For many trying to maintain long-term sobriety, the prospect of traveling and vacationing in recovery is a daunting one. You may find that you associate traveling, vacation, and general leisure time with heavy binge drinking and drug use. Many people choose to binge drink on vacation, so if you find that you are traveling with friends who are not sober, staying sober yourself can be a difficult task.
However, staying sober while on vacation isn’t impossible. As you grow along your journey in sobriety, you can learn new healthy habits and unlearn unhealthy ones. Having fun without alcohol and drugs may be new to you, but it is possible. If you’ve lived your life associating leisure with substance, here are some suggestions to change your relationship with free time.
Keep Triggers in Mind and Know Your Surroundings
Whether you are newly sober or are far along in your journey to recovery, it is always important to know what triggers you to want to use. Maybe it’s a certain setting like a bar or restaurant, or a certain friend that you haven’t seen in a while. When you travel to a new place and are free of the worries of work and life commitments, you may feel as though you want to visit a local bar or restaurant or behave in ways outside your normal routine.
It is important to know your level of comfort with being in these environments. Everyone’s triggers and ability to tolerate certain environments where alcohol and drugs may be present are different. If you’re newly sober, one of the things you may find yourself doing is working to shift attention from alcohol and drugs while on vacation or relaxing at home. If you’re heading to a place that is associated with heavy partying, it is important to try and shift your focus away from those associations and towards healthy, sober activities. Exploring the local landscape, going for a swim, or exploring nature on a hike are some of the things you can do when traveling sober.
Forget the FOMO
If you are newly sober and vacationing with friends, you may find that you struggle with “FOMO” or fear of missing out. FOMO is that feeling you get when you see the people you love or strangers having fun that you either miss out on or cannot partake in. You may find yourself in a situation where you see your friends drinking and laughing which may trigger feelings of being left out. However, it is important to remember that you aren’t being left out; you’re present in the moment right there. Your friends love you and care about you, and you are there with them. Secondly, it is important to remember that you aren’t “missing out” on vacation by staying substance-free. Whether you are newly sober or have been sober for a long time, you know very well what alcohol is, how it makes you feel, and the consequences of drinking. It is not an experience that is new or foreign to you. Focus instead on the place that you’re in and the people you’re surrounding yourself with to enjoy your time as a sober person.
Travel With The Right Group
If you’re traveling in a big group, it’s worth considering their habits and their expectations for how the trip is going to go. If you know that your old college buddies are planning to spend five days poolside with drinks in hand, its perfectly fine to set expectations first and say “Hey, I am gonna wake up pretty early and go for a hike up the mountain” or “Hey I have a massage scheduled for 8 AM, so I am going to turn in early.” If you think that the people you are traveling with may pressure you into situations you are uncomfortable with, maybe take a solo trip, or plan your daily activities out in advance.
Plan Ahead and Expect the Unexpected
Whether you’re traveling alone or with friends, vacationing as a sober person is a fun and extremely rewarding experience. In order to ensure that you have a good time without putting yourself in potentially triggering situations, you’ll want to plan ahead. Before you get your boarding pass, look around online for fun, sober activities like hiking, kayaking, ziplining, etc. If you are traveling to a place that is associated with heavy drinking, expect the locals to try and lure you in for a free drink or round of shots, and be prepared to say no thanks.
It is worth noting that not every moment of every day has to be meticulously planned either. You can absolutely take a day to just do nothing or get lost around the city. Having a plan laid out is good if you feel as though you want to avoid any settings or circumstances that may trigger you. Traveling absolutely can be done successfully without substance use, you just need to learn to reject the former association between the two and try a new way of life.
Vacation and leisure time do not have to include drinking and substance abuse. You may see the two as related, especially if you are a person who has struggled with these things in the past. If you find that you are worried about traveling while staying sober, our team at Achieve Concierge is here to help. At Achieve, we believe that recovery is possible. We specialize in mental and emotional disorders, substance abuse, and long-term therapy. Our members have access to a wide variety of services that range from cognitive behavioral therapy to psychopharmacology treatment regimens. If you are quarantining before your travels, we also offer full telehealth services to our members so you can get the help you need from the comfort of your own home. Don’t let anxiety and worry keep you from enjoying yourself, you deserve it! Call us today for more information at +1 (619) 393-5871.