I told myself that I’d never be able to go on vacation sober. Why would I even want to? I wanted to party and relax by the pool with a cocktail in my hand.
I stayed drunk for so many years because I couldn’t envision my life without having a drink. As with so many things in my life, I couldn’t imagine a trip to Florida, relaxing on a beach, having fun in the sun, sober. Vacations were all about the drink.
I told myself that I’d never be able to go on vacation sober. Why would I even want to? I wanted to party and relax by the pool with a cocktail in my hand. I made vacations about the drink, packing a cooler, sitting on a beach all day in the hot sun drinking. I’d go to sleep at night and start over again the next day.
I always found a reason not to stop. My cousin is getting married next month; I can’t go and not drink. My best friend is having a huge birthday party; I can’t go and not drink. I even blamed the Super Bowl as a reason to continue drinking — and I don’t even like football! It didn’t matter how big or small the excuse, I always talked myself into that next drink.
The day after I received my one-year sobriety coin, my boyfriend and I flew to Key West, Florida on a vacation. I went a little terrified, knowing I had to learn how to vacation differently. I was very careful during the planning stages of our trip, paying attention to details to protect us from as many “triggers” as possible.
We have gone on vacation every year since; in fact, we’re leaving in a few days. I take my tools for recovery with me and use them if or when I need them. Even though we both have a few years of sobriety under our belts, we still vacation smart.
In the past I made it a point to travel with a big group of people to drink with. But this time there were only the two of us. We chose a hotel that did not have a poolside tiki bar. This made it possible for us to bring our own drinks to the pool and not be tempted by all the fruity cocktails. We picked a hotel that did not have a nightclub on the premises. We had dinner in places where food, not alcohol, was the main course. Restaurants with bright settings, instead of dark musty-smelling bars.
We both had our first big full belly laugh without a buzz on. We rented a SeaDoo, went out in the ocean, hit the waves, and caught some air. It felt so good to laugh like that. It gave us a high — sober. It confirmed that we could have fun again.
We said to each other, “Hey, no one would know if we had a drink,” because we were so far away from anyone that would know us. Then we’d laugh at ourselves, because we both knew we wouldn’t stop at one drink; that we’d waste the rest of the trip, drunk. If we didn’t have that first drink, we would not need a second one. We finished the trip sober, filled with confidence to vacation again.
We have gone on vacation every year since; in fact, we’re leaving in a few days. I take my tools for recovery with me and use them if or when I need them. Even though we both have a few years of sobriety under our belts, we still vacation smart. We stay, eat and play in places where drinking is not the main focus. I thank God that I found out the fun didn’t stop when I sobered up.