Commonly, we travel for pleasure, to meet up with family or friends in order to escape the routines of everyday life. Because of this, traveling usually also entails an element of celebration or, as we used to say, “merry-making.”

For anyone newly sober, this particular element of traveling isn’t always easy. Additionally, the unexpected obstacles that can happen while traveling can also make aspects of the trip challenging. But that doesn’t mean you need to spend the rest of your life locked up, deprived of fun and excitement.

It simply means that in order to maintain a sober lifestyle while traveling, you should have a plan in place to keep you accountable, as well as strategies to keep you mindful and prevent relapse. 

Tips for traveling sober

Have a talk with your travel buddies 

Before you even agree to a trip, know who your traveling companions are. Determine whether or not they’re good people to be around while traveling sober and have a talk with them about where you stand. Let one or all of them know your goals of sober living and traveling, and ask them to help keep you accountable during the trip. 

If you are planning the trip yourself, consider finding a travel buddy who is also sober. Traveling with a sober companion means spending time in bars and nightclubs won’t even be a discussion. It means your goals of sobriety are aligned and therefore won’t conflict as you make plans. It means steering clear of all temptations together.

Be intentional in your plans 

Planning ahead of time cannot be stressed enough. One of the biggest causes of stress on a trip is plans going all wrong, the unknown catching you off guard or expectations that haven’t been vocalized not being met. And for someone practicing sobriety, these inconveniences can be quite triggering. 

There are certain things you’ll want to plan ahead of time:

  • The location: Avoid certain destinations (like Vegas or New Orleans) where you know the culture is heavily influenced by substance use.
  • Your escape route: If things begin to get too challenging or triggering, have a plan. Where will you go temporarily? Will you practice soothing exercises in the moment? Will you go on a pre-planned walk with a friend until the trigger passes?
  • Where you are staying and how you will get there: Nothing is more stressful than feeling stranded in an airport or not knowing where you’re staying after a full day of travel. 
  • Activities: What sights will you see during the day and how will you keep busy during the evenings? What do people want to do on this trip?

Be prepared to have plans fall through. Even if you have the most immaculate itinerary, sometimes things just don’t work out. Be prepared for that, and you won’t feel quite so caught off guard when it happens. 

Manage your stress 

If you begin to feel anxious during your travels, it’s good to know what you’re going to do to handle it. There are a number of things you can do to ease your stress while traveling, including: 

  • Journaling
  • Reading 
  • Getting yourself a cup of tea
  • Going for a walk
  • Taking some deep, intentional breaths
  • Listening to music 

Whatever it is you need to do to minimize your stress, take the time to do it. The more stress you feel, the more likely you’ll feel temptation to cope with substances. So managing that stress in the moment is an important trick for success.

Stick to a routine 

Traveling is, more or less, an upset of your daily routine, but it doesn’t have to be entirely. Once you arrive at your destination, you can craft your own little vacation routine. Go for a walk on the beach in the morning, or take 30 minutes to read on the porch with your coffee. Try to plan to be home by a certain time every night for the sake of getting a good night’s sleep. Whatever you deem necessary, stick to it, for your peace of mind and spirit. 

Invest in exploration 

Try not to keep your mind hyper-fixed on sobriety the entirety of your trip. Having a plan in place will keep you out of temptation’s reach, allowing you to fully invest in your travels and explore the country around you. Plus, really becoming fully immersed in the new experiences will help relieve stress overall and allow you to return home refreshed and rejuvenated. 

Reward your successes

During your travels, acknowledge your successes and reward them. Treat yourself to ice cream on the boardwalk; purchase that souvenir or pay a little extra for a unique travel experience. While traveling sober can be hard, it doesn’t have to be! Just because you’re in recovery doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Give yourself permission to dive into your trip, don’t worry about the potential of stressful events and take every day as it comes. 

Sober living 

Traveling is just as much a part of sober living as any other aspect of a sober lifestyle. It’s not only possible, it’s necessary to a balanced and rejuvenating life. 

If you want to learn more about sober living, or begin your journey to sobriety today, contact Real Recovery. Call our offices at 855-363-7325 to learn more, or visit our website anytime.