14 Rules For Surviving A Bar Crawl

It's hard not to have heard of, or seen, bar crawls: Groups of joyous people parading down the hippest part of town, sometimes dressed in festive costumes. Bar crawls actually didn't get their start in the U.S., but rather the holy land of pubs, England. The Social Scene observes that bar crawls sort of naturally came about in Britain, as pubs are often concentrated in one area, and you could walk from one to the next. Groups of friends would naturally find themselves moving from one bar to the next as the night went on. True to cheeky British humor, the term bar crawl winks to the fact that by the end of the night, bar-goers may not be walking to the last destination.

There's a lot of allure to a bar crawl: It's the hedonistic pleasure of drinking with friends comingled with a bit of an edge and adventure. It's a great way to discover new cities, neighborhoods, and watering holes. However, there are many ways a bar crawl can go wrong. Here are some things to do to make sure you're crawling back to bed and waking up in as little pain as possible the next day.

1. Make a good plan of where to go

Sure, it sounds a bit dull to make concrete organizational plans before a night out drinking. But making a plan of where to go beforehand saves a lot of time the night of and leaves more hours for enjoyment. The Best Bar Crawl notes that picking a route is really essential for, well, the best bar crawl. True to the spirit of an English pub crawl, you'll want to find a good neighborhood or district where you can easily walk around and go to different bars. 

Over in Austria, some savvy techies are currently working on a bar crawl app that will optimize a bar crawl route automatically. But for the time being, planning a bar crawl is still an analog pursuit. This is perhaps for the best, as one of the most fun parts of a bar crawl is to take your fate into your own hands and choose your favorite bars.

2. Map out the bars you'll visit strategically

Once you've figured out the bars you and your crew want to race off to, make sure to map out it out. This way you can see in advance what the night's going to look like and plan the most efficient possible walking path. You don't want to kill your buzz by accidentally going on a long hike between bars.

When picking out areas to visit, make sure to be a bit strategic. Unlike England, it's a bit harder to walk around the States. You'll want to pick a location that has plenty of options, is easy to walk around, and fits the vibe you're trying to curate.

If you want some technological assistance, Google Maps provides a chic and user-friendly option. Google's My Maps allows users to make their own maps. The maps, which can be shared and edited, are not only easy to make but easy to use. Crawling has never been so high-tech!

3. Set a budget

Setting a personal budget for yourself will help you avoid any regrets in the morning, at least on the financial side of things. There's nothing worse than checking a wallet, or bank account, and seeing much more money spent than you expected. As Debt.org points out, it's not the hottest part of the night, but setting aside a budget is just as important as picking out the right outfit to wear and where to go. The organization strictly warns against bringing credit cards to avoid big-spending temptation. 

Similarly, Lifehacker advises to only bring cash when going out to the bars. The site notes that this is a good way to avoid card minimums. By paying in cash, you can just order one drink without any worries of ordering a second (or third) to be able to pay with a card. Also, bringing cash sets a physical budget for the night, and you can more or less keep an eye on your spending as the night goes on.

4. Have a good meal beforehand

Debt.org says eating at home will help you spend less on a night out, but there are a few other reasons to make sure to tuck into a meal before heading out. As Healthline points out, an empty stomach processes alcohol at a different rate. 

The majority of alcohol isn't absorbed through the stomach, but rather the small intestine. Nonetheless, a full stomach is going to help slow the small intestine's roll. This translates to the body experiencing the effects of hooch at a slower pace and makes for a more even drinking experience. Men's Health also points out that eating a well-balanced meal before drinking provides vitamins and minerals that will be drained the longer the night goes on. Drinking a lot on an empty stomach can make for a dangerous scene. It is beyond inadvisable to go on a bar crawl on an empty stomach. 

Not all pre-game foods are made equally though. Men's Health advises avoiding any sugary foods before drinking, as they will be digested more quickly. Fibrous vegetables and fruit will be the best survival tools before heading out into the night.

5. Dress appropriately

Part of going out to drink is looking your freshest while hanging out with friends. Well, sometimes your freshest. Some particularly campy bar crawls enforce a themed dress code. The (in)famous SantaCon crawl, for example, takes place every holiday season and leads hoards of patrons in Santa suits to pubs all over the U.S. Of course, when there's an explicit theme, it's always fun to join in.

