Staying Sober On Vacation: Really?
Ahhh, vacation. The very idea provokes thought of lounging poolside, Mai Tai in hand.
Let’s not forget wild nights in Cabo during Spring Break in college.
Or perhaps an all-inclusive resort with an open bar is more your speed.
Since quitting alcohol, I’ve gone on a 10-day trip and can add an additional accomplishment to my growing list — staying sober on vacation!
Initially, I was a bit scared about my first time traveling without drinking.
I’ve never done it before, and early sobriety can be challenging.
In the end, I was pleasantly surprised at how much fun I had, and highly recommend it for these 7 reasons your next vacation should probably be a sober one.
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1. Travel Issues Become Less Annoying
Traveling long distances always comes with little complications. Staying sober on vacation really helps make those irritating circumstances seem so insignificant. You can see the bigger picture, instead.
For example, though we arrived at the airport two hours early, the security line was super long. We made it to our gate just three minutes before departure.
Instead of being pissed to the high heavens, I shrugged it off completely. I was like “meh… we’ll just take the next flight if we must… no big deal”. This is not the way of an agitated drinker waiting for her next fix.
It was incredibly refreshing to go through an entire vacation with a fresh perspective and positive new attitude!
Wouldn’t you like to breeze through those inevitable travel snags without issue?
2. You Might Lose Weight
On every trip, I pack my running shoes (these are cute and comfy as heck), workout clothes and only choose hotels that have fitness centers. Not once have I ever worked out on vacation, however.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t travel for leisure with the expectation of dieting or going hard in the gym. Ideally, though, I’d like to maintain at least some level of consideration for my body. This time I used the fitness center many times!
Being clear-headed instead of hungover also enabled me to make better food choices. I also intentionally put extra activity into my day. Instead of exclusively lounging in the pool I’d add in some aggressive laps, for example.
Isn’t the thought of returning with a tighter body worth staying sober on vacation?
3. You Realize How Normalized Excessive Drinking Really Is
I understand liquor and vacation are pretty much synonymous. But that doesn’t change how shocking it is to realize just how much people talk about alcohol when sobriety is on your mind.
Before we’d even reached our final destination on day one, four people suggested we’d be drinking buckets of alcohol!
It was really weird. Particularly of note was one guy who said he worked for the cruise line we were traveling on. He excitedly described how the drink packages work. He explained that we’d each be allowed one alcoholic beverage every 15 minutes. However, should one of us choose not to grab our drink for that 15 minutes, the other could take the second drink instead. Score!
As the trip went on, such discussions continued. I must admit that in the past I’d have been excited about this — so no judgment from me! Considering how much my quality of life has improved since I quit drinking, I frown a bit upon lost memories and experiences from choosing to drink so heavily on past vacations.
Also, I wonder why such a thing is not only common but encouraged and expected to such a degree.
4. You Relax By Choice, Not By Force
What kind of vacationer are you? Some people enjoy high-adrenaline vacations full of wild and crazy physical activities. For others, relaxing by the pool or getting pampered at the spa sounds more like it. I more closely relate to the latter.
I’ve had some vacations that involved activities like zip lining and snorkeling, but I also spent copious amounts of time resting on those same trips.
Admittedly, this was partially related to being so exhausted from the slightest little thing — something that I now see had more to do with the effects of alcohol than it did with me actually being tired.
Choosing to remain sober on vacation, relaxing was just more relaxing! The absence of lethargy that comes with even the slightest hangover meant most of my lounging took place outside in soothing, picturesque settings. During drinking journeys, my “relaxing” was more like sleeping in late and laying in the hotel bed until I felt well enough to throw myself together sometime after breakfast had already been served, without me.
5. You Actually Look Great In Pictures
You know how drinking makes you feel all bubbly, amped up and sometimes hot? Or is that just me?
So many times on drinking vacations I’d hit the karaoke bar or the dance floor just knowing I was looking bomb. Then I’d see the photos later on and cringe. If I’ve been drinking, no matter how good I think I look, I never do!
I look radiant, happy and healthy. Nothing cringeworthy about them. These are the types of memories I enjoy reflecting upon later in life. All the credit goes to staying sober on vacation!
6. Jet Lag Is Less Of A Thing
Usually, jet lag has me completely wiped, but not so much this time! We skipped forward 3 time zones, which isn’t terribly much. But it’s the kind of thing to where if I’m recovering from the effects of drinking too much alcohol, my body notices.
I’m naturally an early riser, and on any random day, I’m up by 6 am. 6:30 at the latest.
Waking up at 9 am on vacation, 3 hours ahead, is like 6 am in the first couple days. On drinking trips, there’s absolutely no way I’m up that early. But since I chose to stay sober on this trip, I effortlessly rose at 7 am daily, got to the gym, went outside, and enjoyed the first few hours of each day!
I can totally see how that may not appeal to some — I frequently hear rising early is one of the things many prefer to avoid. But it’s one of the things I enjoy most.
Wouldn’t it be nice to avoid jet lag? Stay sober on vacation and you just might!
7. You Delight In The Small Things
Finally, I was delighted by my ability to take pleasure in the tiniest things. Being fully present in every moment is truly something to cherish.
That kind of thing just doesn’t come for me, when drinking.
For example, one early morning I took my toddler outside to a grassy knoll adjacent to our hotel and experienced immense joy at the way the sunlight hit the dew on the flowers as he jubilantly laughed in the background. Like, really? Really.
So simple, but just so stunning. And honestly, so important.
Part of going on vacation, in my opinion, is to take a mental and physical break from the trappings of daily life that keep us from enjoying the small things.
When you’re driving to work in heavy traffic, feeding and cleaning up after your family, or worrying about paying the bills, you don’t have time to notice the sunlight and dew on the rose petals.
When I’m hungover, even on vacation, I still can’t see it.
In the end, choosing to stay sober was choosing to lift the veil that obstructed my view of life’s tiny little pleasures for so long.
Now that I can see, that view is too breathtaking to be smothered by the fog of inebriation.