5 Ways to Stay Sober While Traveling
Whether traveling for business or pleasure this summer, traveling can bring about many different struggles for those working day in and day out for their sobriety. Traveling sober is a different experience for those in recovery, being away from your everyday support network and the daily routine that you created for yourself in your recovery. While traveling, you are often surrounded by fellow travelers who use their vacation as a time to relax and unwind. For many people, relaxing on vacation is often accompanied by alcohol. Being away from your comfort zone and surrounded by these temptations, this could be the ultimate test for your sobriety.
Don’t delay planning your family getaway, business trip, or some time away for yourself away from daily responsibilities. There are many ways you can minimize the risk of temptations and maximize your chances of being able to enjoy your vacation. Keep these five things in mind when making these plans:
- Choose your Destination Mindfully
- Bring Your Support With You
- Plan Out Daily Activities In Advance
- Plan Your Coping Strategies Ahead Of Time
- Keep In Mind What You Could Be Missing Out On
Being in recovery and planning a vacation can seem difficult, but there are many options available to you. Of course, planning a trip out to Napa Valley is out of the question, but keep in mind the opportunities and culture in other travel experiences. A cruise to the Bahamas or Mexico are perfect examples of vacation centered around eating and drinking. Beach resorts are designed for those who plan on sunbathing and sipping on cocktails. Would you be comfortable in such environments?
Try to think outside of the box for your summer vacation. There are so many places you can visit and activities that you can do that don’t involve alcohol being the main focus. If you’re a fan of nature, you can plan a camping trip at a national park where they don’t allow campers to bring in alcohol. Other fun alcohol-free outdoor ideas are hiking, amusement parks, or beach days. If you want to plan for a few days, a road trip with close friends or sober supports for sightseeing is always a good idea. Plan a road trip across your neighboring states with friends or family for site seeing.
If you’re looking to expand your sober network and have fun, look into alcohol-free vacations. Sober Celebrations offers sober cruises. These sober vacations can connect you with many others in recovery, who have the same primary purpose of staying sober.
Especially if you are new in your sobriety, it can be nerve-wracking being away from your support network. You’ve grown accustomed to having your support group only a phone call or the next meeting away. Being away on vacation does not mean you are unable to bring your support with you. Your support group may not be there in person, but they are never more than a phone call or message away.
There are also many apps devoted to those in recovery, many of which are free to download. Certain apps offer inspirational messages of encouragement, daily reflections, as well as everyday tips to help you stay sober. There are also meeting finder apps available, so a meeting is always accessible. If you are struggling and don’t have access to phone service or wi-fi, try meditating or talking to your Higher Power.
Don’t wait until you arrive at your destination to make plans for your daily activities. Find out what there is to do as you are planning your trip. You don’t have to fill every minute of your trip, but it is better to have some activities or tours planned to add structure to your daily schedule. If you are away on a business trip and have downtown in between meetings, check out the area and find a new meeting. If you are traveling with any coworkers, find group activities you all could attend; such as a museum or restaurant you may want to visit.
One of the most common relapse triggers is stress, and traveling can be stressful. When traveling, you are dealing with different stressors than everyday life; new culture, new people, new foods, and languages. If you’re going out of the country, you’ll also have to figure out different currency. As exciting as traveling can be, it is also stressful to be out of the comfort zone that you’ve built. Before you get to your destination, the airport can be a dangerous and stressful place. Alcohol and airports typically go hand in hand. Make sure that you have something to distract you while you are waiting to board. Books, audiobooks, puzzles, and games are always a good way to take your mind off a chaotic environment.
There are stress reduction methods and practices that can be done almost anymore if you find yourself in a high-stress or anxiety situation. Deep-breathing exercises are an immensely helpful stress reduction practice that can be utilized anywhere. Box breathing is especially helpful as you have to focus on breathing, holding, and releasing your breath. Mindfulness-based stress reduction is another way you can focus on your recovery and the positivity in the situation.
There are several mindful meditations that you can do to help deal with stress and anxiety. For example, body scans are where you lay down on your back and put all your focus on your body from head to tow. Seated meditations are where you sit, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. Walking meditations, similar to seated meditation, but you walk around focusing on your breath, moving, and physical sensations. There are many more techniques of mindfulness exercises.
Inevitably, things will go wrong, even small things. Stress will happen at some point during your trip. It’s essential to remember that these moments will one day become the “Remember that one time when…” stories you laugh about down the road.
Being on vacation and watching people sipping drinks and enjoying themselves at the bar can bring back the “good times” of drinking. Remembering only the good times can make it easy to romanticize one drink. We don’t remember the broken hearts, pain, and guilt we felt every time we took our drinking too far. We don’t remember shaking until we got that first drink or drug of the day. It can be easy for you to start feeling sorry for yourself that you can’t be “normal.” Remember, by not drinking or using the only thing you are “missing out on” is a life that didn’t work out for you. You will be able to remember and experience everything your vacation has to offer, rather than trying to remember what you did the night before and trying to recoup from the hangover. You’ll be able to go home sober.