When headed out to more casual crawls, there are still some elements to keep in mind while trying on your different outfits. The most important part of bar crawl is, after all, the crawl. You're going to want to put on outfits that allow you to move throughout the night. Best Pub Crawl notes that you should ditch the extra fancy shoes or stilettos, as you'll be walking a lot. Also, make sure to dress in layers so you'll feel just as comfy outside as you would inside. Another piece of advice is to check in advance to see if any of the pubs en route have a strict dress code. There's nothing worse than getting turned away at the door, just because of a shirt.

6. Hydrate, hydrate, and rehydrate

The writers at Aquasana observe that the best way to avoid a hangover the next morning is to drink plenty of water the night before. As noted by both Aquasana and Healthline, alcohol is a diuretic. It makes your body eliminate water more quickly than it normally would. This has a dehydrating effect, which can cause ungodly spins or killer headaches in the morning. It's safe to say that making sure to keep hydrated is going to help make the night, and the morning after, more enjoyable.

As Healthline notes, the key to keeping hydrated is drinking plenty of water before you go out. Coming out to the scene already hydrated will start you off on good footing. Aquasana provides a few other tips for once you're out on the scene, such as to chase every drink consumed with a good glass of water. A crucial point of drinking is knowing yourself and recognizing symptoms of dehydration as the night goes on so you can correct any problems that arise.

7. Keep an eye on liquors and substances that cause dehydration

Aquasana makes sure to note that this hydration is extra important to keep in mind after shots and sugary drinks, as sugar has a similar effect on the body as alcohol when it comes to dehydration. Sugar is also a diuretic. Insider points out that while there may not be four, there are certainly three horsemen of the apocalypse when it comes to dehydrating drinks: caffeine, sugar, and alcohol.

This supports the commonly held belief that sugary drinks will lead to a worse hangover the next day. But, as an article from Thrillist observes, this isn't entirely true. Ultimately, sugar doesn't affect the body as severely as alcohol. The real issue is that sugary drinks are easier to drink, and those who chose to sip on them run the danger of drinking too much too quickly. So, when you're up at the bar and ordering espresso martinis, vodka Red Bull, or other buzzy and sweet brews, keep in mind how much you've been drinking and when you last had a glass of water. You'll thank yourself in the morning.

8. Keep a good pace

When it comes to bar crawls, it's not a sprint, it's a marathon. In this sense, just like with running, it's better to enjoy a slow pace and see just how far you can go. As the Spring Hill Recovery Center outlines, it takes 30 minutes on average for the effects of alcohol to fully hit. This number can be greatly affected by many factors such as gender, weight, height, and genetics. So, in this case, it makes sense to give yourself breathers in between each drink to make sure that you're not hit with everything all at once. Who would prefer to be uncontrollably drunk when they could just enjoy a light buzz?

As Medical Daily notes, there are a few good ways to approach drinking at a moderate pace. Spacing out drinks is the easiest and most important step to make sure you're not consuming too much too quickly. Additionally, keeping an eye on the sort of glassware you're drinking from can be helpful as well. The site notes that people tend to drink more from curved glasses as it's harder to gauge how much you've been drinking. Ultimately, bar crawls provide just as much of a good opportunity for practicing drinking in moderation as they do excess.

9. Leave no friend behind

Bar crawls are intended to be a time out with friends to enjoy the splendors of the night. A crew that drinks together should also stick together. An article from The National Library of Medicine argues that these friends aren't just fun, they have an effect on how groups drink. Depending on the group, drinking buddies provide anything from emotional support to peer pressure. Ultimately, it's up to you to decide how much you want to drink and when. The right friends will understand each other and enjoy a night out together, whatever that looks like.

In the terms of going out and moving around different bars, drinking buddies can, or should, also provide safety. Women Against Crime advises that there is safety in numbers, and it's good to have someone not only looking out for you but also your drink in order to avoid being drugged. It's a good rule of bar crawls to make sure that everyone sticks together in groups when moving from point A to B. If separated or feeling unsafe, Women Against Crime recommends reaching out to the bar staff and asking for help. After all, as the old adage goes, it's better to be safe than sorry.

10. Don't be afraid to bow out of a few rounds

There can be some pressure to keep up or go beyond your limits as the night goes on. But, as ReachOut says, at the end of the day, it's your choice (and responsibility) to recognize your body's limits. While this sounds like the sort of lesson you'd learn on an after-school special or sitcom episode, there is a large nugget of truth in it. After all, you don't want to be so intoxicated that you don't make it to the last bar or do your body some serious harm. It's good to make decisions that don't lead to a hellish next day filled with ibuprofen, Gatorade, and a dark pair of sunglasses, or worse, a visit to the hospital. 

