7 Tips for Staying Sober While Traveling
Whether you’re recently sober or have been clean for some time, traveling anywhere on vacation can be a test of your sobriety. Because many vacation destinations and even business events focus heavily on alcohol and drinking in social settings, traveling may mean being constantly exposed to temptation, being pressured into drinking by friends and family, or even being left alone in hotel rooms with alcohol.
However, while temptation will be present, traveling does not have to mean an end to your sobriety. With a small amount of planning and self control, you can work your way through your trip, enjoy it as much as possible, and stay sober.
Here are 7 Tips for Staying Sober While Traveling
1. Plan Your Coping Strategies – Most travel areas are filled with drinking, sometimes drugs, and parties or social events where alcohol is expected. Even business events are often ended with alcohol. No matter where you are traveling, or for what reason, you will likely be exposed to alcohol at some point. You will also be exposed to several other relapse triggers, which will make it more likely for you to seek out alcohol on your own, without it being offered to you. These include:
- Travel stress
- Busy environments
- Nightclubs and bars
- Boredom (such as on a bus, plane, on a beach, or on a boat with nothing to do)
- Locations with alcohol such as wine tours
- Parties and celebrations
For example, many conventions will contain most or all of these triggers in the form of busy schedules, stress, exposure to alcohol in hotels and bars, exposure to alcohol at parties later, boredom, etc. If you are traveling for pleasure, these problems can get worse, especially if you want to enjoy yourself, because you may trick yourself into thinking that “one more time” is okay because you want to let loose and have fun. Your goal should be to plan coping strategies for each of these triggers, find things to do, and remind yourself that alcohol is not the answer and it won’t make you happy.
2. Plan Activities – From stress relief to just having fun, activities can keep you busy, entertained, and less focused on alcohol. Most areas offer some form of activities, no matter why you are traveling. For example, hotels often include gyms and pools, you may be able to go hiking, go to local museums or exhibits, or if you are on vacation, take local tours to experience the culture. Research your destination, decide what you want to do and plan it in advance. Importantly, your activities don’t have to be elaborate or cost money. You can plan to simply read on the beach or Skype with a friend once you get back to your hotel. The important thing is that you have things to do so you are not bored or lonely, both of which are states that could induce you to seek out alcohol.
3. Find a Sober Buddy – If you are recently sober, it may be helpful for you to find a friend or someone from your sobriety group to be your sober buddy for the trip. You can choose someone who is going with you or someone at home, but you should discuss your feelings with them and ask them to help you stay accountable and to talk you down if you are experiencing cravings. You can also check in with them throughout the trip to add accountability, call or Skype with them to discuss cravings, or simply send regular updates of your progress.
4. Maintain Your Recovery Routine – Most of us maintain some type of recovery routine, which likely includes regular exercising, a healthy diet, and possibly mindfulness, yoga, or meditation. No matter what your recovery routine is, you should take care to keep it up while traveling. While none of us likes to think about hitting the gym while traveling, you can maintain exercise routines through fun activities like hiking, cycling tours, surfing, swimming, or joining local yoga or pilates groups on beaches. You can also likely very easily find time in the morning or at night to meditate or practice a mindfulness routine. In most cases, the hardest parts of keeping up your routine will be eating good food and finding the motivation to continue your routine in a different environment. Finding healthy food can be a challenge, especially if you are on a low budget, but if you can’t afford to or don’t want to eat healthy at restaurants, you can consider supplementing your diet with dried nuts and fruits during the day, taking vitamins, and ensuring that you get enough fiber and protein with the meals you have.
5. Discuss Your Plans with Others – Accountability can help you to stay on track, will help to ensure that others won’t try to pressure you into drinking, and can help you to solidify your own plans to stay sober. Discussing your destination, how you intend to stay sober, and the fact that you have to stay sober with your close friends and family and any traveling partners is an important part of maintaining your sobriety. If you are traveling with others, discuss your need to remain sober and ask them to hold you accountable throughout the trip.
6. Find a Recovery Meeting at Your Destination – Most people are unaware that you can easily find and step in on recovery meetings nearly anywhere on the globe. Finding a recovery meeting at your destination will help you to find activities that do not involve alcohol, will give you motivation to avoid alcohol during your trip, and will give you a sense of accountability once you get there. You’ll also be able to discuss your feelings and the difficulty of temptation with other like minded individuals, which can be extremely helpful. If you are part of a local recovery group, you can check for branches near your destination. If you aren’t, most areas have local groups or some type of AA meetings, which are easy to find and which welcome guest visitors. Your goal should be to find meetings in advance, contact the group to ensure that you can go, and plan the date and time that you will go, so you are held accountable.
7. Take Care of Yourself and Have Fun – HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired) symptoms are just as likely to cause a relapse while traveling as anywhere else. Whether you’re headed to a beach or to a business, make sure you take care of yourself, stop to eat, watch your stress and energy levels, and otherwise manage your health.
Traveling can put a strain on your recovery, but it isn’t impossible to stay sober while traveling. Ideally, you will be able to plan to go to places that don’t involve alcohol, pick events and things to do, and go with friends or sober traveling companions who will be able to help you. However, if you are traveling alone, are surrounded by alcohol, and are frequently exposed to triggers, you can still make it through the trip. Just remember that you will be stressed, you will crave alcohol, and you will have to work to overcome the cravings, but you can do so by maintaining your routines, talking with others, and finding accountability in local sobriety groups.
If you or a loved one is currently experiencing a problem with addiction to drugs or alcohol, don’t wait until it’s too late. Please Contact Beginnings Treatment Centers now to speak with one of our professional admissions specialists. There is no obligation or cost for the initial consultation, and quick action might save your life or the life of your loved one.