Avoid the Oops — The Hangover and Getting Really Drunk on a Plane

flight attendantsThe journey has begun. The anticipation is there. It won’t be long before you arrive in an exciting new location or an old favorite. Speaking of arrival, here comes the drink cart.  Even better — the alcohol is free!

It’s a perfect time to celebrate, so why not have another and another and maybe another after that? You’re not driving. Plus, your flight is fourteen hours; you have a lot of time to kill. So, it’s tempting to get the party started and to keep drinking.

© Stephanie Glaser

© Stephanie Glaser

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating and drinking in moderation on a flight. And perhaps you know what you’re potentially in for, having already experienced hangover hell and feeling like complete crap at one point or another.

But remember, you may not have experienced this while in a confined space where you don’t have quick access to fresh air, toilets or even your own pillow.

Not to mention you may have to endure this state for several more hours with crying kids and grumpy passengers who are over the flight.

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Avoid the Oops — Not Trying the Language

Katerina, my new Greek friend who taught me the proper Greek alphabet
© Stephanie Glaser

During a layover from Athens to Amsterdam, I took advantage of a free minibus tour of Budapest, arranged by the airline company on which I flew. Because the tour was conducted completely in Greek, I didn’t learn much about Budapest, but I befriended the seven other travelers on the van who were all from Greece.

The only Greek word that I knew was “Efharisto,” (thank you) so whenever I could use it, I did.

Katerina, a seven-year-old girl who was part of the minivan crew, giggled and said something to Gabriella, one of the two English speakers in the group. Gabriella told me that Katerina found it funny that the only thing I could say in Greek was “thank you.”

Through Gabriella, I told Katerina I actually knew the Greek alphabet. I spared relaying the details of how I had learned her language’s alphabet, along with such skills as playing quarters and other drinking games, while in a sorority at college. Then in a moment of silliness, I sang her the version I had learned courtesy of Delta Gamma.

For a minute, as everyone sat in silence, I thought I had offended them. Then all the Greeks broke out into uproarious laughter. Clearly they got a big kick out of the Alpha Beta Gamma ditty, and they had a hard time composing themselves again.

Although slightly embarrassed, I never felt like they thought I was an idiot. Entertaining, yes, but stupid, no. In fact, Katerina and her grandfather offered to give me a proper lesson in the alphabet. They patiently waited for me to repeat each letter after them.

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Avoid the Oops

Using Embarrassing, Inappropriate or Offensive Words 

“I am very pregnant; I do not like beans.”

It’s easy to say the wrong thing when you’re in another country and dealing with a language barrier. Suzanne Miller, director of Nursing for St. Luke’s Wood River Hospital in Ketchum Idaho, knows this well.

While in college, Miller studied in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she had a mix-up with the Spanish word “embarazada,” which of course, sounds like embarrassed. However, it doesn’t mean embarrassed — at all.

 “For two weeks, I didn’t eat my meals because they always included refried beans. Finally, my host mother asked me [in Spanish] “Do you not like my cooking?’ So then I said  [in Spanish], ‘I’m so, so embarazada, because I don’t like beans.’ My roommate, Jen, was fluent in Spanish and told me, ‘You just told Señora that you are very, very pregnant.’ Senora was stunned at first but Jen eventually cleared it up.” — Suzanne Miller.

To avoid issues with communication, many US travelers head to the UK, Australia and New Zealand because these countries share the same language as the US. Or do they? Can you say the wrong thing in your native tongue when you are traveling in an English-speaking country? Absolutely! Slang varies from dialect to dialect.

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Avoid the Oops — Not Trying the Food

Time to suck it up!

Steph’s note: The adventures of travel are unpredictable and Travel Oops is all about celebrating the unexpected results. However, there are some travel oopses that you definitely want to avoid. Here is advice about the Avoidable Travel Oops.

The Avoidable Travel Oops: Offending your hosts because you don’t want to eat the food they offer.

Most travelers have had a dilemma like this: you don’t recognize what is on your plate; it smells like feet; it may even slither or crawl on the plate or it is of a hideous texture that induces immediate gagging. What do you do? Refusing to eat the food, in most cases, is an insult. Telling your host you are full may backfire since you might not get anything else to eat, and let’s be honest, it’s a pretty bogus excuse anyway.

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