Sober on Holiday
The Sober Journey

Surviving Sober Holidays

I am writing this on a trip to Rome, it is my third holiday since I quit alcohol. I was really anxious before my first sober holiday, every trip before had been soaked in red wine and I always made sure I had a good supply and that wine would be available where we would be staying.

I even remember having my case searched by security at Dubai airport, they weren’t impressed when they pulled out a box of red wine, although they did let me keep it! This just summed up my addiction, I was so worried about not getting wine I had to take it with me, just imagine if we couldn’t find any on the first night, I would be a complete mess!

When my teenage son and I went to Tokyo at the start of 2018 the first thing I did when I had dumped our luggage in the apartment was find a shop to stock up on wine – how come it took my so long to realise I had a problem with this poison!

Sober Holidays Tokyo

In Tokyo – Before I was sober

Sober holidays can feel like a challenge, holidays are seen as a time to let your hair down, relax and of course drink. In fact most people see it as an opportunity to drink way more than they would at home. I often see people drinking beer and wine before midday on holiday and it makes me wonder if they have a problem themselves. I never drank in the day, but made up for it as soon as the sun went down.

If you have recently stopped drinking and have a holiday coming up you need to decide if you should drink or not, there is no point suffering and torturing yourself, you could make the last night of the holiday your last drink ever and then start on your sober journey. Obviously the best option would be to stay sober, but you do have this as an option if you feel you won’t cope at such an early stage in sobriety.

If you are a few months into the journey there is every chance you are strong enough to enjoy a holiday sober and will probably have a better time than if you were drinking.

As with everything sober, it is all about your mindset. You need to feel that you ‘don’t want’ a drink, not that you ‘can’t have’ one, with this approach it is so much easier.

Below are the main challenges I have found while travelling, my advice is to keep your guard up and have a great time away:

  1. Getting offered after dinner free drinks and shots in restaurants – a polite ‘no thanks’ does the trick, if you need more of an excuse have a look at my other post about the best way to tell people you don’t drink.
  2. Your travel companions are drinking – you need to be clear and tell them you aren’t drinking, again, have a look at my other post if you need help approaching this.
  3. Everyone, everywhere is drinking – good for them, you’re not and you should be proud about being different, embrace the sober-life and enjoy your freedom. No holiday hangovers, amazing!
  4. Lack of decent alcohol-free drinks – depending on your destination depends on what the supply is like, most European countries and the USA have a good supply of alcohol free beer, juices, tonics and things to mix with it. I found the Caribbean lacking in anything decent, although after a few days of searching in Barbados I found a drink called Kola Tonic which was amazing mixed with Ginger Ale.
  5. You keep thinking about drinking instead of enjoying yourself – forget it, you don’t drink now. Just let the thoughts pass and get on with enjoying your holiday. You don’t need alcohol in your life and it certainly won’t make you have a better holiday.

Sober on Holiday

Alcohol free cocktail on Virgin Atlantic

Kola Tonic - Sober Holidays

Kola Tonic – Great with Ginger Ale

There is no doubt that the first sober holiday presents a challenge but you can overcome it and have a great time on holiday, try and embrace it and you will be surprised how much more you will enjoy yourself.

After you have given up alcohol you are so much more present, in the moment and aware of what is going on around you it is difficult not to have a fantastic time.

So I have holidays cracked – but I have yet to attend my first sober wedding, I am looking forward to the challenge. Once I have danced to YMCA and sober I know I will be truly free!

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