Taking vacation is something that many people look forward to. It’s a time to get away from it all. relax, and restore your mind and body from the daily stress of work, family, and just life in general.
While most people look forward to a vacation with feelings of excitement, those of us who are in recovery may actually dread vacations for various reasons. You may be wondering how you’ll get through the challenges posed by taking a vacation, whether it be exposure to alcohol, having to be around people who drink heavily, or traveling with family members or others who don’t support your recovery.
The stresses associated with traveling can also become triggers, leading someone who is new to recovery or otherwise vulnerable to a relapse.
It may seem like avoiding traveling altogether is a good solution to dealing with the stress and dread, but sooner or later you will have to face the challenges of traveling in recovery. There are also times when traveling is necessary, whether it be for work or family obligations. Everyone deserves a vacation from time to time, so it simply wouldn’t be right to continue to deprive yourself of one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Preparing yourself for the challenges that traveling throws your way will ensure that you survive the trip, and that you can enjoy the time away from home along with everyone else. It’s possible to do all of this without risking your sobriety. These tips for traveling during recovery can help with the first trip, and will give you the skills to handle future travel plans as well.
1. Communicate with family, friends, and other travel companions.
You shouldn’t hide or undermine the importance of your recovery when traveling with others. Remind them about how important your sobriety is and that you want to do everything you can to preserve it during the trip. If this means withdrawing from certain activities or changing plans, than so be it. Certain locations, activities, or traditions may be triggers for you that you’re not quite ready to handle.
2. Stay connected to your support network.
Sometimes part of a vacation is disconnecting from your life at home, but in this case you will want to stay connected to your sober support network while on the road. This could mean using email, texting, or regular phone calls to talk to your sponsor or reach out to sober friends back home. This will help you feel connected, supported, and focused throughout the duration of the trip.
3. Plan accordingly.
For a trip where you know there will be a lot of down time for drinking, or where travel companions will be making time to hit up bars, happy hours, or tastings, plan ahead so you’ll have something else to do to stay occupied. New activities that interest you can be scheduled into the trip, so you don’t have time to feel bored or left out of the fun.
4. Attend meetings.
Some of us stay connected to recovery by regularly attending meetings. The good news for those of us who have this habit is that these 12 step meetings take place worldwide, so there is a good chance one is taking place near your vacation spot.
5. Take care of yourself.
Pay special attention to the way you feel while traveling. Feelings of fatigue, anxiety, loneliness, or hunger are all possible triggers, so learn how to recognize them and do something to take care of yourself. Call a friend, go to a meeting, make sure you eat healthy and have enough alone time to organize your thoughts and recharge.