8 Simple Rules For Surviving Your First Bar Crawl

Here’s how to keep yourself from having to crawl into bed before it's all over.

At the ripe age of 25 (actually, 26 in about a week), I have finally attended my first-ever bar crawl, and I have some wisdom for those who will crawl after me. Take all this advice with the knowledge that I am a novice who tried to glean all the wisdom she could from her first excursion. However, what I lack in bar crawl experience I make up for in a patchwork of naive college experiences, so I can't say that I went into this completely unequipped.

I also managed to make it home in one piece, and I even woke up the next day without a monstrosity of a hangover. These are the rules every bar crawl first-timer should study before heading out on their journey.

1. Get your rest

If your bar crawl falls on a Saturday, as mine did, the sneaky little temptation to go out on Friday night might creep into your mind. Don't do it. Bar crawls are an early riser's event, and you're going to need all the energy you can muster as you make your way through multiple stops. If anything, consider the night before the bar crawl to be your prep time. Lay out your mise en place of items for the next day: clothes, shoes, wallet, house keys (no car keys because absolutely no driving), portable phone charger, etc. In the morning you can sleep a few extra minutes knowing you're prepped and ready to go.


2. Eat, please (and hydrate)

For god's sake, make time for food. No matter how late you're running or how "not hungry" you might be at the time you leave the house, food is essential to your survival of this bar crawl. Remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and what do marathon runners need to get going? They need fuel in their body, and so do you. Many bar crawls offer some kind boozy breakfast buffet, and you should get all that you can into your system before the real drinking starts.


Always factor hydration into your game plan, too. Grab a water at every stop, or every couple stops. It will be the easiest drink to order from the bartender and your sober self will thank your drunk self for making that decision early on.

3. Don’t be too cool for the theme

Many bar crawls have a specific theme. The one I attended was the Mustache Crawl, which meant there were plenty of people walking around in fake mustaches. Although I didn't sport my own, I took plenty of pictures with fake mustaches and wore the T-shirt included with my ticket. Wearing the shirt and donning a mustache was by no means required, but why go to a themed event if you're not going to participate? Yes, it's cheesy, but that's not a crime. You'll have a much better time if you just join in.


4. The right footwear is key

As I mentioned before, there will be no driving when it comes to this event, but there will be plenty of walking. You will walk, you will stand, you will dance, and you will walk some more. You will not find a seat at most of the establishments you pop into. You might think it's the perfect time to debut some cute new shoes. But even if it's a cute pair of sneakers that will likely be supportive and comfortable, think again. Your shoes are going to come out of this multi-bar experience dirty, scuffed up, and soaked in various types of alcohol, so I strongly suggest wearing a comfortable pair of beat-up, broken-in sneakers. Pop in some memory foam inserts while you're at it, because your feet are going to hurt.


5. Don’t stress about your outfit

Bar crawls are crowded. There's absolutely no way to get around that. So while you may think that you want to dress to impress, I'd advise against it. The amount of times you're going to get bumped into and spilled on is not worth the inevitable dry cleaning bill. Go for comfortable, breathable fabrics. You'll be spending a lot of time either in a crowded bar or outside walking to the next crowded bar, so you'll want clothes that get you through the day. Practicality is the name of the game.


6. Accept that you won’t hit every stop

Yes, the goal of a bar crawl is to go from point A to point B, stopping along the way for a drink at each establishment. Unfortunately, when your adventure map has 20+ possible pit stops (like mine did) it's unlikely you're going to make it to each and every one. Instead, go in with a game plan: Make a list of can't-miss spots, as well as second-tier places that it would be nice to get to but aren't a total necessity. Rule out any places where you don't think you'll have fun. You'll also want to spend some quality time at each spot rather than just downing a drink and running back outside in order to check it off your list. It's a crawl, so take your time.


7. Take advantage of drink deals

In a perfect world, the money you paid for your ticket to the bar crawl would cover any and all drinks along the way, but that's not how it works. These bars are places of business, and they need you to spend some actual money. (To that point, keep both cash and card on hand so you can pay in whichever form the bar accepts.)


In my case, the wristband included admission to the bars and some discount coupons, but attendees still ordered drinks a la carte. On the bright side, much like the breakfast buffet offered at some of the bars, many establishments were offering promotional drink deals as part of the crawl. Ask the bartenders about any specials on offer, and keep an eye out for posted signs. Seek the drink deals and you shall find them.

8. Go with the flow

Enjoy the crawl! Don't get too hung up on the details throughout the day and just let the adventure take you wherever you are meant to go—that's the whole point. Meet up with friends for some food at a nearby restaurant, or go home and take a nap if you feel like that's what you need. By the end of my time at the crawl, I ended up at a food festival near my apartment. Overall, I'd say my experience was a success. I hope yours is, too.