How Can I Stay Sober While on Vacation?

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I got sober in January, right after New Year’s. I planned it that way, figuring it would be a little easier to wait until all the holiday parties were out of the way. I would have my last hurrah and then not face any temptation until St. Patrick’s Day. (I’m Irish, so it’s expected that I enjoy some green beer.)

For several months, it seemed like I had the right idea. I had established a healthy routine of attending AA meetings regularly and taking part in sober activities.

Then May rolled around, my husband started bringing home vacation brochures, and I went into panic mode. For him, going on vacation is a well-earned respite from the daily grind, but I depend on my structured day-to-day routine. It makes me feel secure in my ability to resist temptation. The thought of trying to stay sober while away from home was terrifying.

I contacted my sponsor. She has been sober for eleven years, so I figured she had quite a few vacations under her belt. We met for coffee the next morning, and she slid a little spiral notebook across the table to me. She called it her “vacation Bible’. In it were various notes she had recorded over the years.

Here are the strategies that I found most helpful:

Choose Your Destination Wisely – While some destinations are obviously not good choices, such as a trip to Germany during Octoberfest, there are also other things to keep in mind, such as the culture or structure of various vacation experiences. For example, drinking while relaxing on the beach is commonplace, while cruises feature an endless supply of food and drink. However, camping in a park that does not allow alcohol or planning a road trip where you select the stops gives you more control over the venue.


Be Honest with Family and Friends – Discuss your fears openly and honestly. Explain why you may not feel ready or what kind of support you will need in order to travel. Chances are your traveling companions have no frame of reference for what you are going through and simply didn’t realize how stressful taking a trip might be.

Try Going on a Sober Tour – This booming trend involves connecting you with others who want to maintain their sobriety while on vacation. There are tours available for just about every activity. Or you can hire a concierge to plan a sober itinerary for a specific destination you would like to visit.

Stay Connected – Keep in touch with your sober friends and support network. Checking in with someone each day will you give you the accountability that will help you stay sober. You can use whatever method of communication that feels comfortable, phone calls, text messages, email, Facebook, even postcards.

Don’t Take a Vacation From Meetings – Remember, twelve-step programs are pretty much the same everywhere, and meeting the locals opens up the opportunity to learn where all the best local sights and activities are. Continue to remain vigilant to symptoms of H.A.L.T. (Hungry, Anxious, Lonely, Tired) to avoid a relapse.

Treat Yourself – While each day you stay sober is a reward in and of itself, each day you stay sober while out of your comfort zone should be rewarded. Pick out an item or activity that will make you feel special, and indulge yourself for each day of sobriety.

Most important of all, keep in mind that you are not missing anything by not drinking or using. Instead, you are gaining an experience that you can fully enjoy and remember.

If you or your loved-one is struggling with Alcohol, you can talk to us about addiction treatment programs  at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs, call us today at (844) 494-4939.  The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective addiction treatment center in Southern California.

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