Making the choice to live a life of sobriety is a major accomplishment and reaching this stage of your recovery is worth celebrating. One way to celebrate is by taking a vacation or a break!
But sometimes life in recovery brings about unexpected challenges, especially without the right tools. Things you once enjoyed while under the influence, like traveling, may feel stranger now to navigate without them.
Whether you’re newly sober or you’ve been at this for a while, going on vacation while in recovery can overwhelming. Here are some tips you can use, however, to help keep you happy, healthy, and sober wherever your next adventure takes you.
1. Be Mindful of the Timing
It’s important to be aware of the timing of when you plan a vacation after you’ve been able to maintain a stable period in recovery. By all means, take a break, you deserve it! But remember that going on vacation may raise some unexpected struggles, obstacles, or stressors which can make the early days of recovery or maintaining your recovery even more challenging.
In order to ensure you have the best possible time, plan your vacation after you feel comfortable maintaining your recovery success. Once you’ve reached this level of comfort you will be better able to relax & have fun.
2. Plan Ahead
With that said, sometimes just anticipating what a trip will be like can cause anxiety and stress.
In order to mitigate some of these anxieties, prepare yourself by having a “toolbox” at hand. A toolbox can help you be prepared for potential adversity and triggers while also giving you the clearest view of what is to come on your trip.
- Pack a Toolbox
A toolbox is a pack of “tools” that help you get through challenging times. This pack can be your favorite recovery apps on your phone or tablet, a playlist of your favorite songs or music that motivates your sobriety, a gratitude journal or notebook to track your journey, and any other resources that help support your recovery.
Another great addition can be nutritional snacks and calming teas, like chamomile, for your carry-on or heating pads and warm blankets to soothe stressful moments.
- Research Your Destination
By choosing a vacation destination where you know there are activities that don’t revolve around alcohol or other drug use, you will already set yourself up for success. National parks, sober resorts on the beach, meditation retreats, and wellness trips are great places to start. Do your research beforehand to make sure you are starting off in the best possible environment for you.
- Mentally Prepare
Things may happen during your travel journey that you simply cannot prevent. It’s important to prepare for these potential challenges and triggers before your trip as well.
From delayed flights to unexpected hotel locations, there may be many last-minute changes that cause you to lean even more into the “adventure” than you planned. Preparing yourself mentally to take on these challenges can help mitigate the levels of stress or triggers that may come with stress. Just try to remember to breathe, take these surprises with a calm and positive attitude, and remember to bring your earplugs, pillow, and eye mask.
Communication is key. Travelling, much like successful relationships, requires clear and healthy communication. Whether you are traveling alone or with a group, it’s important to communicate with yourself and those around you regarding your needs. Make sure you are both honoring what you need to feel comfortable as well as communicating those needs to yourself, and others when necessary.
Sharing the importance of your sobriety with fellow travelers while you’re traveling can open the door for discussions on ways in which they can work to support you. Setting and communicating these boundaries before you leave can help manage potential triggers.
4. Stay Connected
Remember your support network. Remember that you’ve built a network of people while in recovery to help keep you on track. Be sure to use this foundation for your recovery whenever you feel you need to. Reach out to your resources and explore new ones, attend online support group meetings, message your sober friends back home, connect with other sober travelers or even post on your blog to feel connected to others.
There are lots of ways to fight those potential feelings of loneliness or homesickness when you’re away. The most important thing is to plan ahead by finding peer-support meetings in the area you’ll be visiting or even scheduling virtual therapy sessions. Having a game plan going into your trip will help keep you accountable and give you that extra boost of confidence while you enjoy your adventures!
5. Bonus Sober Travel Tip
In addition to all of the above, planning ahead and keeping a routine that is similar to the one you’ve developed during your sobriety can help immensely while on your travels. A normal routine can help keep you focused and on track when you’re trying to have a great time in an unfamiliar environment.
A Checklist for Your Routine
While going through your planning ahead prep, try sitting down and making an actual list of the things you might need to have with you to get through the day or even resist triggers.
For example, do you need your journal to write daily affirmations? Or is there a favorite tea you like to drink to get your morning started? Think of the healthy coping habits you’ve developed while you’ve been in recovery and make sure you have a plan on how to implement these on your trip.
Another trick is to go through your daily and nightly routines, in your mind, to understand the little things you might need but are easy to overlook in the rush of packing, like a toothbrush, your favorite soap, chargers for any electronics or a sleeping mask.
Finally, if you are traveling with any other type of disorder keep this in mind too. Bringing those extra items that you may need, like medication if you suffer from migraines, is worth the cost of checking a second bag at the airport.
If you are still looking for places to go, here are just a few sober vacation ideas to get you started:
- Meditation & Yoga Retreats
- Hiking and Camping
- Wellness Getaway
- Spa Vacation
- Sober Group Travel
- Nondrinking Destinations
Enjoying Yourself with the Right Support
Sobriety is not an easy path. Here at Riverside Recovery of Tampa, recovery is personal for us. Seventy-five percent of our staff has gone through the recovery process and have experienced firsthand what it feels like to walk this path.
It’s time to reward yourself for choosing life, and enjoy the journeys of self-discovery, being present in the moment, and enjoying everything this world has to offer. Let the next adventure begin!
If you or someone you know is struggling with their recovery, a substance abuse issue, or you just want to learn more about the recovery process at Riverside Recovery of Tampa, reach out to us today. Our admissions team is happy to answer any questions you may have. Text or call us today at (833) 875-7701.