6 Ways To Have A Blast On Your Vacation When You're Sober

Our mindset is to relax, enjoy, and be more carefree, which can make staying sober tricky.
04/04/2017 10:19 am ET Updated Apr 05, 2017
Jocelyn via Flickr Creative Commons

Vacation is often a time to let loose and indulge ourselves. Our mindset is to relax, enjoy, and be more carefree, which can make staying sober tricky.

If we associate whatever we were addicted to as something pleasurable (which is often what happens in our brains), then we need to figure out new ways of finding pleasure when we’re relaxing.

Fortunately, this isn’t just doable, but it makes things even better when done right! There are a ton of ways to stay sober and have a ton of fun while you’re on vacation. Here are six ways to do just that:

1. Look for creative, non-alcoholic beverage spots.

The fact is, drinking alcohol is a large part of a lot of cultures ― and it can seem like it dominates vacation culture. But it’s not the only thing people drink, and it’s worth doing a little exploration to find the other ones.

A cool example: local teahouses. Some places have really cool traditional teahouses that are steeped in the culture (see what I did there?). Every teahouse usually has someone to explain traditional facts about the teas of that culture, what they mean, what benefits they have, etc. You can also do afternoon tea like the English, and have lots of creative desserts with your tea.

If tea isn’t your thing, check out the local coffee shops, smoothie places, or juice bars. Whatever your jam is, do a little research on the area. There’s usually at least one of these places that is really cool wherever you are.

2. Splurge a little.

It’s pretty likely that you spent a lot of money on your addiction. Maybe it was buying bars, or cigarettes, or going out drinking. Now that you’re sober, of course you don’t want to go hog wild and spend all your money, but it’s OK to take some of that money and invest it in yourself.

Especially on vacation, splurge on something that makes you happy! Treat yourself to a mani/pedi, or a massage, or a full-on spa day with a mud bath or hot stones or a seaweed wrap. Depending on where you’re traveling to, some places have 24-hour spas (to feel like a real baller, get a massage in an airport on a layover… it’s a luxurious way to start your vacay).

Other ideas for splurge activities: paintball, laser tag, SCUBA lessons, surf lessons, horseback riding on the beach (or a trail), buying yourself a really cool and unique wooden statue and shipping it home (can’t store that in your pack).

Make yourself feel special. You deserve it.

3. Do weird stuff.

It’s always fun to check out the well-known museums, monuments, etc. of the place you’re traveling to. But, this one is really fun: Google “weird things to do” and the place you’re vacationing.

For instance, if you are going to Hawaii, among a variety of weird options, you could check out Teddy Bear World ― the only museum in North America with 200 animatronic bears in a 20,000-square-foot museum.

Headed to Buenos Aires? There’s something called Puerta Cerrada (closed door) restaurants that are held in private homes. Check it out ― you can attend a small dinner party that’s invite-only.

If you are going to Ireland, you can actually Airbnb in a real castle. There are also extremely cool ghost walks in a lot of places on the Emerald Isle.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask locals for their “must sees” and do them! Make sure to tell them you’re looking for something outside the norm. They’ll often have really creative alternatives you would never have heard about otherwise.

4. Do outdoor activities.

One big advantage of being sober: You tend to have more energy because you’re never hungover! So lucky you, you’ll get to do a ton more outdoor activities.

There are usually loads of outdoor activities to do when you’re traveling, like hiking, biking, surfing, skiing, etc. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, hit up things like bungee jumping, mountain climbing, hang-gliding, white water rafting, etc. There’s nothing like an adrenaline rush when you’re on vacation.

Finally an easy way to explore the most epic outdoor places where you’re going is to check out the national parks of that region. In New Mexico, you can check out the sand dunes. In New Zealand, you can check out the geothermal pools. In Costa Rica, you can try to get a glimpse of the elusive quetzal bird in the Manuel Antonio national park.

5. Do creative things at night.

Not drinking doesn’t mean you have to give up nightlife activities. If anything, it just means you get to be even more creative with them. Enjoy improv nights, murder mystery shows, comedy clubs or Shakespeare playhouses.

Also look for (and ask about) creative nighttime outdoor activities like night tubing or night kayaking. The nature you see at night is completely different from daytime, and the hushed sounds of the night can make everything even more special.

6. Eat!

Enjoying food while you’re on vacation is at the top of everyone’s list! You can decide to immerse yourself and eat the traditional foods of the place you’re visiting. Or go to one really nice meal and make sure to dress up.

Since drinks are usually fairly expensive, perhaps now you can finally enjoy an appetizer, meal and dessert. Whatever you decide, remember this is your vacation, so deeply enjoy the food around you. Slow down, take a breath, take a real look at what you’re eating, and enjoy it. Treat yourself well when it comes to food on your vacation now that you can fully remember and savor all the tastes.

While these tips are all helpful, if you’re concerned about staying sober on your vacation and you haven’t gotten treatment yet, consider doing so. Addiction isn’t something to think you can handle yourself. If you or someone you love needs help, use places like Rehab.com to look for support (it has the most comprehensive listing of rehab facilities in the U.S. and Canada).

There are lots of ways to explore. Get out there!

CONVERSATIONS