Traveling during the recovery process can be difficult on many levels; while part of you wants to relax and have fun, another part of you may be struggling with the temptation of substances in a foreign environment, either because they’re readily available or because being away from home is causing anxiety or homesickness. It’s important to plan well before your trip even begins to make sure you won’t have any problems.
Some things to think about include:
It’s imperative that you do some research before your trip to find out if there will be meetings nearby that you can attend if you start to feel you need one. If there aren’t any, consider looking online for a support group that can help you get through a tough situation.
You’ll also need to check out the area you’ll be visiting; if you’re staying at a resort, for instance, make sure it’s not all-inclusive. Many of these vacation destinations offer an open bar for the duration of a guest’s stay, which can be temptation you definitely don’t need.
There are lots of things to think about when you’re packing, especially if there are certain items you need daily to keep you in the right frame of mind. Comfort items, such as a favorite scarf or piece of jewelry, should be tucked safely away in your carry-on luggage. It’s also a good idea to bring any recovery literature that interests you in case you need a pick-me-up during the trip.
If it’s difficult for you to sleep in a strange place, bring some items that will help you relax, such as a favorite blanket or pillow. Don’t allow yourself to become overly tired, hungry, or bored while you’re away, as these feelings can push you toward wanting a substance. Keep snacks handy, especially if you’re going out for the day, and take naps if you feel you aren’t getting good sleep at night. It’s also important to prepare for any emergencies that could occur.
It’s a good idea to plan out the trip as much as possible and have backup plans, as well. Leaving a trip of several days to chance is dangerous for your recovery, so look online for activities, places to visit, and destinations that you can walk to from your hotel. Look up price ranges for these places and check reviews to make sure they’re worth your time (especially if you’re in a very touristy area).
Most people who go on vacation want to get away and disconnect from the world for a while, but for individuals in recovery, this can be a bad thing. Stay connected, especially to your sponsor or a trusted friend who can help you get through hard times, and let them know where you’ll be in order to maintain a sense of responsibility for your actions. However, it’s a good idea to stay away from “checking in” online to places you visit while on vacation, as this could become a safety issue. Keep your social media settings private to ensure that only friends and family can see your posts.
Remember that recovery is a lifelong road, and when you’re in the early stages, it can seem like an uphill climb that you’re not strong enough to make. Find your strength and challenge yourself to push through any fear or anxiety you may have; you might decide on vacation to try something you’ve always wanted to do but never had the courage or access to, such as rock climbing or snorkeling. As long as it’s a healthy endeavor–and you follow all the safety precautions–this can be an excellent opportunity for you to learn and grow in a positive way.