Traveling while recovering from alcohol use disorder (AUD) can be a good or bad thing, depending on how much you’ve progressed through recovery.
On one hand, traveling and experiencing new things can help brain growth, which may be essential for helping recovery from AUD. On the other, traveling may cause stress and expose you to a lot of drinking triggers.
Thankfully, this is a dilemma that thousands of people recovering from AUD have already overcome. Below are some ideas on how you could stay sober while traveling. If you’re recovering from an AUD or just finished a rehab program, please make sure to check in with your therapist or counselor before traveling. Get in touch with our team at Dallas Drug Treatment Centers for a comprehensive list of alcohol rehabs in Dallas.
1.) Choose your destination carefully
Sometimes you can’t choose where you need to go, especially if you’re traveling for business or an important family occasion. But if you do have a choice, you should consider avoiding party destinations or tourist traps known for serving alcohol. You can prioritize nature trips, historical tours, and other sober attractions to further minimize the odds of a relapse.2.) Set expectations with your travel companionsIt’s important to be honest and open with people you’re traveling with so that they can help rather than hinder your recovery. You should be upfront about your desire to stay sober throughout the trip, especially if the people you’re traveling with enjoy drinking. By setting expectations early, they might be more considerate and less inclined to pressure you into drinking.
3.) Plan to avoid stress and boredom
Travel stress and boredom can be major triggers for alcohol consumption, which is probably almost every airport in the world has a bar. While not necessarily a problem for most people, the ubiquity of alcohol at airport terminals and roadside rest stops can be a major problem for those recovering from AUD.
While you may not be able to completely remove stress from the basic traveling experience, you could at least minimize the odds of bad things happening. Make sure to take a few days to carefully plan and set your itinerary. That way, you can ensure that you’re not taking any unnecessary risks and are neither too bored nor anxious, which can do a lot to minimize your cravings.
4.) Call your hotel about the minibar
Make sure to call your hotels ahead of time and arrange to have the minibar emptied of any alcoholic drinks before you get there. That can help ensure that you won’t be tempted to fall off the wagon almost as soon as you get to your hotel room.
5.) Schedule a virtual support group meeting
If you’re still in the early part of your recovery, it may be difficult for you to stay sober without the help of your regular support group. Unfortunately, these groups can’t always be found everywhere, especially in many overseas destinations. Thanks to modern technology, you can now easily do virtual meetups with you can try to join one of the many hundreds of virtual AUD support groups to tide you over. Check out this listing of virtual AA groups for US residents to get an idea of how the process works.
6.) Look for support groups at your destination
If you’re traveling within North America, odds are really good that you will be able to find AUD support groups at virtually every destination. If your itinerary allows for it, try to join local sessions wherever your travels take you. You might be surprised at how many fresh perspectives you’ll find, even if you only went a few towns over.
7.) Take a journal and a nice camera with you
Journaling and taking pictures is a good way to make good use of any downtime you have when you’re traveling. Recording your thoughts and emotions as well as things that interest you can help you contextualize your recovery, which can help with understanding your own long-term motivations.
Thankfully, most phones today have a decent camera and a voice memo function, so you don’t really need to take anything extra with you. However, you may still want to have a regular notebook as your journal, since having a separate thing for this specific purpose may help you better focus on your mental health and recovery, compared to using your phone.
Traveling when you’re still recovering from an AUD presents a unique set of challenges, exposing you to triggers and temptations that you would have avoided if you stayed home. While not advisable for people with severe AUD, taking a trip can be an excellent way to get more confidence if you’re a bit further along in your recovery.
In any case, make sure to get in touch with your therapist before traveling if you’re still recovering from an AUD. If you’re headed for Dallas, our team at Dallas Drug Treatment Centers can get you in touch with support groups and programs all over North Texas. Stay safe, and stay sober!