As you adjust to your new life in sobriety, you may decide it’s time to venture out of your comfort zone and plan a trip. Travel is something that no one wishes to give up in recovery, although it does require some careful planning and strategizing.
Planning a new adventure abroad can be absolutely exhilarating. Travel itself, however, is often quite stressful — the airport experience alone can trigger enough stress to trip up your recovery — so being well prepared in advance is essential. Continue reading to learn some helpful tips to maintain sobriety while traveling, and how to seek out support wherever you are.
How to manage challenges to your recovery when traveling
One of the biggest challenges of traveling sober is overcoming the preconceived notions in your own mind. Prior to recovery, going on vacation likely involved late nights and lots of partying, but now it is time to rewrite that script and redefine what it means to travel while maintaining your new sober lifestyle.
Consider these helpful sober travel tips:
- Get in the right mindset. Approach your trip intentionally, with the goal of exploring the sights and local customs. Find some fun activities and excursions at each stop ahead of time, so you’ll have something planned out rather than improvising and finding yourself in places that could be detrimental to your sobriety. Be sure your travel companions understand your boundaries, and create an exit strategy to deploy if triggers threaten.
- Prepare for the flight. For many people, the flight itself is a trigger for anxiety. Be sure to board the flight with some water bottles and snacks to avoid becoming hungry and dehydrated. Bring along reading materials, or download some movies or podcasts to take your mind off your anxiety while also providing entertainment during the flight.
- Have the hotel minibars emptied. Do not hesitate to contact the hotel ahead of time to request that your hotel room minibar be emptied upon your arrival. An empty fridge eliminates that temptation entirely.
- Schedule your activities strategically. When planning your daily schedule, opt for early departure times for any excursions or activities. This helps you stick to a decent bedtime, which in turn helps you avoid the temptation to hit the local nightlife scene.
- Ask about local special mocktails. Many regions feature a special mocktail or two at their local restaurants. Treat yourself to these exotic non-alcoholic beverages, unique to the destination, and remember that in a pinch there is always club soda.
- Seek out sober support. You can find sober support wherever you go. Most metropolitan cities have plenty of 12 Step meeting options. You can also stay connected to your sponsor while you are away, just be cognizant of the time difference when reaching out to them. If you are a member of an online support forum, those groups are also available around the clock.
- Stick to your self-care needs. Travel can be busy, exhausting and stressful. Remember to take some time out of the busy travel schedule to relax and allow some down time. Carve out a half hour for some meditation, reading, or book a massage or a facial for a special treat.
- Reward yourself. Plan in advance to gift yourself with something special with the money you would have spent on your substance of choice. Research items that the region is known for, such as leather goods, gold jewelry or art works, and select something special to remind you of your fun, sober, trip.
Revel in the fact that you no longer center your travel experiences around nightclubs and hotel bars, wasting precious vacation time feeling sick the next day. All the wonders of travel await you, so make your game plan and go see the world.
Ashley Addiction Treatment, formerly Father Martin’s Ashley, is a nationally recognized nonprofit leader in integrated, evidence-based treatment for substance use disorders. Our programs are accredited by The Joint Commission, and result in frequent publications of ongoing research into effective treatment methodologies. We offer holistic care that encompasses the mind, body and spirit through inpatient and outpatient treatment, provide drug detox, relapse prevention plans, family wellness programs and a variety of other services tailored to each patient’s unique needs. Our driving principle — “everything for recovery” — reinforces our mission to transform and save lives through the science of medicine, the art of therapy and the compassion of spirituality, and is complemented by our philosophy of healing with respect and dignity. For information about our comprehensive programs, please call (866) 313-6307.