Sober Sojourns

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I’m a very different person now than I was when I was in middle school and early high school. I have my faith to thank for that, as well as the help of some amazing friends and family members. These days, I choose not to drink alcohol, both for religious reasons and for myself. And I’ve learned how to have a great time and enjoy the company of amazing friends without being drunk.

But there are a few things that still make me feel like I want a drink, and one of them in particular seems weird to me. When I go on vacations, I find myself surprisingly bored and feeling like I want a beer. I think I just associate the free time and lack of responsibilities with a reason to drink. Do you have any tips for avoiding alcohol on vacation?

Alcohol is a big part of American culture, though there are plenty of reasons to believe that it should not be. Most Americans (86.4%) have had a drink in their lifetime. Americans’ love of booze extends to their vacations, and many drink more on trips than they’d ever drink at home. Tourist bars can be very successful businesses, say the experts at Kent, Washington alcoholic beverage distributor Columbia Distributing. To tourists, every day is a weekend day.

But you don’t need to drink to have a fantastic time on vacation. The key, say the guides at Henry County, Georgia’s tourism office, is to identify activities that will reward your sobriety.

There’s nothing stopping you from hitting the beach without a cooler of beer or hopping from restaurant to restaurant without ordering a glass of wine, but there’s also no doubt that some activities lend themselves to alcohol consumption in ways that others don’t, or perhaps tend to take more of our time when we add alcohol to the mix. When sober, on the other hand, we may be less content to stay put or waste time, and may be more ready to tackle higher-energy activities.

Let’s talk specifics. Consider, for instance, outdoor activities. Hiking, biking, rock climbing, and skiing are all best enjoyed sober (and, in fact, each can be dangerous to do when intoxicated). Intellectually stimulating activities are also best done with a clear mind, which is why a trip to the museum or a night at a classical concert can be great urban vacation activities for the sober among us.

It also, of course, matters who you vacation with. If you’re spending your time with friends from your old life, you may be experiencing something more than just boredom: experts say that friends made when indulging in unhealthy addictions may not stay friends when one gets clean, and that doing so might not even be healthy. Consider surrounding yourself with friends who share your commitment to sobriety – a group vacation with such people might feel very different than a trip with drinkers or a vacation spent alone.

“It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

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