How Vacationing Americans Consume Alcohol

Tipsy Travelers? The average American has their first alcoholic drink less than 3 three hours into summer vacation, poll finds.

  • 1 in 5 (22%) of respondents will be drinking more during this year’s summer vacation as compared to previous years.
  • 1 in 3 (36%) say an alcohol-free vacation would be a deal-breaker.

For most summer-loving Americans, this year’s upcoming vacation might means dipping their toes in the water for the first time or snoozing on a sunbed under crystal clear skies with their phone on silent. Some might join in a game of beach volleyball nearby while others will be scouting out the nearest bar to spend their summer days.

From the moment the trip begins, there are drinking opportunities at nearly every stop along the way – from faux Irish airport pubs, an in-flight alcoholic beverage, or the hotel room mini bar on arrival. With so many options available, it appears that many American vacationers aren’t willing to wait too long for their first ice-cold beer or cocktail. That’s according to a survey by, a leading provider of addiction treatment services, who questioned 3,000 drinkers (aged 21+) to determine how long they wait, on average, to have their first drink when on vacation.

The survey revealed that the average person admits that they have their first alcoholic beverage within three hours into their summer vacation (2 hours and 54 mins, to be precise). It can be tempting to start off the day with a cheeky mimosa at brunch, however, it’s just as easy to raid the mini-bar before the clock even strikes midday! While day drinking isn’t necessarily better or worse than doing so in the evening, it can lead to more noticeable functional impairment, such as the inability to interact coherently with other people or drive a car. Both of these tasks may have more obvious social consequences during the day as compared to nighttime.

How Vacationing Americans Consumes Alcohol Infographic

The survey also found that more than 1 in 5 (22%) of respondents will be drinking more during this year’s summer vacation as compared to previous years as a way to let off steam after a tough year brought on by the pandemic.

It seems alcohol-filled summer breaks are not an uncommon practice for many people – perhaps making it through the first half of a stressful new year calls for celebration. Nearly a third (29%) of respondents admit that alcohol is an integral part of summer vacations and, in fact, more than 1 in 3 (36%) say an alcohol-free vacation would be a deal-breaker.

Interestingly, 48% of respondents indicated that they’d be concerned about adhering to any social distancing measures this summer. If you’re drinking at a pool bar or by the beach, you may make friends with other vacationers and after one too many, it’s easy to forget social distancing rules altogether. Considering that coronavirus is still a very real risk, despite the significant number of vaccinated Americans, this could prove disastrous in terms of infection rates after the break is over – particularly for non-vaccinated citizens and communities.

Lastly, a separate Instagram study found that a whopping seven of the top 10 cities that had the most vacation-related Instagram posts featuring alcohol were in the U.S.! In fact, the top 5 ranked were exclusively American cities:
1. Portland, Oregon
2. Denver, Colorado
3. New Orleans, Louisiana
4. Los Angeles, California
5. Austin, Texas
*A 2019 study of 1,000 Instagram posts from travelers in 143 cities across the world tagged with either #VacationMode or #Vacay.

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