The thought of taking a vacation in early recovery can feel both exciting and daunting. Travel inherently disrupts your daily routine, and many people associate this time with indulgence and relaxation.
Staying sober while traveling allows you to embrace the present moment and take in the entire experience. With that in mind, preparation is critical. Here are some crucial tips to consider before you start packing.
Consider the Location and Itinerary
Let's be honest. You can drink or use drugs anywhere. That said, specific places and types of vacations make it easier to slip up than others.
For instance, it may not be the best idea to attend Mardi Gras or a tropical island on spring break a year into your recovery. You might also want to reconsider attending stereotypically "alcohol-based" events like bachelor or bachelorette parties.
When choosing a location, think of somewhere that inspires you and promotes a sense of adventure and wonder. When planning, draft an itinerary that keeps you reasonably busy. It helps to have balance. You want to have activities throughout the day, but you don't want to be so jam-packed that you don't feel like you have a minute to deviate off-schedule.
Stay Connected to Your Support
Before you pack your bags, consider the main people you can connect with if you need help. These people may include friends from your support groups, recovery peers, roommates, or trusted family members. Ideally, you should appoint 1-2 people that you know you can call 24/7.
Check-in regularly, even if things are going well. This accountability helps remind you of the importance of your sobriety. It also lets loved ones know that you're doing okay.
Tap Into Local Support
No matter where you visit, there's probably a local recovery scene, whether it's via meetings or sober events. Consider looking into these options before you travel and make a tentative itinerary for checking into some of them if needed.
If local support isn't feasible, you can also try online recovery tools, such as:
24/7 live chat options
videoconferencing with a therapist, life coach, or sponsor
It's important to research these tools in advance. Write a list down and pack it in your bag. If you're in a rough spot, it helps to know that help is just a few clicks away.
Travel With Sober Friends
Your travel companions can make or break your vacation. If you go with people who enjoy partying (even if they don't struggle with addiction), their decisions may challenge your resolve. Even if you don't participate, you might feel resentful or lonely, and that's no way to spend a vacation!
The opposite can also be true. If you travel with friends who also value sobriety, you'll be spending time with people who can inspire, motivate, and challenge you to stay accountable to your goals.
Do you want to make new sober friends? Consider traveling with a sober tour group.
Although it's impossible to remove every trigger, you don't need to add excess stress to your sobriety. For example, it might be worth calling the hotel and asking them to remove the alcohol from the minibar ahead of time. Or, you might avoid attending local parties or festivals that trigger you to drink or use.
At this point, you should have a solid understanding of your triggers. Think about them ahead of time and identify which ones you believe could emerge.
Then, make an action plan for how you intend to handle them should they arise. Reach out to your therapist, sponsor, or life coach if you need assistance with coping skills.
Tie in Your Recovery Work
Even though vacation changes your usual routine, it's essential to ground yourself with some predictability. Having this structure can help you stay on track.
For example, if you usually meditate for a few minutes after waking up, continue doing that. If you journal before bed, pack your journal. You might even find that you enjoy these activities more when you're away from your usual schedule.
Modify or Delay Your Plans if Needed
Traveling is undoubtedly wonderful, but it might not be the right time if you're acutely struggling in your recovery. A vacation shouldn't be an excuse to escape from your daily responsibilities. It should be a chance for recharging and exploring.
Remember that it's essential to prioritize your sobriety first. If you have ongoing concerns about relapsing on vacation, you may need to modify your plans. The world isn't going anywhere, but you need to be in the right state of mind to enjoy it.
Final Thoughts on Staying Sober While Traveling
Sobriety can open the whole world to you! It's time to experience it fully!
At The Resurface Group, we believe that recovery can be an exciting and fulfilling process. We know it's possible to commit to staying sober while traveling- or while doing anything else! Contact us today to learn more about our approach.