You have completed your detox, gotten through the worst of the Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) and now you are thinking “I need a vacation.” Great idea! Just like every other part of your recovery plan, this needs to be carefully thought out and planned.

Some Tips:

1. Travel Partners — Whether it be a spouse, partner or friend, they need to be people who are aware of your sober status and supportive of your recovery.

2. Locations — There are companies that specialize in sober travel and cruises. Some vacations ideas that tend to not have alcohol involved are yoga or meditation retreats.

3. Minimize stress — Inevitably something will happen to derail your plans&mdashl;lost luggage, weather-related delays, etc. All you can do is plan the trip as carefully as you can and, if the unexpected occurs, try to maintain a positive attitude.

Don’t assume that anything that goes wrong is your fault. If something goes awry, do what you can to remedy the situation and accept that the rest is out of your control. Take deep breaths, close your eyes, and focus on trying to deal with things as gently and positively as you can.

4. Local Resources — For those in 12 Step recovery and other peer support groups, there are meetings worldwide. You can research and download the meeting options in advance in case you are in need. Print out a copy so it is always at the ready.

5. Transportation — Airports, airplanes, and trains are a big trigger for many people when it comes to alcohol. Recognizing this as a trigger will help. Enlist your travel partner or other friends and if you are triggered reach out. Some people “bookend” and identify a person who they can text or call when they arrive at the airport, walk past a bar, get on the airplane and then once they arrive at their destination.

6. Hotels — Did you know you can call ahead and ask the hotel to make your room alcohol free? They will remove the minibar in advance of your arrival&mdashlno questions asked.

7. Take care of yourself — eat as well as you can, drink lots of water, exercise and move your body, take a break when you need to. Self-care doesn’t need a vacation. Stick to your routine as much as possible.

8. Use technology — There are thousands of resources at your fingertips through your phone. Sober meeting apps, podcasts, Facebook groups, meditation apps, sober tracking apps. Research and get them on your phone before you leave.

Just like everything else, sober travel will be new territory. There will be challenges but the more you think about this in advance, enlist help from others, and plan ahead, the more you are putting your recovery first, where it needs to be. You just may find that this will be the best vacation you have ever had not dealing with the after-effects of substances and appreciating the beauty before you.

Have fun!

You have worked extremely hard to get to this point.

Safe travels!

Deborah Reich, MD


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