The Complete Guide to Pub Crawls

Posted on September 26, 2011

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Most major European cities feature nightly events focused on drinking excessive amounts of alcohol in one bar after the next with mobs of other young travelers. This is the essence of the “pub crawl,” an activity becoming increasingly popular among study abroad students. We at Globetrotters don’t condone heavy drinking while traveling, but many consider pub crawls a fun social experience to meet travelers and let loose on the weekends. This article provides some tips on how to stay safe and still have fun.

By Kelly Bisbee

While studying or traveling abroad, you will likely be approached within the first few days in any city by someone on the street promoting a pub crawl. While Globetrotters will never encourage excessive drinking, we realize that pub crawls have become one of the most popular outings for Americans abroad. With that being said, there is a safe way to crawl! While many find pub crawls more like a rite of passage than a rare occasion, it can be easy to run into serious trouble, so having some safety tips is essential.

Before we talk about safety, it is a good idea to find out why pub crawls are so popular these days.

  • New city, new bars. When you first arrive anywhere, it may be tricky to find the bars where people go on certain nights, but a pub crawl tends to focus on certain popular bars or clubs in the specific city. This can help someone spend less time researching a city’s nightlife.
  • Can’t help making new friends. Pub Crawls are huge groups, mostly of Americans, and because of that, many people find that pub crawls are a way to make a few new friends throughout the night. If a hostel plans their own crawl, some people can find some new travel buddies.
  • Free T-shirt. Pretty much the number one reason why someone will sign up for anything is if they are offered something for free, it’s the American way right? Many students are lured into the pub crawl by the company dangling a free t-shirt in their face.
  • Save a few Euro. Pub crawls will typically offer special discounts at the bars and clubs that are part of the night. A lot of students are looking for a way to save a little cash and have found that pub crawls can help keep a few Euro in their pockets.

While pub crawls have become such a huge part of European city nightlife, there are still some things you MUST keep in mind if you decide to take part. It is still Europe, and even though you will be around a lot of Americans, it is always your best bet to be on the safe side!

  • Drink water. I know, I know… you’ve heard it before, but this time actually listen! If you feel like experiencing a pub crawl, drinking water can be the surest way to ensure you have a safe night. Pub crawlers have an awful reputation simply because of the fact that they turn the marathon night into a sprint, and with that attitude, you will certainly feel the consequences.
  • Identification check. This is one of those times when it is really important to make sure you have some form of ID on you, whether it is a passport copy or what have you, just make sure you have something. Obviously, bringing your real passport is unwise in this case. Even if it may seem lame, a money belt under your shirt is one of the safest routes during a pub crawl. It is very easy to lose something, leave it behind or have it stolen when you are going from place to place. Don’t forget to stash some extra cash for a cab ride home.
  • Hostel name. Write down the name of your hostel, and the address, any and everywhere that won’t be lost or misplaced. Put a card in your shoe, a number in your phone and maybe even a note on your hand (or maybe not to that last one). You will be in a new city, with no contacts most likely, and you need to be able to find your way back.
  • Eat something. Again, I’m sure you have heard this before, but grab something to eat before heading out. If you really want to be a part of a pub crawl, having some food in your stomach at some point throughout the night will help make sure that you will remain functioning and safe through the whole night. Every city has so much street food, it won’t be hard. My personal favorite is a kebab.
  • Stay with the group. Being with a large crowd can help keep you safe in a new city. More than that, leaving the group is a sure way to get yourself into trouble. Wandering Europeans cities alone at night, especially for girls can be very dangerous and it is best to not even attempt a situation like that. While Pub Crawls are not Globetrotters’ number one choice for entertainment, if you decide to go one, then stay with the group!

By keeping safety a priority in your traveling, no matter the occasion, you can develop certain safety habits that will really come in handy throughout your time abroad. If you find yourself on a pub crawl at any point during trip, remember to remain proactive in your safety precautions.
More Resources

  • What the Department of State has to say about drinking safety for student abroad. Read Here.
  • Some safety tips for abroad students, provided by the University of Washington. Read Here.
  • The top ten safety and health issues for study abroad students. Read Here.
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