Alcohol Abroad

Every year, thousands of us head off to foreign climates for a break from reality. 

For many, it means looking forward to relaxing on a beach, or by the pool, with a book in one hand and a cocktail in the other. For a short period, we can pretend to be part of the jet set. For others, it will mean drinking all night and partying till dawn.

Either way we understand that a holiday is a time to relax and possibly have a few too many drinks, but even on holiday it is important to remember to be ‘Drink Aware!’ – if you end up in hospital because of a drink related incident, you may find that your travel insurance policy does not cover you, and that would leave you with a nasty hangover and a costly medical bill.


Believe me, we are not kill joys but, we have seen the things that can happen when too much alcohol turns the dream holiday into a nightmare, sometimes with life changing consequences, such as jumping across to your friend’s balcony because and we quote “it was quicker than walking down the corridor”. Or diving into the pool to celebrate a birthday without checking the depth; and of course, taking that short cut through a dark alley instead of walking the longer way on the well-lit street.

Most of the time people ‘get away with it’ but we’ve seen first-hand the ones that don’t, many end up with a minor injury but some a major injury such as paralysis, and worse!

So, take a read below to make sure you know what you are and aren’t covered for when it comes to consuming alcohol on holiday.

Does travel insurance cover alcohol related events?

Travel insurers attitudes to alcohol vary from policy to policy, most policies carry a general exclusion but this is never the same across all policies. No wonder travellers are confused with all the jargon and mentions of blood level percentages…whatever that is. We thought we’d clear a few things up for you.  

Firstly, if you have ever read a policy wording you may have come across a few of these statements explaining what is not covered:

  • "alcoholism or other alcohol related illnesses”
  • "alcohol (a blood alcohol level that exceeds 0.19% - approximately four pints or four 175ml glasses of wine)”
  • “being under the influence of alcohol (where your blood alcohol level is greater than 200mg per 100ml of blood which is equivalent to you being two and a half times or more over the current United Kingdom Drink Drive limit)”
  • you drinking too much alcohol, or you are suffering from alcohol, dependence or directly or indirectly from the symptoms of alcohol, withdrawal resulting in a claim”
  • “you drinking too much alcohol, alcohol abuse or alcohol dependency. We do not expect you to avoid alcohol on your trips or holidays, but we will not cover any claims arising because you have drunk so much alcohol that your judgement is seriously affected and you need to make a claim as a result (e.g. any medical claim where in the opinion of the treating doctor, excessive alcohol consumption has caused the illness or injury).”

What this all means is that if you make a claim and one of the above applies, (for example when you have an excessive amount of alcohol in your body), then unfortunately you won’t be covered.

Be aware this isn’t just for potential medical claims, it applies to all claims.

For example, if you lose any of your personal possessions i.e. your mobile phone, because you were drunk and can’t remember where you left it (we’ve all been there) then you will find that your travel insurance won’t cover you.

Why is this? It is because you are in full control of how much alcohol you consume if you reach your limits and push a bit further it might not end well.

Check what you are covered for and if you are worried about losing your phone, perhaps get a burner phone – it doesn’t matter if you lose it or not. Just don’t forget to keep your expensive phone in a locked safe or even leave it at home!

Alcohol limit on an aircraft

For many of us, holidays start at the airport with a nice cold glass of your favourite tipple. As there are no limits enforced by the law to the amount of alcohol you can consume on an aeroplane it is easy to get a bit carried away.

However, you may not know it is actually a crime to be drunk on board a plane; so, it’s best to think about the amount you are drinking. You don’t want to be removed and put in a prison cell for being ‘too drunk’ not only is it the worst way to start a holiday, but you’ll also find that you won’t be covered by your travel insurance for any claim you wish to make if you missed your holiday because you were removed from the plane.

There is less oxygen in the air at higher altitude, and alcohol inhibits the absorption of oxygen into the blood, so this combination is likely to leave you feeling extra dizzy and more drunk.




The altitude on an aircraft is nothing like the standard pressures we feel on land. The pressure in the cabin can be compared to the same altitude at the top of a mountain. If you have ever decided to have a cheeky drink on board an aircraft but soon felt lightheaded, this is because of the lack of oxygen in the air. Which can cause you to become dehydrated much faster than you usually would.

Alcohol at altitude

It is best to keep the above in mind if you are planning a trek or climb on holiday or even when thinking about your next ski vacation. The high altitude would have the same effects as flying and leave you feeling dizzy and more drunk than normal.

This can be dangerous on high peaks, as you could easily become lost or stranded. We know that most policies will cover emergency evacuation off a mountain but this is only if you are injured, not all policies will cover you if you simply become lost, specifically if you are on a skiing holiday and ski *off-piste.

*Reminder – off piste is skiing outside the perimeters of the ski resort.

   It is always best to check your policy and ensure you understand what you are and aren’t covered for, before you jet off on holiday.

Drinking alcohol in hot weather

You’re on your all-inclusive package holiday, and of course you want to take advantage of the unlimited food and drinks. Just remember, the warmer climate, pool side view and generous measures of local alcohol, might make you less aware of the amount you are drinking. Alcohol interferes with your balance, coordination and judgement, just a few of the reasons to be drink aware.

So, keep this in mind and try to drink plenty of water with any alcohol; it’s a great idea to order a jug of water alongside your favourite cocktail?

The free bar isn’t the only thing to consider when holidaying. Did you know you can also feel more drunk when in a hot tub? Yes, a hot tub! This is because the heat and bubbles increase your body temperature the same effect alcohol has on the body. But you may not notice this until you stand up!

We’ve all had that moment where it suddenly hits you, so keep in mind how much you are consuming and take breaks from the hot bubbles every now and then, to keep the blood moving around your body.

Know your limits and try not to exceed them. Better to be safe than sorry.

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