When you leave addiction treatment, you aim to transition into a balanced life in a way that keeps you resilient against triggers. This usually starts with reintegrating into your work, family, and social network, but fun is just as important as responsibilities in recovery. Planning a sober vacation is a chance to relax and also to experience new forms of substance-free fun. Still, it can be daunting to organize for the first time, so here’s our guide to vacations in addiction recovery.
Planning Your Vacation
Don’t Go to a Party Destination
Las Vegas, Amsterdam, New Orleans, Majorca, and Mykonos - what do they have in common? All of these popular destinations are famous for drawing in people looking for parties and intoxication. If you’re new to recovery, it is a good idea to avoid vacation spots with this reputation. Party destinations are full of triggers and may make you feel isolated as a person seeking sober relaxation. Remember that temptation aside, it’s not that fun to try to navigate through a sea of inebriated tourists.
Seek Out Culture
There are countless beautiful places in the world, in fact even in the United States, that have more sober activities than you could possibly do over the course of your holiday. Cities in the United States like Boston, New York and Chicago are full of historical sites, museums, interesting neighborhoods, parks, and restaurants that you can enjoy. Outside of America, look for cities with food cultures that intrigue you, art you’ve always wanted to see, or World Heritage Sites and fascinating histories to delve into.
Vacations in Nature
For those of you who love the outdoors, consider a holiday that takes you into the wild, so to speak. Long historic hiking trips or walks like the Camino de Santiago take you through breathtaking views without attracting any heavy substance users. Safaris, boating trips, and ecotourism are all excellent options that don’t center on drinking.
Family Oriented Spots
Destinations like theme parks designed with the whole family in mind are chock-full of opportunities for sober fun. Choose a location themed around something you love and let yourself be a fan, delight in a few thrilling rides, and just enjoy yourself. People of all ages are meant to find activities of interest, and they are not trying to cater to heavy drinkers.
Staying Sober on Vacation
Stay Connected To Sober Support
Sober friends or partners make wonderful companions on vacation. Traveling together allows you to look out for each other and offer one another support if you find yourself in new situations that trigger cravings. If you’re traveling with people who drink or use drugs, communicate with them in advance about your needs in recovery. Ensure they understand that sobriety is non-negotiable and that they’re happy to support your decisions on vacation.
If you’re traveling alone, stay in contact with your sober network. If you have a sponsor, you will want to keep up a method of reaching them throughout your vacation. Even if you have checked all the venues you plan to visit in advance, eventualities may come up where you need help to stay in control. Think about when and how you’ll be able to access the internet if you need it.
Vacations are meant to be relaxing, but we all know that the act of getting to and around a new location can cause anxiety. Common hiccups like flight delays or even cancellations, luggage charges, organizing transport at odd hours, or managing overwhelmed children can make our trip more stressful.
Plan your trip well in advance - give yourself ample time between flights and check in to sort out these challenges if they arise. If you’re traveling somewhere where you don’t speak the language, it is always good to know a few words to navigate your holiday with more ease. Make sure you’re planning at least one fun sober activity each day, so you always have something to look forward to.
Take Care of Your Health
Vacations can be chaotic for our self-care and health habits. Suddenly you’re in a new beautiful location, and you’re surrounded by delicious new food, drinks, and late nights - but you don’t need to let it get out of control. Take a bit of time and effort to get enough sleep, include physical activity every day, and pay attention to eating food with a healthy balance of nutrients.
Lapses in physical health feed into lapses in mental health. If you have ever struggled with addiction, you’ll know what a difference it makes when you feel calm and confident versus anxious, overwhelmed, or depressed. In a new environment on holiday, busy scheduling and constant stimuli make it harder to check in with our emotions. Putting a bit of work into self-care will help you deal with emotional triggers before they happen.
A short mindful meditation can work wonders for building up the extra self-control and reflectiveness that will help you stay sober on vacation. This practice takes up no space in your suitcase and only a short window of time each day but can be key to coping with triggers. Mindful breathing and observing will help you weather difficult moments and stay in tune with your stress and comfort levels. Perhaps most importantly, staying immersed in the present will also help you enjoy the simple sensations and joys of your holiday.