En español | Alcoholic beverages on vacation can add spark to a romantic evening or provide refreshment during a sun-filled beach day. But too much alcohol, paired with excessive sun or little sleep, can create a travel medical emergency. Be aware of these do's and don'ts when mixing alcohol and travel.
Don't get drunk while flying
Your trip may begin with a celebratory cocktail or beer on the plane, and some travelers use a drink on board to help them sleep through a flight. But drinking at such an altitude will have you flying high in more ways than one: The airplane's environment exaggerates the effects of alcohol on the body. People tend to get drunker more easily when flying. One major side effect of in-air overindulgence is an increase in the time it will take to adjust to a new time zone. If you tend to be affected by jet lag, skip the cocktails altogether. Travelers suffering from a cold or upper respiratory condition should also avoid alcohol when flying.
Do drink water
A common misconception is that drinking will help you adjust to the new local time zone or even reset your internal clock. The theory goes: If you drink alcohol on the plane, you'll arrive tired at your destination, and go straight to the hotel for a good night's sleep. In reality, alcohol-induced sleep is neither deep nor restful for the body. Chances are you will not wake up well-rested and ready to explore. Rather, you'll be lethargic and require another day for adjustment, further shortening your vacation time.
The best method for adjusting to jet lag is to get lots of rest before traveling, drink plenty of water, maximize your exposure to sunlight at your destination, and aim for at least four to five hours of shut-eye a night. Your body will naturally do the rest.
Do take your time
Once at your destination, avoid alcohol until you have adjusted to the local environment. Give yourself at least 24 hours, no matter how tempting that first night out in Paris might be. Although the type of alcohol doesn't really matter, a general rule of thumb is that the lower the alcohol content, the more energetic your travel experience. If you are planning to scuba dive, mountain climb or engage in any other extreme sport, avoid alcohol completely.
Follow the above jet lag advice for altitude sickness, a common travel medical concern. If your destination is at a high altitude, stay clear of alcohol until your body has had time to acclimate to the lower levels of oxygen in the air.