For those in addiction recovery, developing a healthy daily routine is paramount. Learning how to stick to that routine is a way to reduce stress and avoid the temptations that lead to unhealthy choices. Traveling can disrupt this routine, so the thought of taking a vacation can be a bit frightening to people on a recovery path. It is totally possible to plan and execute a wonderful sober vacation, however. Here are some tips.
Plan a vacation where drinking is not the focus
This may seem obvious, but the fact is many vacation spots are centered around alcohol. Traveling in general is fraught with possible triggers – from the airport bar, to the duty-free shop, to the complementary gin and tonic on the flight. Those are impossible to avoid. But that’s why it’s so important to make sure you have a lot of non-alcohol-related activities to do once you arrive at your destination.
“It’s best to avoid major party cities like Las Vegas, New Orleans, or perhaps Cancun. Try to find low-key destinations like quiet beaches or beautiful mountain trips. There are plenty of relaxing, exciting, and fun destinations to go to, so be sure to do your research when planning your trip,” notes famous recovery program Pat Moore Foundation.
Pick cities where there is a lot to do other than substances, like Amsterdam (bike riding, history, art museums), Tokyo (food, temples, gardens, gaming culture), or Sydney (architecture, walking tours, nature, and culture).
Book through a sober vacation service
If you don’t feel confident that you can plan and execute a sober vacation on your own, why not get a little help? There are dozens of travel agencies, hotels & resorts, cruises, and retreats that cater to people in addiction recovery. They provide the structure for a safe and sober vacation. Many offer group travel options but if you’re looking for solo travel you can find that as well.
Check out this article for a ton of great options.
Keep your routine intact
While a vacation is technically a break from your daily routine, that routine is helping you stay on a sober path at home. That’s why for someone in recovery, it’s important not to deviate from your routine too much. Sure, it’s vacation, so there is some leeway. But for the most part, you’ll stay happier and healthier if you try to disrupt your schedule as little as possible.
“In recovery, such disruptions to your normal routine can spell disaster, inviting relapse — which is definitely something you don’t want to have to deal with. Help ward off impending trouble by taking sensible precautions,” says ElementsBehavioralHealth.com.
How do you do that? Through sleep, diet, and exercise. Don’t go off the deep end when it comes to unhealthy eating. Make sure you get your daily physical activity quota met. And don’t try to fit more vacation hours into the day by burning the candle at both ends. Vacation stress is real, and it can be more intense than everyday life stress at times. Keep your body and mind healthy so you don’t fall victim to stress-induced relapse while on holiday.
It may be tempting to fall of the grid – it is vacation after all, and you may have done this in the past. But as a person in recovery, you must keep your communication lines with your support structure open and unimpeded. If you feel you are struggling to stay on the path, contact a friend, family member, or sponsor. Seek out a local AA or NA meeting (you can usually find one wherever you are, use this meeting finder).