It’s that time of year where airports are erupting with crowds, interstates are jam-packed with traffic, and headaches are as contagious as the common cold. If you’re sober, or new to sobriety, the holidays can be tricky to navigate, and traveling can be even more challenging. This time of year should be happy, cozy, and full of joy. However, it is common and widely unspoken among many to feel stress, especially when traveling. I’ve noticed that a lot of people are prone to relapse during the end of the year. It is common for people to relapse under times of stress, and for most alcoholics and addicts, stress can make you feel like you are out of control. Relapse for alcoholics and addicts can mean life and death. If you’re traveling out of state or even just traveling to down the road, don’t let the stress get to you. Make sure to take things one step at a time and check out this list that we’ve put together for you to manage traveling while sober.
Pack Your Support Network
Leaving your friends and supports behind for awhile can be unsettling. Luckily, in this day and age we have smartphones and devices to make it seem like we actually never left. Skipping town doesn’t mean that your sobriety should be on the back-burner. Have friends or a sponsor on speed-dial to keep you accountable and help you with unexpected twists and turns of friends and family who could be drinking.
Expect There To Be Alcohol
It is completely impossible for you to avoid the presence of alcohol at all costs. If you need to avoid it, do it. However, as things are considered as “party places,” one of the most important things I’ve learned in my sobriety is that each and every place can be a “sober place.” It is up to the person, and not the place. Sure, there are places where drinking habits escalated and memories may be associated with them. Don’t let the fear drive you from not experiencing something. You will be okay, so long as you are spiritually fit and have the tools you need under your belt.
Well, you booked your flight in advance to make sure you have a seat, right? So, why haven’t you planned out what your sobriety is going to look like on this trip? Find a meeting when you get where you’re going. Have some literature with you to read. Make sure your trip is as long as you can handle. Often, when family is involved some of us end up finding out that our trip was way too long. By the end we want to wring our own necks. Remember, just because we have changed doesn’t mean our families have. Have an escape plan. Understand your triggers, and know who you can turn to when you need help.
Stick With The Basics
Remember all those slogans and cliches you hear in recovery that you can’t get out of your head? These are about to come into use. Think through the consequences about what would happen if you picked up a drink or a drug. Spend time meditating and reflecting on your day or your trip so far. Did you do the best you could? What can you do better? You can do this anywhere. Bring a journal with you. It may be helpful to jot a couple of things down while you are waiting for a flight or even in the car to clear your head. Remind yourself that recovery happens one day at a time.
Don’t Be Afraid To Say No
When I was a couple of months sober, I took a trip home to see some family and friends. None of them are in recovery and like to party and drink. They asked me to join them and although it wasn’t easy, I had to say no. There just wasn’t a good reason to go, and the atmosphere wasn’t sober-friendly. Choose not to participate in something that will jeopardize your sobriety, and remember the only explanation that you have to give is “no thank you.”
Staying sober while traveling can be difficult at first, so don’t go unless you feel ready. However, once you succeed you will feel great about yourself. Over time things will get easier, and you will find you are more capable that you actually thought you were. Keep your humor, because like any trip, things are sure to go wrong. (Just as long as you didn’t relapse). Traveling sober, you remember everything and are able to use your time more wisely. Be present, enjoy yourself, and remember to have a great time!