Taking Vacations in Recovery
Taking a vacation in recovery can be an interesting experience. If you’re accustomed to traveling while using or drinking, you can have a completely new experience. However, you may be presented with completely new challenges. I recently spent some time in Mexico in the beautiful Riviera Maya, chilling on the pristine sand of Xpu Ha Beach, and living it up in the crystal clear waters. Although I had a wonderful time, I noticed new perspectives on recovery during my travels. Some experiences were good and exciting, while others were challenging and presented new situations.
As with anything in life, there can be upsides and downsides. Traveling can be a beautiful experience sober. We get to see the world in a new way, with clear eyes. We have time without drugs and alcohol to investigate, adventure, and experience life. On the other hand, traveling can create a kink in our normal routine and schedule. We go without meetings, may not have our support group, and may be presented with cultures that encourage drinking (especially for tourists). Here are a few thoughts about my experience traveling in Mexico.
One of the best parts about traveling sober is the ability to be present for the experience. While traveling through the Riviera Maya, we were able to swim in beautiful freshwater cenotes, snorkel in the tropical reefs, and hang out on the beach. Without drugs and alcohol, we were energized, awake, and present through the whole experience. I see the people drinking during the day, sleeping in the afternoon, and repeating the cycle. Although I understand that way of living as I used to do it myself, I’m grateful to have the energy to really be there for each experience.
Another plus side to traveling sober is the ability to have new experiences. When I was using, everything was somewhat the same. I drank, used, slept, and repeated. You can do this on a tropical beach, in your bedroom, or wherever. Without drugs and alcohol in my life, I can experience new things while traveling. The free time created from not drinking or using can be used to explore, visit new places, and look at the world with a new pair of glasses. Not drinking seems like a way to find freedom when I travel. I’m not stuck in the same old loop I usually am. My vacation is more freeing, allows me space to be myself, and doesn’t keep me in the same cycle I’m usually stuck in.
The Challenges of Traveling
Traveling sober isn’t without its challenges. One of the big challenges I noticed was the change in my regular schedule. Although there were twelve-step meetings in Playa del Carmen where we were staying, it wasn’t the same. I have my recovery schedule and routine back home. I talk to my sponsor, work with sponsees, go to my regular meetings, etc. Traveling can take this away a bit, reducing the sense of stability I’m used to in my recovery. It’s not the end of the world. We just have to find a way to remain grounded and stable in our recovery.
The other thing I noticed in Mexico is that the tourism industry centers heavily around the drinking and nightlife. Everywhere you go, people are trying to sell you beer and tequila. Although I’m not super tempted these days by the offers, it can be grating. Over and over, I was offered free tastes of alcohol. If you’re new to recovery or you aren’t firm in your sobriety, this can be even more challenging. At the very least, it’s annoying to have alcohol thrown in your face repeatedly.