Traveling Sober, what it’s all about.
Some of us are passionate about travel and when we get sober we have the option to make living life to its fullest potential a priority and we get to go see what is really out there in the world. To me, being sober has to propel me forward into the opportunities and places I want to go. In my opinion if our sobriety holds us back then it is nothing better than active alcoholism and addiction. That being said, we have to work hard to be able to take the option of drinking or using off the table and we have to be smart when traveling sober. We have to know ourselves and our limits and we have to have a plan. Traveling can be stressful and challenging at times and traveling sober can be downright crazy and miserable if you are not in the right frame of mind and most importantly, if you are not being honest with yourself.
Are you some kind of sobriety expert?
Nope. I am just a guy who was a drug addict and alcoholic who was physically dying and spiritually dead at the age of 24. I managed change my circumstances and through the help of Alcoholics Anonymous I got clean and sober and have managed to stay that way for the last 10 years. I have also remained relatively level-headed, sober, and have had a good time while out on the road so I want to share my experience, strength and hope with you all so that you may have the most pleasant experience possible if you choose to indulge your wanderlust. In my experience so much of life comes down to mindset and decisions. We have to be in a healthy state of mind, especially when abstaining from drugs and alcohol, to embark on an adventure and step out of our comfort zone. We have to make a decision deep down in our core that the option of drinking and using drugs is off the table. It just does not exist for us anymore. I was able to accomplish this by doing the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, going to meetings, and following the suggestions of people who got sober before me. I have been shown repeatedly that in order to keep what we have we have to give it away. In respect for this I want to share what works for me when I travel and hopefully it benefits you or you can pass it along to someone you care about.
TRAVELING SOBER: My top 7 SURVIVAL TIPS.
1. Have a support system —
This may seem like an obvious one and that is why it is #1 on the list. Even if you are traveling alone you need to have someone who you can reach out to if you need to and some one who helps you maintain a connection to your sobriety. This can be a friend in the program, a sponsor, or your spouse. I would say the only “rule” is that you call them, or talk to them every day even if you do not need to. I had a sponsor that I used to have to call every morning, he would very rarely pick up but I had to leave a message and go over a checklist of any fears or resentments, as well as a couple of things I was grateful for. It is a great way top stay aware of how you are feeling as well as shine a light on what is awesome in your life. Do not put this one off until you need it, then it will likely be too late.
2. Be open and be honest about your situation if you are with a group —
This is more for work or family trips but it can go for any kind of trip you are on. Tell the people around you that you do not drink. Don’t make a big thing of it just let them know so it is not an issue. We go on a couple of work trips each year and every one we are with cuts loose and there is booze at all of the dinners. Before we go we tell the person in charge that we don’t drink. They make sure to have non alcoholic options available everywhere we go. We are also honest with the people we are with. We tell the we do not drink and it is not really an issue. Sometimes they ask questions but mostly they do not. There are a lot of people who do not drink for a variety of reasons and I think as addicts and alcoholics we have a way of making things a really big deal when simply saying,”no thank you, I don’t drink” would suffice. If you are honest up front then you will take a whole lot of stress and temptation off of yourself during your trip.
3. There are likely meetings wherever you are. Look before you go —
I have provided the links for the world AA website and the world NA website. You can literally find meetings wherever you go. There are also likely local sites for the specific city you are going to so check them out. BEFORE HAND. You can even give the local office a call and tell them you are coming into town and want to know of a meeting close to where you are saying. The point is, there is probably a meeting where you are going so make a plan to go! Get some fellowship in and meet some locals. You may even make some new sober friends.
