Follow these 8 Tips for Staying Sober on Vacation! Going on vacation is fun, but it can bring challenges to your sobriety. Being out of your normal routine can increase anxiety and make dealing with family dynamics and daily decisions about what to do and where to eat seem more difficult than usual. However, with proper planning and the right preparation, you will have fun, make new happy memories, and stay true to your commitment while on vacation.
Here are eight tips to help you stay sober on vacation.
Be Honest with Yourself
Before making solid plans, set your intentions regarding your sobriety. Always be honest with yourself. If you think you may have an ulterior motive for your vacation, such as having a drink on the plane or drinking or using drugs at a club, this is a sign of relapse behavior. Talk about your intentions with your sponsor, a trusted friend, or your counselor to get clear, honest feedback.
Set Vacation Goals
Think about your goals for your vacation. Are you vacationing alone, with family, or with friends? Do you want to visit a new location, experience a different culture, or take the family on an adventure? Do you want to rest and relax or stay busy with activity? How will you take care of yourself each day? What are some routines you could put in place to keep you focused on sobriety even as you are having fun?
Visualize Yourself on Vacation
Visualize yourself having fun and being happy without substances. Focus on what you want your vacation to feel like instead of focusing on your worries. To avoid worrying about relapse, have a plan in place for what you will do if cravings arise. Visualize yourself stepping away to take a break, call or text a sober friend, or shifting your attention to a fun activity. By visualizing a pleasant, substance-free vacation, you’ll be better prepared to handle any temptations that arise.
Know Your Relapse Triggers
Have an honest conversation about your relapse triggers with friends or family who will be part of your vacation. For example, if you always had a beer in the airport, plan to stop by a coffee shop for your favorite caffeinated drink, or have someone hold your money until you are on the airplane. By minimizing your exposure to triggers, you will feel stronger and more resilient if you encounter something unavoidable or unexpected.
Choose Your Destination Wisely
If possible, choose a destination and activities that do not include high-trigger events or places. For example, all-inclusive resorts, spring break locations, and cruises place a lot of emphasis on alcoholic beverages. Instead, choose activities and locations that are new to you. Try a restaurant with local cuisine, go snorkeling, visit local museums, or learn to ski. If you are visiting family, avoid going to places you associate with drinking or using drugs, such as a particular friend’s house or a favorite bar.
Stay Connected to Your Support System
It is essential to stay connected to your support system while on vacation. Call your sponsor or a trusted friend if you feel like you are in a bad situation or just to let them know you are doing okay. Stay connected by going to a 12-Step meeting where you are vacationing. Have coffee with a member you meet there and ask them to recommend places and activities in the area.
Make Your Go-To Drink a Local Non-Alcoholic Beverage
Many big cities in the United States have an alcohol-free drink unique to the area. Find out what it is and make it your drink of choice as you explore the city. If you find yourself in a place without a specialty drink, decide what drink to fall back on. Iced tea, lemonade, club soda, tonic water? Choose a drink that is easily accessible and that will feel safe and comforting.
Pack Your Recovery Toolbox
When you go on vacation, make sure you “pack” your recovery toolbox. If you like to read, make sure your iPad or tablet has your favorite recovery books. Create a playlist of your favorite motivational songs. Check that your favorite recovery podcasts and apps are on your phone. Pack your journal and a notebook to record your vacation experiences. Take all of the resources that work for you with you on your vacation. They will support your recovery and help maintain your sobriety.
Help is Available
If you or someone you love struggles with addiction to alcohol or drugs, we can help. Call and speak to a caring professional at Anabranch Recovery Center in Terre Haute, Indiana. We will put your mind at ease and help you decide what level of care will work best for you.
About the Author:
Terry Hurley is a retired educational professional and freelance writer with more than fifty years of experience. A former reading specialist and learning center director, Terry loved her years working with children in the educational field. She has written extensively for print and online publications specializing in education and health issues. For the last six years, her writing focus has been on addiction and mental health issues.