Before my first sober vacation, I was stressed out, nervous and my feet were sweating (it’s a personal problem). It was a combination of so many things but the main source of the feet sweat was, I had zero frame of reference. My brain literally had nothing to pull from about what a non drinking vacation would be like because I had never had one as an adult. Besides pregnancy, when is the last time you had a vacation where you consumed zero alcohol? I truly couldn’t think of mine.
We give alcohol so much more credit than it deserves. Vacation alcohol has conditioned us to believe it is the source of all relaxation and fun. Short answer, it’s not. Long answer read this. Alcohol doesn’t relax you, it numbs you out, not the same thing…not even close. Alcohol doesn’t make you more fun, it makes you think you are more fun. You were fun before alcohol and you will be fun after (or maybe not, not everyone is fun and that is totally fine, but you probably aren’t fun with alcohol either). Don’t sell yourself short, you can laugh until you pee your pants completely sober. I’ve done it. It makes my heart hurt to say this, but it took me a little while to be fun sober because I was scared and tired and couldn’t totally remember what my personality was when I wasn’t drinking. It all came back to me, but better because I had missed myself and I didn’t even know it.
10 Sober Travel Tips:
- Make your decision before you leave home. The wishy washy, maybe I will, maybe I won’t, maybe I will only have one drink at the fancy dinner we have planned etc etc is the worst. Your brain doesn’t have the capacity to deal with your indecisiveness. Literally, we have a finite amount of willpower per day. If you are negotiating with yourself all day every day, you are using more brain space than you have to give. (also, haven’t we tried these negotiation tactics a million times already)
- Accept that it might be hard. I’m not saying MISERABLE, but I’d be lying if I said it was a piece of cake until it becomes your new norm. Just like your first sober date, your first sober movie, your first sober yoga class 😉, your first sober book club or business meeting or family dinner or whatever you do all day, it’s hard. It’s hard because we are trying to create an entirely new pattern, wash over all of our old habits and ingrained memories and overlay them with better shiny ones. It is walking into a room that you have walked into a million times that someone completely rearranged with new furniture, and while you love it, you aren’t quite sure where to sit.
- Visualization. Before leaving and/or while on vacation, take 5-10 mins a day to practice your day in you head. Get as specific as you can, it doesn’t matter if your day doesn’t play out exactly the same, practicing teaches your brain new patterns before you even have to make the choices. What are you wearing? What does the weather feel like? How is your hair fixed? What perfume/cologne do you have on? Take yourself on a trip over your entire day. What is for breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? What are you doing? Who are you with? What are you ordering? What is the conversation like? If you are traveling with people that don’t know you don’t drink, what is your response if they ask? What does your body feel like when you are tired? How do you respond? It sounds like this would take a long time, but it really doesn’t it. It is setting yourself up for success and giving your brain practice before it has to perform. The same way athletes practice their race or game in their head, your life is your game time (#nofear, remember those “no fear” t-shirts?!). PS Visualization is an excellent tool for life in general, not just not drinking life.
- Plan ahead. Use the interwebs. Before you leave home, look up restaurants you already have reservations for and see if they have any non alcoholic drink choices (lots of places do now!) research a fun new non alcoholic drink that will be your vacation go to, look up ingredients that you can have in your hotel room to make drinks in your room before you go out. But have a plan. Have an answer ready when the waiter asks you for your drink order.
- Try something new. Doing the exact same beach vacation you have done for the last 5 years while drinking isn’t going be the same now. That’s okay! If you can’t go somewhere new, plan new fresh activities, go to new restaurants, just don’t try to recreate the same vacation sober that you loved drinking.
- Stick to your routine as much as possible. If you meditate every morning, keep it up. If you know you need to sweat everyday, figure that out. If you have an online group you check in with, check in! I get on vacation things aren’t the same, but you know your things you need to stick to. I take my running shoes on every vacation, sometimes I skip a run or two, sometimes I run everyday but it’s my “have to”. PS you will get to a point that you can let your routine go and I am not saying be completely rigid but we all have our routines in life that we need to stay sane
- Have a different special treat. Order dessert every night, get fancy coffee drinks, buy a new vacation lipstick… I personally LOVE a candy store (shout out to Lolli and Pops) and always have, but I don’t keep candy in my house because I eat it ALL. I find a candy store, stock up on all my favorites that I never eat and keep it in the hotel room. It’s fun, it’s yummy, and it feels special.
- Reward yourself at the end with all the $$$ you save. Sit down before you leave and calculate how much you would spend on vacation drinking. PS It’s probably a lot more than you think… Add in tip and tax on any drinks ordered at a restaurant or bar, add in mini bar charges at the hotel, store bought booze for your room, airport or airplane drinks etc etc… THEN put that money aside before you leave and use it on a splurge when you get back. It is fun to have a goal in mind and something to work towards getting.
- Have an escape plan. The joy in not drinking is that you get to create a life that you love so much you no longer want to numb any of it out. That being said, at the beginning and/or on your first vacation, you might have a some moments that you need to GET OUT. If there are moments that are too hard or out of your comfort zone, it is okay to take a break. Go back to your room, take a bath, go on a walk alone, have a movie night in the hotel. It is more than okay to not be able to do it all. It is okay to not WANT to do it all. It is okay to want to be done when everyone you are traveling with passes the point of fun drinking and turns to obnoxious drinking. I promise, needing to escape does not make you Debbie Downer. It makes you honest. There are so many moments I have thought, “Oh, I wasn’t drinking because I was having so much fun, I was drinking because I don’t like this situation or PERSON ;).”
- You are responsible for you. (and your little people if you are a parent) This goes for all types of trips: family vacation, work trip, girls weekend, bachelor party, couples trip…. Sobriety does not mean you become the driver, the child entertainer, the organizer, the late night kitchen cleaner, the taking care of the drunk people person, or the responsible one. I know control freaks, it’s hard to leave dinner plates in the sink. Grab your drink, join the others on the patio and then go to bed. Take care of you first.
- (that’s right, I didn’t stop at 10, numbers aren’t the boss of me) No is a complete sentence. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. You are a bad ass. No permission needed.
Now go in peace, do God’s missions, take a lover or two, sit in a hot tub not drinking champagne and give the middle finger to all the advertisers that told you champagne in a hot tub was the only possible way to be sexy when it really just makes you sweaty, lightheaded and have to pee.