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Planning a Sober Travel Vacation
Planning in general for any sort of vacation can be a hectic and time-consuming process. It can add unnecessary stress and anxiety to what is supposed to be an otherwise pleasant experience. This is especially true for someone who is in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction, as traveling can present a number of challenges that someone who is not living a sober lifestyle may not even consider.
There are many stress-inducing factors related to sober travel, including:
- Unexpected issues that may arise with your transportation or accommodations.
- Having your normal everyday routine disrupted.
- Being exposed to alcohol much more than usual.
- Feeling that a vacation away from home is also a vacation from sobriety.
Many people have a tendency to lower their guard when things are going well, or they might even feel like they can control their substance use when they’re in a good mood and positive environment.
Unfortunately, that is not how the nature of addiction works. A relapse or even a minor slip while on your sober travel vacation may very well follow you home and can become a major setback in your recovery process. The good news is that with a little care and advance planning you can still have a wonderful time traveling while maintaining your sobriety.
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Plan Sober Travel in Advance to Avoid Temptations
It’s always best to plan in advance before leaving for your trip to ensure that you will have the best chance to avoid any situations that might lead to missteps or temptations that could possibly trigger a relapse. A few sober planning ideas include:
- Be sure to let your travel companions know that maintaining your sobriety comes first and foremost to you. Emphasize that this is a sober travel experience for you. Let them know that they should be willing to help you avoid any uncomfortable situations involving possible alcohol or drug use.
- Contact your accommodations in advance. This will ensure that any alcohol that may be present or included in your stay is removed before your arrival. If staying in a hotel where there is a mini bar, letting the staff know in advance to empty it of any alcohol will help you avoid giving in to any cravings that you may experience during your time spent in the room.
- Sit as far away from airport bars as possible. If you tend to be a nervous flyer, this can help you avoid being tempted to drink to ease pre-flight jitters. It’s important to keep this in mind if you enter restaurants in the terminal that also serve alcohol. If possible, try to sit at a table rather than at the bar (even if you only intend to stay for a short time or only order food.)
- Try to adopt an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality from the start. Steering clear of places or circumstances that revolve around alcohol or drugs can help you focus more on enjoying other experiences while on your trip.
- Stay connected to your support network. Be sure to let them know that you’re going on a sober travel vacation, and you might need them at different times during the day. Send them text messages, photos, or give them a quick phone call throughout your trip. Ask them to check in with you at least every other day to see how well you’re managing any triggers or cravings.
- Reach out to local support groups. Being in an unfamiliar environment may lead to unexpected stress or anxiety triggers. Contacting a local AA or NA chapter is a great way to meet locals who are also in recovery. They can give you advice on ways to maintain your sobriety while you’re visiting the area.
Avoid “Trigger” Destinations
While this may seem like an obvious decision, there are some vacation destinations that are just a bad idea for someone in recovery. For example, planning a trip that includes places known primarily for their alcohol production or party scene is sure to be filled with temptations that can lead to a slip or relapse (i.e., Napa Valley, New Orleans during Mardi Gras, and Spring Break destinations like Cancun or Panama City.)
Recovery is a difficult enough journey as it is, and it’s best to avoid situations that might lead you astray. Focus instead on sober travel destinations where you will remain active during your vacation and where drinking alcohol is not expected.
Sober Travel Destination Ideas
- Schedule a wellness retreat. Sober travel has become a popular trend in recent months as many Covid-related travel restrictions have lifted, and many wellness retreat destinations have added programs that limit or even eliminate alcohol use altogether during their duration.You can focus on your health and well-being while remaining active in activities like yoga and meditation sessions. You can also use this time to free your mind in a safe environment away from any distracting thoughts of drinking or using.
- Explore the great outdoors. Hiking, backpacking, camping, kayaking, and other outdoor activities are great ways to experience the outdoors while remaining sober. If you are more the adventurous type, you can book a vacation that includes opportunities for scuba diving, surfing, skiing, rock climbing, or whitewater rafting to occupy your time. You’ll find that you don’t need any additional substances to create excitement.
- Book a vacation through a sober travel organization. You can eliminate unnecessary stress by leaving the travel planning to the experts. Many travel companies plan every aspect of their itineraries with sober travelers in mind. For example, Travel Sober and Sober Vacations International specialize in a variety of recovery-based cruises with destinations such as Alaska, the British Isles, Australia, New Zealand, and the Mexican Riviera. Many of these cruises also feature onboard sobriety conferences and keynote speakers.
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Never Lose Sight of Your Recovery Goals
Sober travel is a great way to get out, meet new people, and experience new things. However, it is not without its challenges, particularly if you’re in the early stages of recovery. Learning how to plan and enjoy a vacation based around your recovery goals, coping skills, and overall sober lifestyle will give you the freedom to explore exciting, sober activities that would not have been possible prior to treatment.
At Eudaimonia Recovery Homes, we know the struggle of trying to maintain sobriety and we provide essential recovery support services and sober homes to help you achieve lifelong recovery. We offer sober living Austin, Houston, and Colorado Springs where you can feel safe and supported through every step of your recovery journey.
Remember that maintaining your sobriety is always your primary goal. With proper planning to avoid triggers or situations that may lead to a slip or relapse, you can enjoy a sober travel experience and make new memories with friends or loved ones that will last a lifetime.
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