Drinks, Laughs, and Random Knowledge: The Top 5 Reasons to Try Bar Trivia While Traveling

Image by Flickr user MTA / Patrick Cashin.

Some of my most hilarious memories while traveling (and at home, too) have occurred over a passionate game of Cards Against Humanity, Settlers of Catan, or bar trivia on a weeknight after work. For the uninitiated, bar (or pub) trivia is typically a weekly gathering at local watering holes when random knowledge reigns supreme. One or two emcees host the evening, and there may or may not be a theme around the sets of questions. Some events have pre-printed sheets to fill in questions with your team, and they might even include drawing or photo identification sections in the competition.

This past week, my friends and I embarked on a journey into the recesses of our collective brains and talents to (mostly) agree upon our answers. Team Icelandia! learned to trust each other, discreetly share guesses to avert the skilled lip-readers in the room, and brainstormed travel plans in between sets of questions.

Going to a local bar trivia night, whether you’re exploring more of your own locale, on an extended backpacking trip, or trying to make the best of a mid-week layover, is the perfect opportunity to take in some local flavor and laughs.

Mark Doliner - A GlobeImage by Flickr user Mark Doliner, A Globe.

Join forces with a diverse and worldly team.

Venturing out to a bar in your temporary city for a team-based activity might not be your first instinct while solo backpacking and hostel-hopping, but this is exactly the kind of environment to band together as a multicultural Power Rangers force for random knowledge, and possibly free drinks.

Not only will you cover more bases topically, you’ll bond with your bunkmates over national sports rivalries and 1980s hip-hop lyrics. I’ve never scored so highly in a theme about royals as when I sat sipping cold beer after work at my hostel, exchanging light-hearted jabs with my European co-workers. I even learned a thing or two, like that the Internet loves photo-shopping hilarious hats onto the Swedish king. As the lone American chica on our team, I was most appreciated by my European counterparts when it came to the Disney (royalty) round.

Fend off cabin fever during business trips.

If your travels include more work, hotel bars, and awkward layovers than carefree backpacking, trivia is still a perfect opportunity to get out of that Holiday Inn. The great thing about bar trivia is that it’s often held on weeknights at popular local venues. Because of this, you’ll still be able to relax and test the Jeopardy skills of your buddy in Accounting over a few beers to calm those pre-presentation nerves.

Embrace the chance to win free food and drinks.

The prizes for trivia events that I’ve frequented in the various places I’ve lived have always been food and booze-related. I find this to be a fantastic system for saving a few bucks (and a tasty one, too). If your team wins or scores within the first three places (or however else they score the evening), you could walk away having only paid a generous tip after using your newly acquired gift card.

10733571783_f4b0343509_zImage by Flickr user Paul Thompson, NBB Fresh Hop IPA NBB / Cigar City Collaboration Chili Beer NBB Wild Dubbel.

Keep in touch with the outside world.

I don’t know about you Wanderful ladies, but I sometimes find myself a little out of the loop when it comes to The World and Society as I’m wandering about experiencing these very things. I’ve always been a bit of a news junkie who unwinds before work by scrolling the NY Times, The Atlantic, and various other pop-culture blogs with my coffee. Weekly bar trivia by its very nature needs to be relevant, and thus it’s a uniquely entertaining way to stay abreast of global (and local) happenings while you’re out on the road and possibly a bit disconnected.

This is also particularly relevant to team names, which are half the fun. A clever twist on a recent current event might win bonus points and, if nothing else, will solicit many laughs from your punny brethren for the evening.

10954335143_9acb1859c1_zImage by Flickr user Adam Thomas.

Find a community feel with a sense of humor.

Perhaps the best part of going to pub trivia is the sense of community and camaraderie that is evident at these kinds of localized, regular events. One of my favorite spots at home is a tap room and craft beer shoppe that hosts a weekly trivia night which requires a table reservation the day before. In Jamaica Plain up near Boston, my friends have developed real friendships with the folks who host their Wednesday night gatherings of pop culture and current events trivia with plenty of beer to go around.

Every city and venue will add their own local flavor and sense of humor to the event. That’s a big part of what makes these mid-week nights out such a treat, whether you’re currently on the road, stopping in whatever town calls to you as you drive across the country, or it’s grown into a Tuesday evening tradition with your closest friends. And a sense of humor is key. Either come prepared to relax and let it go, or stay home, study up, and come back next week prepared to laugh your ass off (and maybe learn a thing or two).

Do you have a weekly bar (pub) trivia ritual with your friends? Do you think you might enjoy attending one of these events while on your next big adventure?

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