Staying sober on vacation can seem tough, but with the right attitude it can be just what you need. Here are our tips on how to have an awesome sober vacation.
Are you dreaming of white beaches but trying to do so without imagining margaritas, too?
If you’ve recently committed to sobriety, the idea of a sober or drug-free vacation may seem somewhat ironic–if not entirely impossible.
After all, a lot of people associate vacations with leisure activities like drinking, smoking joints and eating decadent food.
Nonetheless, sobriety does not keep you from enjoying yourself, no matter the destination. A sober vacation can be in your future, especially if you keep the following tips in mind.
Read on for insight!
1. Build a Support Network
If you’ve just emerged from a rehab program or sobriety support group, you may be well-versed in the value of a support system. Such a network has likely been key to committing to sobriety outside of programs and meetings.
If you are simply interested in cutting calories and alcohol dependence during your next vacation, you may not readily have such a support network. Before you jump on a plane or board that cruise ship, take the time to identify your supporters.
Supporters of sobriety are more than mere besties or family members.
Your network may be made up of connections from your support group or rehab program. It could also consist of a relative or friend who has been intimately involved in your recovery process.
Whatever the case, prioritize supporters who are familiar with your desire to stay sober.
Even better, make sure that the people you go with on your vacation are well-versed in your need for a sober trip. Your travel companions may even offer to go sober with you!
Inform your supporters about your upcoming trip before departure. Ask if it is okay to communicate during your vacation via email, text, or phone. Identify your needs so that your supporters can know how to support you.
Keep the contact information of all members of your support network on hand.
2. Pack on the Indulgences
For many vacationers, fancy cocktails and tequila shots are the foundational indulgences of a well-earned trip. Drinking is often a “treat” in this regard.
As you plan for your sober vacation, identify ways that you can indulge in on your upcoming trip without turning to alcohol. This may mean booking a nicer room at that hotel, hiring a personal guide to tour an extravagant temple, or extending your stay at the beach by a few more days.
Showering yourself with indulgences in this way can make every moment feel like a treat, without the need to reach for a shot glass. Aim to indulge in one treat per vacation day, particularly if your budget can accommodate this.
If you are traveling with friends or partners, ask them to join you in this plan for an indulgent, drink-free trip.
3. Practice Self-Awareness Activities
The very notion of sobriety on vacation may be intimidating, especially if past vacations have been drinking trips. You may worry about being in your head or experiencing alcohol cravings.
Other people who have just recovered from an addiction may fear a relapse, exacerbated feelings of isolation, or mere boredom.
To prepare for these thoughts and feelings, build self-awareness activities and practices into your vacation itineraries. Sign up for yoga or meditation classes in your destination city.
Bring along a journal to document what’s going through your head throughout your trip. If exercise helps you clear your mind, make sure you have easy access to a solid workout at all times.
Throughout the vacation itself, perform daily “check-ins” with yourself. When you wake up, do a quick body scan to see how you are physically feeling. Observe any thoughts you may have about drinking, and let yourself explore these safely and lovingly.
Do the same several times throughout the day, especially towards evening (when drinking is most likely to occur). If possible, communicate these explorations with a friend or partner.
4. Know What to Say
You may be anxious about what others might think if you embark on a sober vacation. This is perfectly natural, especially if you are traveling in a group, on a cruise ship, or to a very social destination.
If you know you will find yourself in areas with alcohol, prepare what you will say if someone asks you why you aren’t drinking. This can be valuable even if such an instance doesn’t occur.
Consider also what you may say if a friend doesn’t know about your sobriety and inquires about your past or your refraining from alcohol.
This exercise can be empowering. With your response in hand, you can confidently navigate any conversations and environments you encounter on your trip.
5. Plan a Foodie Vacation
Some vacations are drink-centered. Why not embark on a trip that is food-centered?
Indeed, vacations are often all about consuming. We savor beautiful sites, delicious food, tasty drinks. Instead of making alcohol the focus, opt for cuisine instead.
Plan a foodie vacation that puts flavor and taste at the fore. Choose restaurants ahead of time known for their authentic local fare or prized dishes. Seek out restaurants that don’t have alcohol readily available or those that are alcohol-free.
With a foodie vacation, you can experience all the pleasure of consumption without the relapse or the hangover.
6. Have an Escape Plan
You may find yourself in an uncomfortable or awkward situation during your vacation. Your friends may take you to a bar, for example, or invite you to a club.
Or, you may simply experience intense cravings, a relapse, or withdrawal.
It’s best to plan for your response to these situations ahead of time so that you can navigate your vacation fearlessly.
Craft an escape plan. Know what to do and whom to call if you do relapse. Identify alternatives to going to a bar or a club. Reinforce your support system and choose who will be able to help in each specific situation.
You don’t have to break down every worst-case scenario here. Simply have a plan for taking care of yourself should the unexpected arise.
Final Thoughts: Your Amazing Sober Vacation
The words “amazing” and “sober” don’t have to be opposites. It is possible to stay sober on your next vacation and bring back incredible memories.
Before you embark, identify your support network. Ask if it’s okay to be in touch with your supporters during your trip. Know what to say if someone asks about your sobriety, and always have an escape plan at the ready.
Practice self-awareness and self-care on your trip. And don’t forget to indulge in what you love, be it food or otherwise, on your sober vacation!
At Muse Treatment, we are passionate about helping our patients find empowerment in their sobriety. Learn more about the programs we offer here.