Going out to the clubs at night is an important part of experiencing a new city. For many of us, mingling with the locals over drinks is one of our favorite travel activities. There’s a lot of finger-shaking, old-fashioned advice for staying safe out there, but here are some real tips you can actually use, even if you’re alone, which can actually increase your fun-times.
Make and take a buddy – if you can.
A buddy is not always possible. I travel alone a lot, but it doesn’t preclude me from going out at night. Always ask your hotel reception (and your taxi driver, and anyone who will listen to you) if there are areas you should avoid at night alone, and how late is really too late to be out. Make a friend during the day if you can, as you can meet up with them at night, but if it doesn’t happen? It’s okay. Stick close to your hotel and/or call taxis (don’t just wander around outside trying to flag a cab).
Careful who you befriend.
If you’re the kind of person who wants to get laid in every city you travel to … I don’t know how to help you. That is some dangerous business, even if you’re in your own state and trolling the suburbs. I would advise travelers to consider “hooking up” a big risk, and not a wise one to take on a night out in a strange city. If you’re going to make new friends, it’s safest to meet them during the day, then meet up with them at night. Added bonus: they’ll be able to recommend a cool place to go and keep you from wasting your evening somewhere that sucks.
Now, if you befriend Dr. Jekyll during the day, and at night they turn into Mr. Hyde, remember that you don’t owe them anything, and get the heck out of the situation.
If you’re out on your own and trying to meet new friends at the bar, don’t be looking to hook up with the hottest thing you see. You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment or even danger. Look for people in your age group, who dress like you and are laughing and having a good time. It may be tempting (or less intimidating) to approach someone who’s all alone, but it’s much safer to go talk to a group of people; serial killers don’t usually travel in groups of friends who are laughing their heads off and having fun.If they don’t speak any English and you don’t speak any [language], be careful.
If you’re in a country where you don’t speak the language and they don’t speak any English, you probably shouldn’t go out without a bilingual buddy. Fortunately, most countries where one would go clubbing have a fairly developed English-speaking population. Just be careful, and listen to your gut. If you think the people with whom you’re speaking English are muttering bad things about you to each other in their own language, they may well be — and if they’re not, it’s rude of them to behave that way. Move on.
Plan the end of your night in advance.
Enjoying the thrill of the evening and letting the night take you wherever it may is a romantic idea, but it can be dangerous. Decide in advance which part of town you’re going to end up in and how you can get a cab from there. Furthermore, decide what time you’re going to turn in — lest you should stay out too late, spend all your money and ruin your sightseeing the next day. Going out with no plan is like wandering down a dark alley with no idea whether it has an outlet at the other end. Don’t do it — it’s not just dangerous, it’s also likely to be way less fun.
Put these numbers in your phone.
Even if you don’t want the roaming charges, etc., put these numbers in your phone in case of emergency:
1. Your hotel — and put the address in there, too.
2. Local taxi service.
4. 202-501-4444 (country code 01), the US Department of State Emergency Assistance to Americans in Foreign Countries line.