Rules for Nightlife is one of the highlights of everyone’s travel experience. Whether it is discotecas, hay rides, or beach parties, nightlife provides you with an opportunity to experience the customs of another culture-the really fun part. But there are things to be aware of for the sake of safety and there are steps that you should always take to make sure that you get the maximum bang for your buck and obtain optimal fun capacity. Lucky for you, you have someone like me ready and willing to assist. Check out my suggestions below.
Know what there is to do. For starters, do some research. I’m not talking about Google, folks. The best sources for what there is to see in a city aren’t online, they are people. Local people. Fellow travelers. The lady selling ice cream on the street corner. Real live people. The bottom line is that many websites have financial motives for what they say and sometimes reviews are skewed in the favor a company or an attraction that may not be all it is cracked up to be. If you are only in a city for a short period of time and staying in a hotel or a hostel, ask the staff. The staff with know of safe places that visitors frequent. They will also be able to give directions and recommend transportation (e.g. you can arrive via bus, you have to take a taxi, etc.). Hostel employees tend to be both willing and qualified to assist guests in seeing the city. Let them know what you are looking for. Are you looking for a place where you will be surrounded by locals? Or are you content with your fellow travelers? Do you want to dance? What kind of music are you looking for? Be specific so that they can provide you with the most accurate information for your travel desires.
Know where you are going. Every city has its dark side. Even if you are only in town for a couple of days, be sure that you know where you are going, but also be sure that you know where not to go. For example, in Arequipa, Peru there are two hot spots, the streets Dolores y San Francisco. San Francisco is more central. It is located in the heart of downtown not 5 blocks from the Plaza de Armas, or main square. The clubs’ attendees are more diverse. You see a lot more travelers. Consequently, you see more police. Also, since it is so central, cabs fares are less. Dolores on the other hand is farther. From the center, fares can range from 6 to 9 soles. While it is a lot more “local” and you see less of your fellow travelers, it is also less safe. During my stay, I ventured to both areas on the weekend. However, I was very aware that Dolores required that I have my wits about me and thus drank less. I also preferred to venture to that side of town with locals, as I felt that it made me less of a target.
Ask what there is to try. A lot of cultures have their customary drinks. Ask people in the bar, working or customers, what drinks are a must try for you. In Peru, you couldn’t possibly leave without trying a Pisco Sour. In Italy, you must consume vast quantities of wine and limoncello. While I understand that most have their “comfort drink”, traveling is all about letting you venture outside of your comfort zone. Just be wary when trying new beverages and liquors. Take it easy with the first few drinks to see how your body responds.
Go out in a group. Groups ensure that you are more likely to end up home safe and sound. Furthermore, who wants to dance alone? Hostels make it easy to meet fellow travelers. Don’t be shy. Propose a night out on the town together. Share any research that you have done and let yourself be open to enjoying your time there with anyone… well, almost anyone. Crazies excluded, of course. Meeting people is part of the travel experience.
Arrange safe transit. In many lesser developed countries, taxis are a problem. There have been numerous cases of kidnappings in many South American and African countries. I have personally met one too many travelers who have fallen victim to the dangers of public transit. Don’t get cocky. Remember that transit where you are may not be like where you are from. Have the number of a safe company on hand. If you are walking, stay in a group. You’ll feel more secure and be open to enjoying yourself more if you know how you are getting home. If you need information on safe companies, I am sure that your hostel has options that they would be happy to provide you with.
Bar hop. Many cities, especially in Europe, offer package deals which enable you to experience more of the city. Cover charges can add up quick. What a package deal does is offer a mindless evening. You meet in a group and go from bar to bar, the covers are all already taken care of by the package. Often times there are even a few free drinks for promo purchasers! I have done these in Rome and Barcelona and had a blast. With just two nights in each city, it was definitely the best way to get a feel for the nightlife of the city. Fliers are normally easy to find. They are typically handed out on the street beginning in the early evening or posted on telephone poles. If you are unsure of which one to purchase or having an issue finding such a promo, like always you can ask your hostel’s front desk staff. However, bar staff would an option as well. In some cases, hostels have relationships with local clubs where guests get in free or pay less for certain venues.
Leave the important stuff at home. Don’t bring your passport. Instead keep a copy in your bag. And give yourself a budget for the night. I prefer to always carry cash, leave the cards at home, and make an approximation of what I intend to pay based on my awareness of the prices of drinks. It keeps me from spending too much money, and in the event of a mishap, it prevents a crisis. Just don’t forget your camera!
I like to take this time to thank Tina Spelling for helping me with this amazing article. Check out her works at www.tinastelling.com