Sober life scares many people in recovery, some are concerned about the possibility of relapse that could come with being in a more relaxed environment or traveling. There is always the subconscious telling us “you are on vacation, relax,” as if this automatically meant we can take vacation from our sobriety – which is definitely not the case.
Vacation Is No Longer Synonymous with Drinking
Perhaps your old self was used to partying during vacation. Maybe you’d start drinking at the airport and wouldn’t stop the entire time; but have you stopped to think if you really, truly, enjoyed that vacation? Do you have clear, real memories of everything you did, places you visited, experiences you had? Or is it all a blur? Did you give those traveling with you a hard time because of your drinking? Ask them, don’t just relay on your “drunk or high” memories.
Go back and evaluate how your life was before. Look at pictures of your previous trips and how you looked and acted while you were using. Talking to those affected by your addiction can help motivate you to stay clean.
Traveling sober should be synonymous for relaxing, disconnecting from work, sharing quality time with loved ones while doing activities you enjoy. Visit new places. Create good memories. This can all happen without drinking or using, in fact most people enjoy traveling sober more.
It is important that you consider having recovery tools handy during vacation, plan ahead, check for meetings close to where you are going. If this is not an option but you are somewhere where you have internet connection then opt for online meetings, podcasts or sessions with your recovery coach. If on the contrary you are going on a cruise or to the mountain with no available internet then take some books on recovery with you. In addition, see about options where you are staying to attend meetings or healing therapies you might enjoy. Ask your life coach to send you some material ahead of time that you can access and study while on vacation.
If you are still not strong enough to be able to deny a drink when offered one, you should also plan to avoid uncomfortable moments or temptations. For example, if you are going on a tour or excursion, check your itinerary thoroughly and ask ahead of time if there are planned stops at bars or party places. Be in the know if alcoholic drinks included with your meals or anything else that could pose a threat to your sobriety.
Party Destinations While Traveling Sober
Avoid party destinations at all costs: Cancun, Las Vegas, Ibiza, Amsterdam. These are all places people go to with the intention of partying, so these should be scratched from your plans unless you are very confident that you are now at a stage of your recovery and your life where you can manage this type of pressure, even still, there are thousands of places you can choose instead, why put yourself in that position if you can avoid it?
When it comes to planning sober travel for your holidays, there are plenty of alternatives trips planned for people in sobriety and activities for sober groups are not an exception. Talk to a travel agency or a travel advisor or do a quick online search and check into these options, it is a lot easier to stay sober if you are part of a group that shares the exact same goal, and no, it does not have to be boring. In fact, you will be amazed when you realize how much more you can enjoy when you are in your five senses and taking in the full experience.
Another tip for a sober travel: fill your itinerary with plenty of fun activities while trying to maintain the routine of your recovery habits. For instance, if at home the first thing you do in the morning is exercise and listen to a sobriety podcast, then try to maintain this habit during your time off. You may need to schedule it at a different time but do it nonetheless. The rest of the time try to find things that you want to do that will keep you entertained and busy but away from partying. You can be spontaneous and go with the flow here and there, but make sure to mix in some structure around your sobriety. The battle is internal, and you must find ways to make things easier for yourself.
Relapse During Travel
Remember that even though the road to recovery may seem lonely at times, you are not alone. Although the decisions are yours only, you do have many resources and people in the same path that you can turn to when you feel weak or full of concerns. Many have already traveled the same road. However, there’s support groups, a recovery coach, friends, books, and podcasts. These are all options you have at hand that you can resort to, people can share their experiences, give you tips, be there for you, anything you might need to keep you in the right direction.
Finally, if you do relapse while on vacation don’t beat yourself up about it, but don’t go down the “well, shame, might as well” route either. Immediately reach out to your support group, talk to a sponsor, your recovery coach or a friend, ask for advice and get back on track. Don’t let your emotions deter you from your goal of staying sober and having a healthy lifestyle. Enjoying a fun vacation while traveling sober is one you will remember for years to come.