May 21, 2012

Tips for trips without slips

Vacations are rife with temptations. Here’s how to stay on top of your sobriety so you can travel with confidence.

By Kelsey Allen

Life after treatment is hard. Every day there are temptations. And when you want to take a vacation with family and friends, temptations and triggers seem to lurk around every corner. No one knows this better than Suzy Davis. Davis spent 14 years working as a flight attendant and tour operator and has traveled to 160 countries. She has been sober since 2003 and understands how travel can cause “stinking thinking,” cravings or worse.

Davis once operated a trip for 50 people to Australia. Because she booked a flight for such a large group, the airline upgraded her ticket to first class. “The wine was flowing, and the flight attendant asked me what I would like to drink,” Davis recalls. “Tears ran down my face, and I said ginger ale. But I really wanted that wine.”

Later that evening, after dinner at a restaurant where alcohol continued to flow freely, Davis went into her room to unpack. Instead, she found the minibar. “I picked up the vodka and picked up the phone and called Sydney AA,” Davis says. When a man answered on the other line, he told Davis to put the vodka back, have the hotel remove the minibar, say a prayer and go to a meeting. “The next morning I went to an AA meeting,” Davis says, “and it was joyous. I needed someone to tell me what to do. It strengthened me from that point on.”

Now, along with her husband, Davis runs Sober Travel Adventures and helps others travel with confidence.

7 Travel Tips

Have a firm foundation. If you have an urge to still drink or use and you are very new to recovery, you’re not ready to go, says Suzy Davis of Sober Travel Adventures. Recovery needs to have a firm foundation before an individual is ready to explore the world.

Don’t isolate yourself. “This is what addicts tend to do,” Davis says. Instead, bring a sober friend, connect with the group you are traveling with or with the locals.

Bring a book. You may not always have access to a computer, a phone or even your sponsor. Bring a book or magazine that will fit in your carry-on and provide you with daily reflections. “It is like a meeting in print,” Davis says. “Even if I am so busy or tired, I still read.”











Go to meetings. Meetings are all over the world. If you can’t find a meeting, create one. “It only takes two people to create a meeting,” Davis says.

Watch for triggers. “You have to be on guard more than ever than when you are at home,” Davis stresses. “You are jetlagged, you haven’t eaten and you miss your family. That’s when people slip.” Call ahead, and ask the hotel to remove all alcoholic beverages from the minibar.

Be present. Now that you are sober, you can look at things through clear eyes. “Focus on the destination, engage with the local culture, revel in the serenity around you,” Davis says.

Pack a gratitude list. Make a list of the positive things that have entered into your life now that you are sober. Celebrate your recovery.


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