“No man needs a vacation so much as the man who has just had one.”
– Elbert Hubbard, U.S. writer, artist and philosopher
Summer is approaching. Rapidly.
Before you know it, it’ll be time to pack your passport, your coconut oil, and those fluorescent shorts you brought in anticipation of the coming vacation (well, they seemed like a really good idea at the time). Yes, your yearly vacation is just around the corner. You should be excited, desperate to feel that warm sand between your toes… but you’re worried.
You’re recently clean and sober, a permanent and extremely strict abstention from the demon liquor, and you need some guidance as to how to stay that way at a time when you were once the first to the beachside bar, the first to try the local “merry-berry” juice, and the last person up the following morning to do it all over again, with just a little more sunburn on your shoulders.
First off – you can do this. Take it from one who knows.
Having finally made it to an alcohol rehab that would really work for me this time, and being told in no uncertain terms by the leading clinician that “You’ll never make it the next time, so you better make sure you don’t give ‘next time’ the opportunity to get you,” remaining abstinent from alcohol become priority number one. I guess it’ll be that way – priority number one – for pretty much the rest of my life, bar my wife and kids. I’m no good to them drunk.
I remember that first trip, that first proper get-on-a-plane vacation. Man, I was just so scared.
Fortunately, I’d fessed up and told the others who made their way like me to a local hall twice a week (and on Saturdays, if you needed it) to share their alcoholic memories and their new alcohol-free lives just exactly how scared I was. It’s their guidance, gleaned by sharing experiences at our AA meetings, and professional advice too, that I wish to share with you here.
Lastly, remember, you can do this. Here goes:
Gen Up Your Travel Mates
Before you even embark upon your well-earned vacation, consider this… Wouldn’t it be a darn-sight easier if the people you’re traveling with know your exact circumstances, and respect your
decision to no longer drink? So, before you leave the house, travel holdall in hand, let them know. You’ll be surprised – they are the ones that may be feeling a little embarrassed. It certainly saves you from any unnecessary judging looks while you’re away.
Chances are, the people you’re hopping on a plane with are either family or friends (or a mixture of those), so, if they don’t know, you are sure of a ready acceptance from all. Seriously, you may be hesitant about letting people know you’re now abstinent, but, believe me, it’s for the best – especially if you’re off on vacation when people tend to do stuff they wouldn’t do at home.
Get a Drink in Your Hand (Really)
Get a grip, people, please. I’m obviously not talking about an alcoholic one… However, by ensuring you always have a cool, fizzy drink in your hand (and I always carry a bottle of water, too), you won’t feel out of place when surrounded by people who also have a drink in their hand – just not the brand you can allow yourself. If you can, actually plan this modus operandi in advance (like packing a water bottle) – all the better. For this vacation, that’s how you roll.
We all have different personalities, and, for the non-drinker going away, it pays to know yours, and to make adjustments for it. If you’re a little bit introverted (and that’s cool, because so am I), plan a little time each day away from the group. Take the time to just be by yourself, and be the thoughtful person you normally are. What you’re doing here is escaping that full-on social environment that you don’t want “full-on.”
If you’re a little extroverted, try to plan some time with fellow non-drinkers, either in your group, or a social setting where you can meet new people. An example of this is to take a little solo adventure, where you’ll meet other people, either fellow travelers or the local people. Just consider the need to remain alcohol-free in whatever situation presents itself.
Line Up Sober Activities
If you can, try to line up some activities that are not centered around drinking, ie. water-based sports, hiking tours, horse-riding, that sort of thing. So many times before, my vacations were just one long day in the bar, with nothing to alter that self-imposed schedule. My advice? Do some rescheduling for yourself to include what you would like to do – a particular activity you wish to try, for example.
You’re Different Now – So Be Different Now
Abstaining from alcohol, to many people in recovery, for example, feels like a loss, a social limb that’s been cut away from them. Not a good idea… Having a positive mindset about everything necessary for your sobriety is vital to its success. Personally, I look upon my sobriety (over 8 years now) as my one and only second chance. I’ll not get another, so I care for it and I protect it. When you look at abstinence like that, you are prepared for any sacrifices you have to make.
By following these “4 Ways to Stay 100% Sober & Still Have Fun in the Holiday Sun,” you too can truly enjoy your vacation, come home feeling refreshed and relaxed, and you’ll look forward to the next trip away with a lot less trepidation than this one.
● Gen Up Your Travel Mates
● Get a Drink in Your Hand (Really)
● Be Yourself, and
● Line Up Sober Activities
What experiences do you have of sober vacations? What did you find to be the most helpful thing in staying sober while away? Please, do some sharing of your own and leave a comment below for other readers – thanks! One last thing… Are you really going to wear that hat?!!!