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3 Tips for Those in Recovery on How to Plan a Sober Vacation

June 22, 2017

Being in recovery can provide you with its fair share of stressful moments, and there aren’t too many ways to reduce stress that are much better than taking a vacation. Planning a sober vacation (likely for the first time ever) can come with its own set of challenges, however. Here are some tips for making sure your vacation meshes with your recovery efforts.

Beware of the alcohol-themed resort

There’s no country in the world that’s off-limits to you if you’re confidently strong in your recovery, but there are some housing situations that you probably want to avoid.

A popular vacation idea is to book a stay at a resort. In a way, this can be good for those in recovery as it provides a more structured vacation than simply traveling somewhere and winging it. Resorts often offer multitudes of activities to keep you occupied in a healthy way. But you do have to watch out for resorts that are centered on drinking.

“Look online, ask friends who have stayed there or a travel agent. Make sure the resort isn’t geared to an alcohol-centric atmosphere. Usually if it is, their marketing will make it easy to spot. You’ll see things like 24/7 bars, ads for booze parties etc. In general, the alcohol will be among the primary marketing points,” notes the SoberJulie blog.

Stay connected to friends and family

There’s something to be said for strength in numbers, and this applies to those in recovery who are venturing out of their comfort zones for the first time in a while. For some in recovery, it may be a good idea to bring a trusted friend or family member along.

For those looking to travel solo, you can still stay connected to those who are able to give you support. “In contrast to past vacations, stay connected. Do NOT cut yourself off from your daily life. Unlike your drinking days when you’d turn off your phone the minute you knocked back your first drink, stay in touch with your sober friends. Let them know that you are traveling and ask them to help keep you in touch through phone calls, text messages and email,” suggests

Avoid relapse triggers while on vacation

Those in recovery learn to think about their triggers through the HALT method (more on that here), and this is something you should make sure to focus on when on vacation. HALT describes four common triggers for those in recovery - hunger, anger, loneliness, and tiredness. When it comes to vacation, it makes sense to add an “S” to the mix - stress. Vacation stress is different that other types of stress in your life. While you’ve learned how to deal with stress you’re familiar with, being in a different place can bring a whole new level of stress that you’re simply not used to managing. To read more about combating vacation-related stress, check out the tips provided here.

Go on your vacation armed with some stress-busting techniques specific to being away from home. Practice a mantra (maybe one of these) that you can repeat in stressful situations. Reach out to a friend or sponsor if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Learn to focus on your breathing.

“To minimize stress, plan ahead as much as possible and then adopt a ‘go with the flow’ attitude that helps you take any unexpected frustrations in stride. If you need a few minutes to wind down, use portable stress management techniques like meditation, yoga or reading,” says

Though taking a sober vacation while in recovery can seem scary, it’s totally possible to have a safe, relaxing, stimulating, and rewarding time outside your comfort zone. As long as you stay connected to your purpose and come prepared with ways to deal with stress, you will do just fine.

Written by: Michelle Peterson

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