4. Watch your surroundings and know your comfort level —
So you’re newly sober, or not so new but still uncomfortable in social drinking situations and you get invited to a bachelor (or bachelorette) party in Las Vegas… What you are thinking as you read this should tell you if you should go or not. Were you excited about it? Were you dreading it? How did it make you feel? Me personally, I would not g. Not because I think I would drink, but because I do not think it would be fun. It is simply not something I am into at this point in my life. I even missed my brother’s bachelor weekend in Vegas and I was his best man. It is not a situation I need to be in. Instead of going to Vegas with everyone I took him to dinner at a later date. We have to be honest about where we are going, why we are going, and what’s going to be happening there. It is your responsibility to stay sober. It is not the responsibility of the party’s host, not the guests, not your boss, not your coworkers, not your spouse, it is your responsibility. This does not mean that you should go nowhere and do nothing. Just the opposite actually, you should go everywhere and do everything. You simply need to take an honest look at your motivations for going and watch how you feel when you’re there. When Amy and I go to parties we generally leave when people start getting drunk because it ceases to be fun of us. We don’t judge how others spend their time or how they behave we just know what we like and where we are comfortable. So be honest with yourself and if you want to go, then go, but when you feel like it is time to leave then it is definitely time to go.
5. Do something for yourself and your sobriety every day–
When you are at home do you have a morning or evening routine? Do you do a 10th step or spend some time writing in a journal or start the day off with meditation or affirmations? I would encourage you to keep doing it when you are traveling. If you do not do anything to consciously start your day on the right foot I really suggest starting something. Spending some time in the morning doing some personal development, meditation, and/or journaling helps ensure that you have a focused and positive mindset going into your day. It is amazing how huge an impact just taking 20 minutes to an hour to listen to a podcast or watch a video, do some meditation and do a gratitude list can have on your day. When you are in the occasional high stress situation of traveling sober it is important to make sobriety your priority. Using some time in your day to build a little insurance against the inevitable small frustrations that pop up as you adventure along will go a long way towards staying sober and having a positive travel experience. I have included a couple of resources for you to check out for your morning routine. The first is Against the Stream/Dharma Punx audio. Noah Levine and his book Dharma Punx saved my life and gave me hope when I got sober and his Dharma Talks are a staple in my life today. Just click the link, click the audio tab, sort by teacher and check out Noah Levine. All the others are good too but I prefer Noah. I also included the link to Tony Robbins’ website. There is a lot to read and watch on it so it is easy to find something to kick you day off right. The last link is to a 6 minute miracle morning link that will give you a quick and easy process for setting up a great morning routine.
6. If you’re in your head you’re dead.
One of the people who I consider a mentor, Tony Robbins, says that people are unhappy because they are obsessed with themselves. They are obsessed with how everything impacts them, how people are viewing them, and what everything means for them. I would make the argument that alcoholism and addiction is a disease of self obsession. I know that when I first got sober all I could think about was myself. Even today, when I find myself getting restless, irritable, and discontent it is due to being too self involved. If you go to meetings you know the cure to this, if you do not I will tell you, do something for someone else with no strings attached and preferably without them knowing it was you. Go donate some time, speak at a treatment center, go to a detox, help out a homeless person, call the central office of the area and see if anyone needs a 12 step call, go to a retirement home and ask if there is someone who does not get visitors who would like to have someone to talk to, or go to a meeting. The opportunities are endless for us to get out of ourselves. Life is better this way. Self obsession leads to loneliness and self sabotage. So if you are indulging your monkey mind a little too much go do something for someone else immediately. It does not have to be a grand gesture, you can go buy a sandwich and some chips and bottled water at the grocery store and drop it off to a homeless person. This is a surefire way to cure yourself of the blues and when you are traveling sober it is important to be able to focus on the positive and be in gratitude.
7. Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember that it is all small stuff! —
Maintaining your sobriety is serious business. I have lost a lot of friends to the disease of addiction so I know that it is literally life or death. This does not mean that everything in your life is life or death. Life is there to be enjoyed and the constant pressure to stay sober and not slip can be enough to make you want to slip! So, remember that you got sober to make your life better. You are fortunate enough to be traveling sober, even it is for work, and you have already done the hardest thing, YOU STOPPED DRINKING AND/OR USING! Enjoy yourself. You are a sober, contributing member of society and you do not drink or use. The option no longer exists for you. If this is a struggle then just relax, make a plan, and stick to your routine. Do something positive for yourself and others and go to a meeting. Remember that you regained the power of choice and that you will exercise it to put your sobriety at the forefront of your life. Enjoy the moment and live your life. Live free and be an example of what is possible. After, we are all about attraction rather than promotion, so go attract people with your light.