One of the benefits of sobriety is that it gives you the ability to do many things that were not possible in your drinking days. When active in alcoholism, everything revolves around alcohol; all other activities are secondary. Also, drinking creates issues that prevent an active lifestyle, so a lot of things that were formerly enjoyable for you are no longer an option because they are physically impossible. You may find, for example, that you are often unable to travel as a result of your alcoholism.
However, once you get sober, you are perfectly capable of enjoying all the parts of life that alcoholism denied you, including the ability to travel. You likely need to travel for business and pleasure, but you might worry that traveling could be dangerous to your recovery because of all the potential triggers involved. The good news is that there is no need for concern about traveling when sober if you take some precautions. Below are six important things to remember.
1. Travel with Another Sober Person when Possible.
Traveling with a sober companion pretty much ensures that your trip will be safe. Although there are no guarantees, the risk of a slip is minimal when traveling with someone else that is also in recovery. Not all travel situations are appropriate for a sober companion, such as a business trip, or a family vacation. However, many travel occasions are not only safer with a sober friend, but more fun as well, like ski trips, fishing excursions, attending concerts or going to the beach.
2. Ask the Hotel to Remove the Mini-Bar from the Room.
The temptation of a hotel room mini-bar is sometimes too much for a sober person to contend with while traveling. Particularly when you are traveling alone, all those little bottles and cans of beer can look mighty good when you’re stuck in a hotel room. Before you arrive at your destination, call the hotel and ask them to remove the mini-bar. This request is not unusual, and the hotel will be happy to accommodate. Removing the mini-bar is not only safer for you but provides you with the satisfaction of knowing that you did the right thing.
3. Find Out where 12 Step Meetings are in the Area of the Destination.
Many people in recovery are involved in 12 step groups as support for sobriety. Fortunately, these groups are all over the world, and one is probably available where you are traveling. Attending 12 step groups while traveling not only helps with your sobriety, it gives you an opportunity to experience the nuances of recovery in different locations. There are always subtle differences between meetings in different parts of the country or the world, and these are interesting to explore.
4. Tell Your Host in Advance About the Change in Your Drinking Habits.
There is nothing wrong with telling your host ahead of time that you no longer drink. This admission is especially important if the person hosting you used to serve your drinks. Give them a call a couple of days in advance and explain your recovery to them, and they will be glad that you did. Acknowledging your alcoholism beforehand prevents a potentially awkward situation when you arrive, and they hand you a drink. Your host probably knew that you had a drinking problem anyway, so this admission will not upset them.
5. Stay Away from Events that Make You Uncomfortable.
If you are traveling to a wedding where you know that the reception afterward will be full of people becoming overly intoxicated, attend the wedding and skip the reception or only go for a little while. There is no good reason for being in a situation that is going to cause you to feel ill at ease because people are drinking aggressively. Likewise, if you are traveling to a big football game where a tailgate party takes place beforehand, don’t attend the tailgate party or go for the last half-hour. Showing up and telling people that you are running late is better than watching everyone get drunk for hours.
6. Call People in Recovery While You are Traveling.
Let your friends in recovery know when you are traveling and stay in touch with them throughout the trip. This strategy creates accountability because your friends will be expecting you to call and if you do not, they will worry. Also, there is therapeutic value in sharing whatever difficulty that you may experience during your trip with someone that understands. Your friends will appreciate the calls, and you can return the favor whenever possible.
Remember, if you feel like you are going to drink while traveling, do not travel. Nothing is more important than your sobriety, including travel. People that are new in recovery should be especially cautious when traveling. However, provided that you are confident in your ability to stay sober, and take the necessary precautions, you can enjoy traveling as much as anyone else.
If you need more information on alcohol addiction and how to get help, have a look at The Recovery Village.