“Always carry a flask of whiskey in case of snakebite and furthermore always carry a small snake.” – W.C. Fields
Story by Jim Foreman
Of the hundred or so stories written to date and the dozens of presentations about traveling our amazing world, the one point that consistently gets the most attention is my advice to always travel with a flask of premium spirits and some stainless steel shot glasses.
Flasks used for carrying alcoholic beverages have been around since the stone age. It’s speculated that about fifteen minutes after making the first alcoholic beverage, someone got the bright idea to put it in a transportable carrier to enjoy it, on the go.
Modern flasks have been around since the 1700’s and were a common item among the gentry.
Today, in many many US States, the carrying of flasks in a car is considered an open container of alcohol and could subject a person to criminal proceedings. Additionally, since the tragic events of September 11th, 2001 and the even more tragic restrictions on freedoms, especially in air travel, many people have associated the flask with something wrong or harmful.
It’s time to shake some sense into the conversation.
Why a Flask?
Up until somewhat recently, before cell phones and seemingly instant help available 24 hours a day, the hip flask was the proverbial AAA for a traveler. If stranded with a broken down car, motorcycle, or another vehicle it was customary for others to stop and see if they needed help. In turn, it was customary to offer one’s flask as an expression of gratitude for stopping to help.
For a traveler, a hip flask truly should be as standard to carry as one’s passport or local currency. This is not to get plastered in a foreign country. Quite the opposite is true.
The reason for carrying a flask with premium spirits is simple. No other gesture more effectively offers an extension of respect and friendship than handing your flask to a stranger. This is especially true when a common language is a barrier to communication. The stretching of one’s hand with a flask or a freshly poured shot of your spirit of choice immediately sends a powerful message that transcends politics, bigotry, and mistrust. This gesture immediately tells the person offered the gift that you respect them and value their assistance or friendship.
It’s important to state, that under no circumstances do I promote, encourage, or suggest one should drink and operate a motor vehicle. This should be obvious, but in this day and age, one must state the obvious.
In places like Mexico, where this writer travels extensively, it would be unthinkable to go without a flask. Should I ever need assistance or help someone on the side of the road, after dealing with any immediate crisis, a flask offered, whether accepted or not, tells the other party that you are friends since you offered to share something valuable.
A significant influence was Dr. Guillermo Cisneros (Mi Doctór). Known as the best pediatric surgeon in Mexico, he was also an avid motorcyclist. We shared many miles together, and through careful observation, a life lesson befell upon me.
He would always carry a hip flask with four stainless steel shot glasses that would stack together. When we’d stop for the evening, he’d sit outside and pour shots for each person sitting with him. While seeming insignificant and straightforward, a feeling of camaraderie and loyalty was sewn deep into my soul, and I knew a valuable life lesson was just bestowed on me.
It’s been over a year since Dr. Cisnero’s tragic passing, but not a trip begins without a toast to him and his simple wisdom of friendship and camaraderie all summed up with a simple hip flask.
Make it Your Tradition
These days, flasks come in all shapes, sizes and variations. Some folks desire the authenticity of yesteryear with an antique flask. Others, prefer the practicality of plastic which doesn’t set off metal detectors at sporting events. Use this opportunity to choose a flask that defines you as a person and your tastes.
Whether it’s whiskey, brandy, Tequila, or other spirits, make sure it’s among your best and make sure it’s readily available, for that friendship you’re about to make.
About the Author
Jim Foreman is the owner and director of operations for Authentic Moto Travels. This originated by taking groups of friends to far-off and exotic destinations south of the border. When you are looking to make a motorcycle journey through Mexico, Latin America, Europe, and soon Asia and Australia, please consider Authentic Moto Travels for your adventure.