Today's guest post comes from Henry Moore of FitWellTraveler.
Travelling during your addiction recovery can be challenging but rewarding, giving you a wider perspective than you experienced during your addiction, and many rehabilitation centres encourage travel during the early stages of recovery from substance abuse. According to one Goalcast author who healed through travel, “I went from being the only important person in my life during my days of addiction to someone who realised that I was just a tiny, virtually minuscule part of this world. Talk about taking the pressure off.”
If you think a getaway could help you heal, consider these tips on staying sober away from home and getting the most from your travels.
Get Some Perspective
While visiting other areas and cultures can broaden your perspective on life - and its challenges - be mindful about when and where you plan to vacation while maintaining your sobriety. Obviously you’ll want to avoid Napa Valley wine tours, Germany in October, Daytona Beach during spring break, and possibly even countries where wine is served without prompting, the way restaurants set out water glasses for customers here. Instead, focus on planning activities and outings and set up some night-life fun that doesn’t involve getting hammered.
Travelling For Self-Discovery
Take some time during your travels to reflect on where you’ve been, where you are, and where you see yourself in the future. Many of those who overcome addiction feel that they’ve been given the opportunity to rebuild their life for the better. Ask yourself what you’d like to change, what you want to continue, and how you eventually want to spend your days.
You may also choose to keep a travel journal during your journey. While you might mention any particularly hard won triumphs over temptation, your journal needn’t focus on your sobriety. Record your thoughts, insights, and interesting cultural facts you learn. You may also choose to note exceptional meals, interesting people, and favorite places. To add some visual flair, pick up inexpensive postcards during your trip to tape into your journal’s pages.
The Freedom To Travel
You probably spent months (possibly years) putting off your travel plans or planning around your substance abuse. Places you’d liked to visit were bypassed if they didn’t serve alcohol or fit into your lifestyle. And while substance abuse may have severely limited your travel options in the past, it is now easier than ever to plan a sober getaway with the help of a number of substance-free travel organizations. If you’re planning to use a travel agent, consider contacting Sober Vacations International, Clean Getaway Travel, or Travel Sober to see what packages they have available.
Being away from home will help you avoid the people and places that can trigger temptation but travelling alone can create the feeling of being cut off from your support system in times of crisis. To keep your temptation in check while you’re away, Psychology Today suggests using technology to stay connected. “It’s unnerving to be suddenly un-tethered from your usual support networks, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take support with you,” writes psychiatrist David Mack on Psychology Today. “Apps, many of them free, can be downloaded that offer inspirational messages of encouragement, daily reflections, and tips for staying sober.”
Healing On The Go
There are a number of other steps you can take to ensure a healthy vacation, whether you go alone or with friends or family. Call ahead to your hotel and request that the mini-bar be cleared of any alcoholic beverages. Research high-crime areas that may translate into the availability of drugs and avoid them during your trip. Make any wait staff that serves you aware of your alcohol-free preferences. Refrain from wandering the city at night without a clear destination and avoid areas known for its ‘nightlife’.
While temptation is bound to follow you no matter where you travel, experiencing new places, people, and cultures can broaden your mind and put your addiction in perspective. Traveling solo can also build your confidence, something that is paramount to abstaining in the future and will serve you well in building a new substance-free life.
Henry is the co-creator of FitWellTraveler. The site blends two of his favorite subjects (travel and health) to provide readers with information about how to get the most out of both. He enjoys travel, running, cooking, baking and reading. He believes travel can change you, and good health preserves you. He combines both in his work on FitWellTraveler.