Early to bed, early to rise. It’s not exactly the rallying cry of twenty-somethings all over the world, but I’ve always believed in the rejuvenating power of eight hours of sleep and the positive energy that comes with waking up early.
That’s why a city’s nightlife has never been that important to me. I quickly realized that Spain’s nightlife doesn’t even start after my bedtime. I had a hard enough time adjusting to restaurants that don’t open until 9 p.m., much less entertaining the possibility of going out to a club at the same hour I’m usually coming home. At the risk of sounding completely lame, here’s why a city’s “totally awesome club scene” does absolutely nothing to entice me:
The possibility of a hangover: When I travel to a new city, I want to see as much of it as I can in a limited timeframe. While the tourist attractions are important, I also like to schedule in “unscheduled” time to wander the streets and people-watch on a park bench. More than anything, I want to be out and about, soaking up the culture of a city. I don’t want to waste any time sleeping in a hotel room or not feeling my best.
The cost of drinks: There’s no worse feeling than waking up the morning after a night out to an empty wallet. To me, spending money on alcohol is a huge waste: I’m literally paying to feel awful the next day. A drink with dinner is one thing (France has sold me on the necessity of at least one glass of wine, particularly when it’s cheaper than water), but spending a museum admission on a pricey cocktail in a club? Not my idea of responsible spending.
The dreaded pub crawl I cringe when I see travel bars or pub crawls. The only point is to get drunk—and can’t you do that at home? Sure, it’s fun to meet other people who are passionate about travel. I’ve had great conversations with Australians (I think I saw more Aussie backpackers than Spainards in Valencia) about the differences in our cultures—but I’d rather go down to Australia and see the differences first-hand than get wasted with one in a cool European city.
The cultural experience: My favorite overseas nightlife experiences have been when I’m with the inhabitants of a city, not other tourists. Irish dancing with locals in a tiny pub in Killarney, Ireland or sharing a bottle of wine on the banks of Seine—those are experiences that I can’t have anywhere else in the world. The combination of club music, creepy men and overpriced drinks? Pretty sure I can find that in any country, my own included.
Traveling solo: An added caveat is that I often travel solo. I don’t feel comfortable losing my inhibitions around people I just met or having to find my way home in a strange city by myself late at night. I love going out to dinner with new travel friends or exploring the city together, but drinking excessively just feels a bit unsafe.
This isn’t to say I never party. I love going out with my girlfriends in San Francisco, or heading back up to my college town for cheap drinks and dancing. But for the most part, I got the crazy nights and day-long hangovers out of my system in college. When I’m traveling, I want to see the most of I can of a city—and a hangover just doesn’t fit into my plans.
Is a city’s nightlife important to you? Do you make sure to go out in every city you visit, or do you prefer to wake up refreshed to see the city in the sun?