7 Tips for Sober Travelers While Vacationing

Sobriety is different for everyone. Some people have never drank, others fear to because of the actions of a family member, and some have chosen sobriety as a way to combat their own struggles with alcohol or other substances.

However, in a world dominated by clubbing and the bar scene, and with so many equating alcohol/substances with “a good time”, it can be hard for people who want to be sober, especially when traveling since so many of the experiences tends to be in bars or clubs, or at parties.

Fortunately, Sarah O’Brien, an addiction specialist with Ark Behavioral Health, has given us some great insight into ways in which sober individuals can have a fun and exciting vacation while remaining sober. Here are some of her tips:

~ Know your triggers: An important part of any recovery plan is understanding triggers. Before you travel somewhere, make a physical or mental list of your triggers (bars, people or situations that trigger anxiety, being alone, having easier access to substances, etc.) and come up with practical ways to address those issues when and if they arise.

~ Manage your diet: Vacations are for indulging, so feel free to enjoy different foods and non-alcoholic drinks. But remember that nutritional balance is vital to maintaining mood and emotional balance in recovery, so make it a point to watch what you’re consuming and how it makes you feel.

~ Have accountability: For many people, being alone on vacation opens the door to relapse because their usual supports are not in place. Be sure to check in with a friend or family member regularly, call your sponsor if you feel the urge to drink or use drugs, or find another way to stay accountable while on vacation. If you usually attend a 12-step group, you might even find a recovery group meeting in the area you’re traveling to.

Finding community with other sober individuals is a great way to have accountability.(photo: Shawn Goldberg)

~ Continue recovery habits: Going on a vacation doesn’t mean you have to leave everything behind. If you typically start your mornings with gratitude journaling or meditation, keep up those practices while you’re traveling. This will help to manage your stress levels and keep your emotions stable.

~ Practice self care: A vacation is the perfect time to focus on your physical and emotional needs. Take your time getting ready in the morning, practice verbal affirmations, have a social media detox, and use the travel time to relax and care for yourself.

~ Find sober activities: One of the best ways to stay sober while traveling is to plan ahead. Look for local museums, hiking spots, restaurants, tours, and other activities. This will help you to avoid boredom, which can lead to substance use. By knowing what you’re doing ahead of time, you’ll already have the framework you need to avoid using drugs or alcohol.

Outdoors adventures, like kayak tours, make for excellent sober activities, plus they’re unique ways to see a destination. (photo: Okimo)

~ Take precautions before you leave: Before you leave for a vacation, you should choose your destination carefully (avoiding those known for partying or drug use), ask hotel staff ahead of time to remove the minibar from your room, and travel with people who understand your recovery process.

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