Whether you’re winding down for the day or out celebrating a friend’s birthday, a glass of wine or a micro-brew is usually revered as the perfect companion for the occasion. But if you’re having a drink in a country other than your native one, you might find that their beverages – and their rules – are different from what you’re used to.
From varying legal drinking ages to drinking and driving laws, the traveling booze-connoisseur will find that the rules of the game change dramatically depending on where you are. And even though the World Health Organization has made numerous attempts to create a global standard on not only the legal regulations on alcohol consumption, but also on the way ethanol is measured, they continue to fall short of actually achieving this complex feat. For example, one standard drink in Japan contains 19.75 grams of alcohol, while a drink in Austria contains only 6 grams—so Japan’s drinks contain over three times more alcohol than those of their Eastern-European friends!
And when a country does not even have standard drink sizes, such as Belgium and Norway, it becomes even more difficult to understand how much alcohol you’re consuming if you’re a tourist.
Given that the way alcohol is measured around the world varies so greatly, it’s no surprise that the laws and societal expectations are therefore different as well. In countries such as the U.S., Spain, and Ireland, women are advised to not drink alcohol at any point during their pregnancy. However, some countries with more lenient attitudes suggest that women limit their daily intake of alcohol, or that they should only have a drink during later stages of pregnancy.
And if you’re concerned about whether or not you should hop in behind the steering wheel of a car after a night out in town, you better make sure you read up on the country’s drinking and driving laws. Some countries have zero tolerance laws for anyone who’s had a drink, and others simply approve of blood alcohol levels different than the standards you are used to.
The one aspect of drinking that countries around the world do stand united on? The daily alcohol intake should be lower for women than for men, due to the fact that females absorb alcohol into their blood at a much faster rate than their male counterparts.
So before you indulge in a fun—and responsible—night out in a new country, we recommend that you definitely make sure you know exactly what you’re consuming before you have another drink.