How to Plan for a Safe and Sober Vacation

Staying sober on vacation

Enjoying a Safe and Alcohol-Free Vacation

Staying Sober: Planning a Safe and Alcohol-Free Vacation

By Jennifer Woodson

If you’re in addiction recovery, the upcoming vacation season might have you feeling anxious. How are you supposed to make vacation plans without breaking your recovery process? I’m here to tell you: there is hope. You can indeed have fun on your vacation – while remaining safe and sober.

As someone who is in recovery, you should ask yourself some important questions before agreeing to vacations where other people will be traveling with you. Are the people whom you are vacationing with supportive of you? Will they be mindful of your addiction recovery and your desire not to drink? Are they heavy drinkers themselves? Will they be partaking in drinking or substance abuse during this vacation? If so, is it worth it to you to risk your hard-earned recovery? 

When determining where to stay on vacation, for instance, the newly sober (or anyone in addiction recovery) should shy away from hotels with bars, casino resorts, or any other type of resort that is known for appealing to a “party goer” crowd. Instead, opt for quieter locations such as an AirBNB, a private cabin, or even staying in a guest room at the house of a supportive (and preferably sober) friend. You’ll have more control and less temptation in those situations.

While researching, remember: the Internet is a beautiful thing. Use it to your advantage. You can find lots of information about hotels, resorts, and your vacation destination by checking out their websites, travel recommendation sites, social media sites, or a simple Google search for recommendations. You can also check with friends or with your sponsor to see if they have any ideas for you. A general rule of thumb is: if you see that the hotel website has lots of ads for alcohol, or if the hotel or resort offers a 24/7 bar or casino, you might want to stay somewhere else instead. 

When picking your activities for your vacation, you may also want to consider working a local AA meeting into your plans. This is especially important if you are traveling to a place far from home, are early in your recovery process, or anticipate lots of temptation for substance abuse at your vacation destination. Having the support of a local meeting or others who are in recovery will prove very helpful. At the very least, take your sponsor’s phone number with you so you can call them if needed.

In a perfect world, we’d be able to control our surroundings to the point that we could guarantee there’d be no temptations during our vacation. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world. There’s a good chance you’ll encounter a temptation at some point during your vacation – so plan ahead. 

For these instances, you’ll need to pay attention to signs and symptoms of H.A.L.T. If you start feeling Hungry, Anxious, Lonely or Tired, you’ll be more tempted to partake in drugs or alcohol. By staying connected to your body and your emotions, you’ll be more aware and better equipped to resist temptations.

As you can see, there are many fun, safe and sober vacation options for those in addiction recovery. Once you’ve determined the types of places, events, social situations and (possibly) people you’ll need to avoid during your trip, it becomes much easier to plan from there. Good luck and happy planning!

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