So you’re off travelling and life is good. You feel freedom, excited, and all the other emotions that come with it. Everything seems possible.
That’s good. That’s bloody brilliant.
But there are some things you should still be very much aware of, and one of them is the use of drugs.
You may be the kind of person who says they will never do drugs, or has tried a few times something.
Maybe smoking weed.
Well let me tell you when you hit the road it can be very easy and tempting to try stuff.
I have smoked a lot of weed and hashish myself in the past when travelling. Chilling up in the Himalayan Mountains smoking hashish with the beautiful views all around is awesome.
But there can be a lot of dangers in what you use, when you use, and how.
I’m going to start with a short story to give you an idea of what I am talking about.
Death on a Beach
It was back in 1998 and I was in Thailand for the first time. I headed to Koh Phangan Island like many backpackers do on their first trip to Thailand. But instead of going to the main full moon party beach of Hat Rin I went to the far north of the island.
It was way more relaxed up there with only a few travellers hanging out. I felt comfortable smoking some weed in that environment away from everything. Chilling in a hammock, eating good food. Yeah it was sweet.
Then we heard about the notorious full moon party, and being curious went down to check it out.
Wow what a difference!
The chilled out beaches of the north were replaced with thumping techno music from bars along the beach and thousand’s of people drinking and dancing away.
It was way obvious that there were people taking magic mushrooms, and even though it wasn’t really my kind of scene (I like unspoilt beaches) I figured I was there and might as well drink away. I was 21 after all!
The night soon turned into a blur as copious amounts of beer and whisky were drunk, and I vaguely remember leaving with others to walk to a more relaxed beach to chill out.
Next thing I knew someone was kicking me in the side. I was lying on the beach with my sarong over me to keep the morning sun off.
“What the fuck”! I said.
“You’re alive”! the person kicking me replied.
I didn’t necessarily feel that alive given the serious hangover that was now enveloping me, but replied that I was very much alive and why would he ask me this.
I was now sitting up and a local Thai man was standing over me. He pointed 100 metres down the beach.
There were a few people standing over a body also covered with a sarong. I stood up and wandered over to the scene to see what was up.
The people looked sombre and lifted up the sarong. There was a young white woman in her early twenties with scratches all over her body, dead.
The first dead body I had ever seen. It was shocking.
When she was identified by friends later on it was established that she had taken magic mushrooms and had gone for a swim away from the party. She obviously drowned and got smashed up against rocks or coral.
When you’re fucked up on something you can do things that you really shouldn’t. Going for a swim by yourself into the sea on magic mushrooms is one of them.
That’s just a short story on how you should be careful when letting yourself go in an environment where everything is easy and fun for the first time.
Using Drugs While Travelling
I’m going to run through the most common drugs you will run into when travelling and my advice on them.
It’s easy to think that this is the easy one as a lot of people smoke it. There was a study that something like 50% of Americans have tried it. I loved it!
Chilling with mates having a laugh it’s perfect. Meditating on a mountain taking in the views. Perfect.
In fact I would put this one as seriously needing to be legalised everywhere. But that’s why I’m writing about it for travellers. It isn’t.
Some countries have seriously strict laws against it and there are plenty of scams out there.
Naturally if you’re in smoker friendly Netherlands you don’t need to worry about shit. Got to love Amsterdam 🙂
But if you get caught even with a little bit in places like Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, then you can get prison time. If you have a lot that indicates possible intent to sell or smuggle you can even get the death penalty.
On the party beaches of Goa in India dealers sometimes work with police officers. They sell you some hashish and there will be a policeman nearby that they work with who will quickly jump in and arrest you. They will then demand bribe money to not take you to the police station and put you in jail.
If you’re going to smoke just find out the local drug laws and ask around other travellers and locals about possible scams and problems.
You get the general idea.
I’ve taken magic mushrooms in the past (sorry to any family who may be reading and didn’t know), it’s my life. I know the effects.
When you do hallucinogens (especially when you are not used to them) it’s best to do it with friends or other people around you in a comfortable environment. Unless you are very experienced in them.
But this post is aimed at first time travellers who may get lured into doing something they are maybe not prepared for.
Places in South-East-Asia are well known for doing magic mushrooms (ever wondered what the “special pizza” was), and it’s easy to be tempted to try.
My main advice if you do decide to do some is like I said above: always be around people you are comfortable with and somewhere chilled out in a stress free environment.
Another advice is don’t do any, but then things are new and easy when travelling for the first time and it can be easy just to go with the flow. This post is directed at you.
As far as the authorities go they tend to care less about taking magic mushrooms than other drugs, although always check if you are worried.
I’m mainly mentioning this one for those travellers in, or heading to South America.
I’ve never tried it so can’t tell you any personal details, but obviously this one will get you into more trouble than marijuana and magic mushrooms.
Cocaine is more of a party drug.
Obviously you will most likely run into this in South America as far as travelling goes, but you can of course find it almost everywhere, but it’s in South America where it’s easily available and cheap that you might be tempted.
Like I said I don’t have personal experience with cocaine so can’t really tell you much about it, just check with other travellers and locals.
Fuck I stayed at a hostel in Bogota (the capital of Columbia) and I swear there was so much residual white powder in the toilets lying around!
There are loads of other drugs out there, but I’m talking about the most common ones that you may be tempted with.
The most important thing for you is never do anything you don’t feel comfortable with and be aware of your surroundings and local laws.
Harder drugs I don’t believe in at all, such as heroin etc. Fuck that, just don’t even bother thinking about it. Stay away.
The police are apparently getting very serious with drugs at the full moon party in Thailand now, so it may seem like an easy going free atmosphere but be careful. The same can be said for many other travellers hotspots. Police are cracking down or getting involved with bribing tourists.
To be honest I can’t stand places like the full moon party. If I want to party hard I will head to clubs in cities. Nature should be left as a chilled out place to escape to.
Just Be Careful
Travel and love life. Just don’t let a stupid mistake of not being aware of what you are getting into fuck it all up.
And never feel pressured into doing something just because everyone else around you is doing it. That’s good advice for all aspects of life…
PIN IT –
Take travel insurance!
You could find yourself in need of medical help if using drugs. Sounds horrible to say but it’s true. Maybe not the drugs themselves but an accident related to using them.
I highly recommend taking out travel insurance for such things. I personally use WorldNomads which is the best insurance company for travellers. You can check and book insurance with them using the form below.
It’s an affiliate form which means I get a small commission for booking through my website at no extra cost to you. That helps towards my travels and bringing you more advice and stories from the road.