Traveling While Sober
You’ve put in the work and now you’ve got some sober time under your belt. You’ve saved up some cash and you’re ready to take that vacation that you’ve always wanted. However, you’re feeling a little skittish about stepping out into a strange place on your own. And that feeling multiplies when you think back to how previous vacations have gone. Fortunately, you need not fret. Sober travel can take some extra planning, but it certainly isn’t impossible. First, check your intentions. Why do you really want to be in Munich for Oktoberfest? If, after a little introspection and a lot of honest communication with your support network, you find your intentions are pure, let the following be your guide.
Map It Out
The first and most important thing you can do to ensure a successful sober trip is to plan ahead. If you’re heading home for your vacation and know that there may be some family drama to deal with, plan to give yourself an out. For example, if you know things could get a little heavy, plan to take a solo shopping trip or a walk to get your head right. Similarly, if you’re going to be at a business party where you know there will be plenty of alcohol, allow yourself enough time to make an appearance and pre-plan an engagement as an excuse to leave early. If you attend some type of recovery meetings, get online and find a regional directory for the place you’ll be visiting. It can be a truly wonderful experience to see how the principles of some of those groups carry across different cultures. Finally, if you’re staying in a hotel, ask ahead that the staff empty the minibar of alcohol. You don’t need that kind of unnecessary temptation.
Stick to Your Routine
Another thing to plan for is giving yourself time to adhere to the self-care routine you’ve created while in recovery. While you may be on vacation, your recovery isn’t. If you read pages in the morning, meditate, or go for a morning run, keep doing them! They are just as important when you’re on vacation. Probably even more so. These things are great ways to deal with the inevitable stress that accompanies traveling. Furthermore, they are excellent at keeping you grounded and focused while adding a much-needed sense of normalcy on the road. Speaking of grounding, you should seriously consider talking with your sober friends before you head out and see if you can contact some of them while you’re on vacation. Even a text a day can give you a sense of connection, as well as some accountability.
With all the partying and temptation that can come with travel, self-awareness becomes that much more important. If you been around the recovery community for any length of time, you’ve no doubt heard about the acronym, “HALT.” For those reading this who may not be in recovery, or for those not yet in the know, “HALT” stands for “Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired.” When those of us in recovery are experiencing any one of those things, we are extremely susceptible to cravings and vulnerable to relapse. Vigilance is required here. Handle the issue, do something recovery-related, and get back to your vacation. For example, you’re suddenly craving alcohol. You also realize that you haven’t eaten since breakfast. Get some food in your stomach and give your sponsor a call. Crisis averted.
Another option to consider is checking out a sober travel agency or recovery message boards dedicated to traveling sober. Established in 1978, Sober Vacations International is dedicated to promoting fellowship and fun among twelve steppers by offering vacation packages in places like Iceland, Jamaica, Thailand, and more. Travel Sober also promotes vacation packages and augments them with recovery speakers and regular meetings. Finally, SoberTravelers is essentially a clearinghouse for sober vacations, recovery retreats, travel ideas, and much more. It’s a great resource and a good reminder that you’re never alone in your journey.
Wherever You Go
While it can take some extra work, traveling sober is a rewarding and satisfying experience. Rather than shuffling through the Louvre like a hungover zombie and counting the minutes until it’s socially acceptable to drink again, you get to immerse yourself in your surroundings and actually experience your vacation. However, if we’re being honest, the chaos and temptation of traveling might be a little much for those in early recovery. And if you’re still struggling with alcohol or drugs, you might want to consider treatment as an option. Ocean Recovery offers residential treatment in beautiful Newport Beach, California and our admissions specialists are standing by to help you determine the path that’s right for you.