When you enter into addiction treatment and recovery, it is perfectly normal to find yourself a little unsure of how to approach the different activities you engaged in when you were under the influence. For many people, vacation means a time to relax and let loose. But what if you are in recovery and letting loose used to mean also abusing substances?
If you are ready to take some time off and enjoy a vacation, but find yourself unsure how, you are not alone. Many people struggle to visualize having fun or relaxing outside of drug and alcohol use. Luckily, there are many ways you can enjoy sober vacations as a person in recovery.
Now that it’s summertime, here at Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery, we want to encourage individuals in recovery to engage in sober vacation practices. To learn more about how to enjoy sober vacations, keep reading.
Can You Truly Take a Sober Vacation?
Yes! When first entering recovery, it can sometimes seem like the only way to enjoy yourself is to rely on substances. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Sobriety brings with it freedom and opportunity for growth—and these can remain intact even when you’re on vacation. A vacation can even provide you with a new environment to practice your abstinence skills while enjoying some R&R.
If you are concerned that a sober vacation will be boring, that couldn’t be further from the truth. It is completely valid to struggle with the idea of a sober vacation when many people visualize themselves sitting by the hotel pool or beach with a drink, but that is not the only way to travel or relax.
Vacationing sober doesn’t mean a dull time. Instead, it means a different time than you’re used to. While you may think that not drinking or doing drugs is boring, it can be our vacation. Below, we will discuss the benefits of a sober vacation further.
The Benefits of a Sober Vacation
Traveling sober, for many people, is often synonymous with drinking in particular. However, abstaining from any kind of substance use while on vacation hosts several benefits. These benefits include:
When traveling, people often find themselves in a new place. By staying sober, you ensure your safety and the safety of those around you. Being intoxicated or under the influence during a vacation can put you at risk in many different ways.
Unfortunately, some people target tourists as easy prey for scams, pickpocketing, or robbery. Staying sober keeps you aware of your surroundings at all times. Furthermore, it allows you to make more sound decisions when it comes to where to go and what activities are safe.
When traveling, particularly in a new environment, the chance of relapse can be higher for people recovering from substance use. Not only is there the risk of exposure to places or people who partake in substance use, but there is also the challenge of managing emotions (stress, excitement, boredom) that you may encounter while away.
When vacationing sober, it’s much easier to recognize and address any triggers and cravings that may come up without having to worry about making a rash decision under the influence.
There are few worse feelings than waking up in the morning and hearing about all the trouble you got into while under the influence. Instead of spending a vacation hung over, you can spend it engaged in activities and making memories that you’ll remember—and don’t forget to take plenty of photos!
When abstaining from drugs and alcohol, your mind is much clearer so that you can appreciate the sights. For those who are traveling to a faraway place, this allows you to immerse yourself. Furthermore, traveling is not cheap. By remaining sober, you will get the most out of your vacation.
How to Have Fun On Sober Vacations
Just because you’re abstaining from substances doesn’t mean that your vacation has to be dull. Below are some tips to enjoy sober vacations:
- Align your destination with your interests: If you love the ocean, planning a boating excursion, snorkeling, or kayaking adventure is a great way to have fun without substances.
- Plan to visit friends or family: Spending time with those you love is one of the best ways to enjoy a vacation without alcohol or drugs.
- Find places with sober entertainment: Many cities now have drug and alcohol-free events that you can participate in. Research sober entertainment venues ahead of time so you know what’s available when you arrive at your destination.
- Invest in new hobbies: Vacations are a great time to try new things and explore different interests. Consider taking classes or attending workshops so that you can learn something new, make connections with like-minded people, and have fun.
- Adventure therapy: There is no better way to relax than by taking the time for some outdoor recreation or spending time in nature. Look for parks and botanical gardens.
- Visit local monuments: Visiting monuments and historical sites often offers a great chance to learn something new, take in some amazing architecture, and explore the local cultural offerings.
- Take a spa day: Taking time for yourself is important, especially while on vacation. Spending an afternoon at a spa can help you relax without the need for substances.
- Check out a museum: Museums are a great way to spend time without drugs or alcohol. You can learn about the culture and history of an area while having fun.
Tips for Traveling Sober
Now that you understand the benefits of sober vacations and how to have fun, you may still worry about how to have fun on one. To make the most of your sober vacation, here are some tips to keep in mind:
Planning can ensure that you stay away from areas or activities that may trigger cravings for substance use. Research and find activities that are enjoyable and do not involve alcohol or drugs. If it’s possible, try to connect with a local recovery community in the area you are visiting to get insider knowledge on how to stay sober while enjoying your travels.
You don’t have to deny yourself everything indulgent. Just because there is no alcohol or drugs doesn’t mean you can’t allow yourself something special. Whether it’s a fancy dinner, dessert at a cafe, or tickets to a show—allow yourself some special treats and experiences.
If you can bring someone with you who supports your sobriety, that could be helpful. Having someone along on vacation who understands your goals can not only provide companionship but also accountability. If you can’t bring someone with you, make sure to check in with your support back home.
Where Can You Go on a Sober Vacation?
Vacations don’t have to revolve around bars and nightclubs many places offer sober activities and entertainment. Consider the following destinations:
- National parks: Visit any of the United States national parks for some spectacular views and plenty of outdoor recreation (hiking, biking, kayaking, canoeing).
- Retreat centers: Look into retreat centers that offer yoga classes, meditation groups, and spiritual workshops—all without drugs or alcohol.
- Music festivals: Many music festivals offer a drug- and alcohol-free atmosphere. This is the perfect opportunity to enjoy some great music while having fun without drinking or using drugs.
- Beach towns: Small beach towns are usually filled with activities such as swimming, surfing, volleyball, and more—all without the need for substances.
- Camping trips: Spending time in nature can help you relax and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Plus, you don’t need alcohol or drugs to enjoy your time outdoors.
- Art galleries: Visiting art galleries can offer a great chance to explore the culture of a place while having fun without drugs or alcohol.
With a little imagination and some planning, it’s easy to make the most out of your sober vacation. Remember, you don’t need drugs or alcohol to have fun—just take advantage of what your destination has to offer and get creative with how you spend your time away.
Sober Vacations: A Fresh Start at Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery
Remember, vacationing sober doesn’t have to mean a boring time. You can still relax and enjoy yourself without relying on substances for fun or relaxation.
If you find yourself dreading the thought of spending time without substances, we can help. At Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery, we provide a safe and supportive environment that allows you to build a strong foundation for your recovery. Through our trauma-informed approach, we can help you create lasting changes and find new, healthy ways of having fun without drugs or alcohol.
Our programs offer the necessary tools to stay sober while on vacation as well as during everyday life. So if you or someone you love is struggling with substance use, please reach out—we can help. Take the first step towards a healthier and happier life by reaching out to Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery today. We’re here to provide the support needed for lasting recovery success.
Kendall Maloof is the clinical director at Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist and has held multiple leadership roles before settling here at Eagle Creek. Kendall received her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2016. Her career in mental and behavioral health began in 2014 when she took up internships in both the nonprofit and for profit sectors. She interned at multiple reputable companies, such as The Living Success Center and 449 Recovery in California.
In 2019, Kendall became the clinical director of Sunsets Recovery for Woman, a dual diagnosis program in southern California. Kendall is a natural leader. She has an incredible ability to problem solve and stay calm in any situation. Kendall never fails to show up when she is needed, and her calm demeanor makes her team and clients feel at ease. Eagle Creek Ranch Recovery is proud to have Kendall as our clinical director.