out as often as I was dancing the night away, but she always did so with a diet coke in hand. She was having so much fun all the time I don’t think anyone even really noticed. I think that takes a special kind of energy, and kudos to both of you for having it! πŸ™‚

  • Anna
    July 20 2014

    As I am in the middle of my first solo trip in south east Asia, I’ve been too scared to let lose! (cuz I’m with people I don’t know, what if I coma out on the st, get mugged and all the worst case scenario stuff etc) I’ve had a few drinks here and there but no crazy nights. Bali is my next destination and reading your posts about Gili, I think I want to challenge myself to let lose more. If your happy, having fun and not hurting anyone then why not.

    • Meihoukai
      July 20 2014

      You’re smart! Personally I can’t really let loose as you say unless I have a good group around me. Luckily I usually do! That’s the benefit of staying a bit longer in a place, and I totally party harder as an expat than as a traveler for that very reason. Check out the hostel in Gili, it’s a good scene!

  • How do you stay fit on the road? It’s the only part I’m dreading next year- muscle to softness. Gads!

  • Gemma
    October 2 2014

    I’m going to miss my gym classes, I am addicted to sugar but that’s alright since I blast it 4-5 times per week. Out first stop is NOLA then SWSX, will need to ‘screw the nut’ as they say in Scotland after that. Luckily my partner, Craig, is of the same frame of mind- cannot spend the months like our last summer month in Asia! Luckily I like a vodka and soda…

    • Meihoukai
      October 2 2014

      That’s definitely the best drink to go with if you’ve got your waistline in mind πŸ™‚ Best of luck to both of you!

  • Sandy
    May 10 2017

    I’m not a long term traveller. Just the odd vacation here and there when I can but I do drink more when I’m away from home but I party more when I am at home and I’m not much of a partier so that’s when there are festivals or celebrations πŸ˜›

    • Meihoukai
      May 12 2017

      Festivals and celebrations are a great occasion to toast to πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading, Sandy!