Vacations can bring new temptations for people in recovery. Proper planning and these 5 tips can help you stay sober while traveling.

Remaining in healthy recovery can be challenging even within your normal routine. Travel can make maintaining recovery even more difficult. You can enjoy travel while protecting your sobriety and developing your coping skills further.

While travel does present temptations that everyday life may not, it also offers an unparalleled opportunity to strengthen your addiction recovery and discover how far you have come. Here are five strategies for staying sober while traveling.

1. Understand Your Triggers and Plan How to Cope

Stress is one of the most common relapse triggers and travel is a uniquely stressful situation. In addition to the excitement, you may have to cope with different languages and customs, plus the unique environment of the airport and flying. Know what your strongest triggers are and plan ways to react should you encounter them.

For example, if you see a bustling airport bar, you could choose to take a brisk walk through the terminal or buy a cold soda from a kiosk instead. Many airlines only accept credit cards as payment for drinks, so it may be wise to have your travel partner hold onto yours while you are on the plane. Thinking ahead is an excellent way to make sure you are ready to handle triggers in a healthy way.

2. Carry Your Support Network with You

Is your sponsor on speed dial? They should be. In fact, you should discuss your travel plans with your sponsor beforehand. Today, several great mobile apps are available to help you find meetings at your destination. Navigation apps will ensure you know how to get there on foot, by car, or using public transport. There are even apps that steer you away from places where the nightlife may be too much of a temptation. Sober Grid is a social network for people in addiction recovery, and since it is fully mobile, it can go wherever you go.

3. Take Care of the Fundamentals: Food, Rest and Physical Activity

It is easy to overdo it while traveling. After all, who knows when you will have another chance to visit your destination? It is still important to prioritize. Don’t try to do everything people recommend when you go somewhere new. Schedule your activities after you are sure your basic needs of reasonably healthy and regular meals, sufficient rest and physical activity are taken care of. You may not be able to enjoy the sights if you are tired or hungry, and triggers are harder to resist when you are physically run down.

4. Have Minibar Temptation Removed Beforehand

Is there a minibar in your hotel room? You can call ahead and find out and, if so, you can ask to be put in a room without one or ask that all the items be removed from it before you check in. Hotel managers are accustomed to this and they understand, so do not be timid about asking.

5. Choose Destinations and Activities Wisely

Some destinations are going to present more triggers than others. People with gambling addiction, for example, might want to choose someplace other than Atlantic City or Vegas if they have a choice.

Wherever you travel, of course, you may be tempted to jeopardize your recovery, so it will be important to carefully choose activities. If your hotel offers a nightly happy hour, knowing this in advance is often enough to help you stay away or find another activity to occupy you during that time. Museums, hikes and tours can be enjoyable alternatives. You can also try local non-alcoholic beverages that you can only get at your destination, like Ting in the Caribbean, Club-Mate in Germany or Bicerin in Italy.

If you attend a 12-step meeting while traveling, you may be able to ask people there about fun activities that will not compromise your addiction recovery. Sober vacation planners and tours are also available if you want help removing temptations.

Travel presents unique challenges, but if you plan, choose the right traveling companions and keep your sobriety network close at hand, you can have a wonderful time without triggering a relapse. Learn to travel while maintaining your sobriety and you develop yet another healthy living skill that you can practice as you continue in recovery.

If you have questions about sobriety, addiction recovery, or other aspects of substance abuse disorders, feel free to contact us at any time.

Melissa Carmona
Editor – Melissa Carmona
As the content manager at Advanced Recovery Systems, Melissa Carmona puts years of writing and editing experience to work helping people understand substance abuse, addiction and mental health disorders. Read more
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The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.