Whether for pleasure or business, traveling can be challenging for those working hard to stay sober. Traveling can feel like the ultimate test of your sobriety. With a little planning and foresight, you can minimize the risk and enjoy travel by keeping these tips in mind:
Become familiar with your destination
When researching a vacation destination, take care to avoid Germany’s Oktoberfest, Daytona Beach during spring break, and wine tours in Napa Valley. A “party” cruise culture with unlimited food and drinks are other vacation choices you might be wise to steer clear of.
If your goal is to remain sober, plan a trip to a national park where alcohol is prohibited. Utah is another good travel option, visit the “Mighty Five” national parks – Zion, Bryce Canyon, Arches, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands. Sober travel requires a travel focus on places that are not centered around a drinking and partying culture.
Sober travel is a new and booming travel option. Sober travel focuses on safe travel environments with like-minded sober individuals. There are travel tours for every imaginable activity – sober safaris, sober retreats, sober sports, sober cruises, and even sober Club Med. You can also arrange for a sober concierge as a sober guide through your desired travel destination, hitting the hot spots while skipping the temptations.
Take your support network with you
A strong support group is often essential to successful sobriety and traveling to unfamiliar places. Without that support, it can be quite unsettling. A big part of recovery is community and accountability. To stay sober while traveling, it’s often important to stay connected to your sponsor, your network, and your sober support. Today, it is easier than ever to carry your support system with you. Having a smartphone that allows access to apps with all types of inspirational and encouraging messages, daily reflections, and other sobriety tips. There are even apps that provide schedules for support group meetings in your travel area.
Plan activities before you get there
Although you don’t have to fill your every moment, it is wise to know what activities are available so you can plan your itinerary ahead of time. Learn about museums, film screenings, or popular restaurants. Do your homework and invite your co-workers as a cool new way to network that doesn’t revolve around drinking. Your co-workers may see your plans as a welcome change from the after-work drinks that are so often part of business trips.
Create a list of coping strategies
Traveling is undeniably stressful under the best circumstances. The unpredictability of traveling, new cultures, currency, foods and languages can be a trigger. Without coping strategies in place, drinking alcohol may begin to feel like a good option. Prepare yourself for travel by practicing stress-reduction techniques you can call upon as needed. Deep-breathing exercises can be done anywhere and at any time. Mindfulness techniques that can bring you into the moment instead of getting wound up about what might be.
“Proper preparation prevents poor performance”-Unknown
Recreate the comforts of home
When you are alone in your room, create a ritual of unpacking by lighting a small travel candle. Bring your own pillow that feels like the comfort of home. Recreate a comfort zone for yourself, as much as possible. You may have an emotional support animal or support person that you can bring with you while you travel.
Check in with yourself
Air travel is dehydrating and exhausting so drink lots of water. Yoga, although stretching in the aisle may look ridiculous, improves the way you feel throughout your trip. Constantly check in with yourself, ask yourself questions like are you tired? Are you thirsty? Don’t forget to listen to yourself when you answer.
Create boundaries for your success
Make choices that are good for you, no explanations are necessary. If you skip out on a networking event that revolves around drinking, give yourself permission to skip out on them on the road too.
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others”– Brene Brown
Finally, be mindful of what is important to you
You may be tempted to second guess your sobriety when surrounded by people sipping cocktails and laughing it up at the bar. Remember why you chose sobriety, be clear in the memory of why that life did not work for you. Remind yourself that being sober and present, is a travel experience worth remembering. Sobriety is magical, go out and discover the world with the courage of sobriety.