How to Travel, Stay Sober, and Support Your Recovery

Holidays can be a great way to refresh and relax. However, for people recovering from alcoholism and addiction, triggers on holiday can easily cause a slip. Given that staying sober can be the difference between life and death, it is vital to know how to benefit from vacations safely when in recovery. In this post, brightview health offers 10 tips to help you benefit from travel, stay sober, and improve your recovery.

10 Tips to Support Your Recovery when Traveling

When planning to travel whilst in recovery it is important to carefully consider your trip. As relaxing as a holiday can be, traveling itself can be stressful and challenging on numerous levels. Here, we outline some top tips and steps to take to help prevent problems arising. They can be useful whether something unexpected happens or not.

    1. Start Small

If you are planning your first trip since you’ve been in recovery, don’t aim too big. The important thing is to test the water a bit here and know that it is easy to get back to a safe place if things don’t go as planned. Start small with just one night away and build things up gradually.

   2. Plan things ahead

If you book a holiday in a hotel, there is a good chance you may be faced with temptation in the form of a mini-bar. However, knowing this, you can remove this temptation in advance. Give the hotel a ring and explain the situation and they will be happy to clear this obstacle for you. Are there any other obstacles you might face? Try to prepare for them in advance.

    3. Prepare a coping strategy

It is important not to wait until you are in crisis mode before trying to implement a coping strategy. Before heading on your trip, be sure to write down different coping strategies you can use to help prevent a relapse.

    4. Look up local support groups

It is important to know when support meetings will be happening wherever it is you plan to travel. The author of From Addiction to Recovery: A Therapist’s Personal Journey” notes that it is a good idea to do this as soon as possible. It sets the tone for how you want the trip to go and ensures you know there is support when you need it.

     5. Choose your setting carefully

It is a good idea to book a holiday somewhere healthy. This is not always easy if traveling with others. However, if you do have complete say over where you are going, why not choose a hotel spa, Ayurvedic treatment center, or even a yoga resort. If the holiday is health-focused there will naturally be less temptation on offer.

      6. Socialize carefully and safely

Whilst socializing is important, it is vital to do this without putting ourselves in situations that challenge us too much when we are in recovery. If you feel worried about where a social event is happening, don’t let social norms pressurize you into going. 

If you do go out to dinner, make sure you have plans in place to avoid people offering you temptation (even by accident). Having a topped up glass of sparkly water on hand at all times is a great way to do this – no one needs to know it is just water either.

     7. Stay aware of your needs & emotions

Try to stay in touch with how you are feeling physically and emotionally. If you feel angry, how long was it since you last ate? If you are feeling tired, should you try and do everything you had planned? If you are feeling lonely, can you speak to someone or go to a local support meeting? All these factors are common triggers so it is important we stay aware of how we are feeling when we are away.

     8.  Distract yourself

Whatever it is that distracts you, be it books, video, or iPad games, let yourself enjoy it. You’re on holiday and need to relax. Being able to easily distract yourself can also help you when triggers are pushing you towards actions that might lead to a relapse.

     9. Stay in touch

If you have a sponsor or someone else supporting you at home, it is a good idea to stay in touch with them whilst you are away. Let them know where you are going and encourage them to check in on you. This external support can be beneficial when facing a relapse.

     10. Always be ready to seek help

If you still find yourself close to relapse even after you’ve taken these steps don’t worry, seek help. Whether it is that support group you’ve been to on your first day, an exercise on your recovery plan, or a call to your sponsor, make sure to get in touch with them when you feel a crisis approaching.

Everyone is different to some degree. However, with the tips above, everyone can be equipped with useful tools to help them when they need it most. Keep these tips in mind and you will feel more at ease planning a holiday whilst in recovery.