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Drunk Vacations

When planning a vacation, what goes into the travel itinerary? Most likely the hotel, monuments, and shopping. And if you’re like most Americans: food.

Culinary tourism is having a big impact on the industry, as food becomes one of the quintessential ways to experience a new place or culture. But how does drinking fit into that trend?

We studied 1,000 Instagram posts focused on travel (tagged with either #VacationMode or #Vacay) in 143 cities to understand how alcohol is featured in people’s social media journaling. Continue reading to see what we uncovered.

Vacation Drinks by City


If you’re planning your next getaway, there are many iconic sights you may want to hit along the way: the Statue of Liberty, The London Eye, or the Golden Gate Bridge. But what about a local bar? Across the country, these are the cities with the most vacation-related Instagram posts that featured a little extra libation on the side.

Even though Portland, Oregon, is known for its plethora of expansive parks and gardens (it’s called the City of Roses, after all), nearly 1 in 10 vacation pictures featured alcohol. You might also find recommendations for beer-walking tours and pub crawls where liquor is the main event. Having more than four (for women) or five drinks (for men) over a two-hour period is considered binge drinking, and it can come with serious health risks including unintentional injury (like a car crash) or memory loss.

Denver, Colorado, and New Orleans, Louisiana, were the next two popular travel destinations with alcohol., Around 8 percent of vacation-related posts tagged in those cities also featured alcoholic beverages.

International Intoxication


The U.S. isn’t the only place where people drink while they travel – in fact, it wasn’t even among the top three locations for vacation-related Instagram posts featuring alcohol. That title went to Sweden, where more than 5 percent of all travel photos analyzed focused on drinks.

There are many reasons why you should avoid excessive drinking (or even any drinking at all) while traveling by plane, though, regardless of where in the world you’re going. You may also want to consider that if you’re out of the country and find yourself with a particularly nasty hangover, your travel insurance might not cover the costs of your medical care when alcohol consumption is involved.

Canada, the Netherlands, and Taiwan also had a high percentage of boozy Instagram travel posts, while countries including Morocco, Cuba, and Brazil had more sober shots.

Timely Posting


If you notice a spike in the number of people posting to your social media feed with drinks in hand during spring break or summer – that’s no coincidence. Our study of Instagram posts from February 2016 to February 2017 found the most common times of year for people to snap pictures with their drinks were at the end of March, the beginning of April, and at the end of June.

College students, especially, have a proclivity for combining these holiday months with activities that include binge drinking. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 1 in 3 college students between the ages of 18 and 22 reported binge drinking at least once. Heavy drinking may seem like a rite of passage during spring break, but it can lead to many consequences including sexual assault, unprotected sex, and other severe health issues.

In the summer months, beer may seem just as natural as hot dogs or baseball, but combining alcohol and rising temperatures can be dangerous regardless of people’s ages. Not only does alcohol act as a natural dehydrator, which can lead to heat stroke or exhaustion, but up to 70 percent of all water recreation deaths of teens and adults involve the consumption of alcohol as well.

The Likelihood to Like


Posting the perfect shot on vacation isn’t just an important element of a successful trip – it can be the most important detail for some people (especially millennials).

Consider this the next time you’re staging the perfect photo op during your travels – our study revealed posts that featured alcohol earned roughly half as many likes as those that didn’t. If you’re traveling to an exotic place, people on your feed don’t necessarily want to see the beer you’re drinking nearly as much as they want to see the sights of a new city.

Photogenic Potables


People who make it their business to take good Instagram shots know the perfect picture usually contains the thoughtful use of color and compelling symmetry to earn likes or comments. People who tend to incorporate drinks into their photos may be taking these same elements into consideration according to our poll.

Our study found that the most pictured drink was a cocktail. Perhaps in response to their sometimes colorful presentation, cocktails represented the most photogenic alcoholic beverage choice according to Instagram. Liqueur was also featured about in more than a third of the posts we looked at, followed by beer and wine.

Depending on the kind of alcohol you’re posting about (or drinking), you may want to be aware of the low-risk limits for each type. The alcohol concentration in a glass of beer is typically lower than that of a glass of wine, meaning having less to drink could still produce the same effects.

Tagging Trends


What’s in a hashtag? When it comes to Instagram, the hashtags people use with their travel photos reveal what matters most to them when exploring a new scene. The most popular tags among people who posted pictures of just about anything other than alcohol – monuments, landscapes, and even other people – were #Travel, #Beach, and #Wanderlust.

People who also included drinks in their photos had a different perspective on how to tag their shots. #Travel was still popular, but #Drinks, #Beer, and #Cocktails followed just behind. For these vacationers, drinking might just top their list of things to do (and enjoy) while away – at least according to their hashtags.



An interesting picture with a good composition may not need a filter to stand out. In fact, 60 percent of travel Instagram posts shared that didn’t include alcohol also didn’t use a filter. Travelers photographing the scenery of a new city or country may not feel compelled to alter or modify the pictures before posting them.

Travel posts with a side of spirits weren’t quite as bare, though. More than half of travel posts that featured alcohol included a filter of some kind, with the most popular choices being Clarendon and Lark. Each of these intensifies a picture’s colors and deepens the shadows, creating a sense of boldness and contrast in what might otherwise be a fairly simple photo.

Safety First

When it comes to traveling, there are many things you’ll need to keep in mind to be as safe as possible – whether you’re traveling to another city or even another country. How you consume food and alcohol is no different. No one wants to get sick when they’re on vacation, and monitoring your alcohol intake can keep a good trip from turning sour.

If you or someone you love struggles with alcohol misuse, there is help. At, our goal is to find the perfect treatment facility for all the things that matter to you. From location to environment, and even the treatment approach, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution on the road to recovery. There’s more to rehab than simply addressing the symptoms of addiction.

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We analyzed 1,000 vacation-related Instagram posts  tagged with #VacationMode or #Vacay from 143 cities across the globe with the most vacation-related posts.

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