Traveling for the holidays can be a challenging endeavor for a person in recovery, especially if the sober lifestyle is new. For many people in early recovery, anything that deviates from the normal recovery routine, sobriety support system, or sober surroundings can be a threat to sobriety.
If you plan on traveling this Christmas, here are 9 helpful tips for enjoying sober travel and preventing relapse while traveling for the holidays.
- Check in Regularly with a Sober Support Person
Although it does take more time and effort, it’s important to check in with your sober coach or sponsor while you’re traveling. Staying connected with a sober community plays a huge role in sustained sobriety and is an important aspect of lifelong recovery.1 Of course, staying in touch does require some planning while traveling, but it’s well worth the effort and it will help keep you grounded, wherever you are.
- Head to a Community Support Group When You Arrive
Often, what you do on your first day at your destination will determine the tone for the rest of your trip. If you choose to continue attending a community support group like AA or NA, as you do back at home, chances are your recovery and sobriety will stay top of mind throughout your trip, regardless of what is going on around you.
- Plan Your Trip Around Activities
If you’re going on vacation for Christmas, consider planning your trip around the sober activities you plan to do. For example, skiing, snowboarding, snorkeling off the coast of an island, sightseeing at historic places … these are all activities that would make for a very exciting sober vacation.
- Listen to Yourself
Just as it’s important to avoid getting hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT) at home, it’s still important to pay attention to your physical and mental needs while traveling.2 If you’re running yourself ragged, you’ll have less resolve to fight off cravings and manage day-to-day stressors. It’s a good idea to travel with healthy snacks so you can stave off any hunger while on a plane or in the car. You may also want to bring your yoga mat or plan for ten minutes of meditation each day while you’re traveling. Listening to yourself and prioritizing self-care practices to meet your physical and mental needs on the road is a great way to combat relapse.
- Bring Your Books or Podcasts
You’ll inevitably have some free time while you travel, so it’s a good idea to have productive things to do in these moments. Bringing a few of your favorite recovery-oriented books, audiobooks, music, or podcasts along on your trip is a great way to combat boredom and fill your free time with meaningful activities.
- Bring Non-Alcoholic Beverages for Yourself
If you’re headed home for the holidays and your family or friends drink alcohol, you may want to consider bringing your own non-alcoholic beverages so you’re not tempted by beer, wine, or alcoholic eggnog. If you feel like getting creative, you can gather the ingredients for one of these great non-alcoholic holiday drinks and invite your family to enjoy them with you.
- Ask the Hotel to Clear the Mini-Fridge of Alcoholic Beverages
If you’re going to be staying at a hotel while traveling this Christmas, a mini-fridge stocked with alcohol could be a problem. Before you find yourself in a tempting situation, you may want to call ahead and ask the staff to remove the alcoholic beverages from the mini-fridge in your room. Any hotel should not have an issue doing this, and in the end, asking for that small favor could make things a whole lot easier for you.
- Stay Clear of Places You Used to Drink or Use Drugs
Going home for the holidays may come with a host of emotions ranging from excitement to fear. If you relocated to a sober living home after rehab and are returning home after months or years of being away, you may feel anxious about running into old drinking buddies or seeing the bars and clubs where you used to spend a lot of your time using. People, places, things, and even smells can serve as powerful triggers that may make you want to use again.3 If you know these places may pose a problem for you while you’re traveling, intentionally steer clear of them before any issues arise.
- Excuse Yourself from Family Drama
Spending the holidays at home can be a great and fun time, but it can also be stressful if relationships are strained or your family is going through a difficult time. Things like divorce, the loss of a loved one, or even your addiction treatment and recovery can cause tension, arguments, and drama. If things get heated and you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s okay to politely and respectfully remove yourself from the situation.
Whether you’re heading home for Christmas or you’re traveling to a vacation destination, it’s important to safeguard your sobriety while you’re away. Taking intentional steps to protect your recovery and ensure your physical and mental health in the process can go a long way to prevent relapse and promote long-term sobriety.
If you just recently got sober and you’re struggling to maintain your sobriety this holiday season, spending the holidays at a sober living home might be the best way to sustain your sobriety. Regardless of where you are in your sobriety journey, Eudaimonia Recovery Homes can help. We provide sober living programs, personal monitoring, IOP, and aftercare for people in all walks of life and recovery. Call our admissions team today to learn more.