A bar crawl provides a unique drinking experience where bar-goers are encouraged to go beyond their limits and push themselves. That being said, you don't have to succumb to the social pressure to drink irresponsibly. Bowing out of a few rounds can be the right decision to get you home safely in one piece.

11. Make sure to have a ride or way home lined up

Bar crawls are all about walking around. Theoretically speaking, you may not even need a car to get to the function. Before heading out make sure to give some serious thought to how to get home. So many non-car transportation offers have finally sprung up in the United States, especially in the form of bike shares and electric scooters. One New York Times article from 2013 even detailed how New Yorkers would take Citi Bikes home after bar crawls. Among those interviewed, those who opted for the bike ride home named reasons like cabs being too expensive and subways too inconvenient. Others cited biking being more fun and a way to justify the calories consumed during excessive drinking. 

But biking (or scooting) while inebriated is a very bad idea. Drinking impairs muscle coordination and can lead to serious injury or death of the cyclist or people surrounding them according to the Crossen Law Firm. It's also illegal to bike under the influence in many places. Ultimately, you should either find a designated driver or invest in the rideshare home. There's nothing better than making it back to bed safe and sound.

12. Have water and electrolytes waiting at home

Before you leave, make sure to lay out some comfy clothes and water — you'll thank yourself later. As noted by The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, hangover symptoms depend on the individual but often include, but aren't limited to: Light sensitivity, weakness, fatigue, headache, and anxiety. One of the core causes of a hangover is light dehydration, so if you've kept your eye on your water levels throughout the night you won't have too much to worry about. But one last bit of water with electrolytes might give you a good boost the next morning. While an electrolyte drink can help restore the body's chemical balance, most people's electrolytes should replenish as they sober up. The best way to prevent a hangover is to keep hydrated and drink in moderation.

Those in the party scene may have noticed that hangover patches have started popping up on the market. The patches work in a similar way to nicotine patches: Vitamins are condensed and then stuck onto the skin, where they're then absorbed, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Theoretically, if they're stuck on before hitting the bar, your body will maintain a good level of vitamins during the night and avoid the hangover the next morning. But, as the clinic notes, there is no scientific evidence that supports these claims at the date of writing.

13. Get the best sleep possible

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism cites a bad night's sleep as another contributing factor to a nasty morning after a great night out. If you go to bed turnt, you won't really have a problem falling asleep, but staying asleep. This fragmented sleep will worsen fatigue symptoms and make the hangover that much worse. So don't follow a good night with a bad day.

Getting a good night's sleep will be the cherry on top of all the other good bar crawl habits. Sleep Sherpa notes that staying hydrated and eating well will lead to deeper, less interrupted sleep. The site also notes that avoiding caffeine-heavy cocktails will contribute to better sleep. Furthermore, they recommend having a significant amount of time before the last drink and shut-eye to ensure that once your head hits the pillow, you're in for some well-needed rest. Of course, make sure that your room is a cozy place to come home to and free of clutter. Remember to turn all of your alarms off and you're set to have a good and restorative night's (or morning's) rest.

14. Eat well the next day

So, you've cleared every hurdle. You planned a fun night out and kept up with your friends as you traced your way through a new and exciting neighborhood. You sampled drinks from many a venue without losing your wallet or dinner and went to bed well-hydrated with all things set up to get those golden eight hours of sleep. It was a glorious night of debauchery following a masterfully constructed plan. What next, besides planning the next crawl?

Well, before moving on to the next evening, make sure to dig into another good meal. After all, you deserve it, even if you still have a bit of a headache and feel sluggish. Smithsonian Magazine notes that food-based hangover cures are a tale as old as time and spring up from every corner of the world. Notably, Americans turn towards coffee, eggs, and even cola.

But, while these won't necessarily cure your hangover, they are likely to provide some comfort or dull the pain a bit. Plus, a well-balanced meal, even if it won't cure your hangover or fatigue, will certainly aid in the body healing up. After all, isn't it us Americans who hail breakfast as the most important meal of the day? There's no better way to set the mood for the next day than with some nourishing and filling hangover breakfasts.