By: Jackie Hammers-Crowell
Summer is approaching, and many of us are starting to think about vacation plans. If you’re new to addiction recovery, you may be wondering how to avoid relapse when you go on vacation. Here are a few ways to maintain your recovery on vacation while still having fun.
Pros of Sober Travel
There is a culture around alcohol and drug use when traveling. Getting high in Amsterdam, having a glass of wine in Paris, trying the beer in Ireland…the list goes on and on for how substance use is romanticized, but there are substantial benefits to not indulging:
- More money for the other things you want to do – the money you might have previously spent on alcohol or other drugs can now be spent on fun activities, souvenirs or better accommodations.
- No hangovers – this will give you more time that you feel good enough for enjoying the adventures you have planned for yourself. Instead of sitting in a hotel room feeling miserable, you can enjoy what the area has to offer.
- The ability to remember what you did – without the memory-erasing effects of substances, you might better be able to recall how you enjoyed your time.
When you are in recovery at home, you have probably built a daily routine that supports your recovery goals. Vacation, however, may put you in a position of experiencing triggers that aren’t part of your daily life or in places where you have limited access to your usual coping skills. It can be helpful to think ahead about what the vacation needs to look like.
Carly Benson, a recovering alcoholic with a decade of sobriety, shared some ways she maintains her recovery while still having fun on her travels:
- Commit to your sobriety before you ever leave – at every stage of the trip, visualize and plan for this to be an amazing, sober experience. Refuse to indulge in thoughts about how much you’ll miss drinking or getting high at your destination.
- The airport is a series of triggers, one after the other – by recognizing this in advance, you can mentally prepare for the delays and annoyances, the temptation of the airport bar, and more. Set yourself up for success by bringing your own snacks and water bottle, as well as plenty of activities to keep you busy during your flights.
- Build in reasons to stay sober – if you are looking forward to an activity that you already paid for in the morning, you’re less likely to give in to the temptation to drink the night before. Research ahead of time what you will be able to do in your destination and have a plan in place that gets you really excited about where you are going and makes you want to avoid drinking or getting high.
- Travel with birds of your same feather – if you are traveling with someone, be sure to talk to them early on in the planning process about the accommodations and adjustments you need to make to protect your sobriety. If this person does not respect the boundaries you are setting for yourself, you might wish to consider if they are the right travel companion for you.
- Ensure that the trip promotes your self-care – there is still room for gratitude practices, meditation, working out, and other routines you do at home in support of your recovery. You can also indulge in self-care that you may not normally be able to work in, like a spa treatment.
The Sober Travel Industry
Some people in recovery have chosen to make it their business to demystify the process of seeing the world while sober and remove as many of the triggers as possible:
- Choose Life Adventures is a travel agency that specializes in sober travel. They also have a blog that details how to enjoy travel in recovery.
- Sober Vacations International is another travel agency that focuses on providing substance-free travel itineraries.
Safe Harbor Recovery Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, is focused on helping our clients to develop recovery plans that meet their unique long-term recovery needs. Whether you are someone with the urge to travel the world or you prefer to stay close to home, we are able to help you create a plan that will incorporate your individual needs and lifestyle into your plan for sobriety.