Man Travels World with Beer as Currency (and Survives)

An advertising campaign for Heineken challenges one man to travel through Asia with only a backpack of beer

Backpacking through Asia might be hard enough for some travelers, but imagine doing it with no money — only beer. That's a challenge one Texan traveler recently took on, and surprisingly succeeded. 

Justin Bratton's "social experiment" did have one caveat, the Wall Street Journal reports: it was organized by Heineken as an advertising campaign. Heineken reportedly approached him to take on the journey to prove just how popular, and valuable, a Heineken can be in Asia. (After all, Heineken is in talks to buy out Asia Pacific Breweries, only further strengthening its brand.) 

Nevertheless, Bratton took on the Spice Route of Asia, from Shangdu in Inner Mongolia to Bangkok, with only Heineken bottles in his backpack to use as currency. Followed by a film crew, Bratton took on the challenge to eat, sleep, and travel using beer as currency. And for the most part, it worked: with only a few snafus (like planning ahead for visas to cross borders, plus two flights), he pulled off the adventure. 

"At the start I was very confident, but after you get rejected a couple of times, you start to wonder... But people like beer, which helps," he said in an interview to the Wall Street Journal in Singapore.

We have to wonder if we could pull this off ourselves — without the backup of a major brand of beer.

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