For sober travelers, it might seem difficult to “get out” without “going out.” Vacations are about exploring a new place and having a good time and for some, that may feel difficult to travel sober and still have fun. But while sobriety might change your travel experience, sober vacations are still fun and relaxing. Sobriety isn’t the end to being able to enjoy fun things in life like vacations and traveling. On the contrary, sobriety more often than not enhances the enjoyment of vacation and traveling—no days wasted nursing a hangover means more time and energy to explore new places! Soba Recovery encourages you to keep on reading for sober vacation ideas!
Where to Go on a Vacation Sober
If you’re sober you can go anywhere, but depending on your comfort levels, some destinations may be sober-friendlier than others. At some vacation destinations, alcohol, drugs, or a party scene are less emphasized than others. Skip locations like Napa, Las Vegas, or Ibiza where alcohol and partying are highly emphasized in the tourist culture and check out these destinations instead!
Sober Vacation Destinations in the United States
- San Antonio, Texas—In this vibrant city you can explore the historic Alamo, check out the Natural Bridge Caverns, stroll the San Antonio River Walk or walk through the King William Historic District. San Antonio also has an abundance of great museums, as well as the San Antonio zoo, SeaWorld San Antonio and Six Flags Fiesta Texas.
- Nashville, Tennessee—The Music City of the United States is also known as the soberest city in the United States. This is a great spot for country music fans, from opportunities to see live music, to checking out the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Radnor Lake State Park is also on the outskirts of town for outdoor recreation. The Grand Ole Opry and the Parthenon, a full-scale replica of the original in Athens, are also top attractions. Additionally, Nashville has a plethora of city tours and plenty of art and science museums.
- Denver, Colorado—While you might think of Denver as a city where breweries are abundant and weed is legal, Denver also has a huge range of outdoor activities from skiing and snowboarding to hiking, whitewater rafting, and ziplining. Denver also has many sober attractions like the zoo, the aquarium, an abundance of art museums, and Red Rocks park and amphitheater. Denver also has great food—you can check out The Source, an artisanal market, or Denver Central Market, a gourmet food hall. Denver also has several sober bars and often has sober pop-up entertainment like sober sunrise dance parties by Daybreaker.
Sober Vacation Destinations Abroad
- Sri Lanka—The culture in this island nation south of India de-emphasizes drugs and alcohol meaning as a tourist you’ll have reduced exposure to these substances. Sri Lanka has a beautiful and diverse landscape that offers visitors the opportunity to relax on serendipitous beaches, explore the rainforests, or climb a mountain. Sri Lanka is also home to breathtaking historical sites like Sigiriya, a rock-top fortress that has served as a royal palace as well as a Buddhist monastery.
- Japan—Alcohol is available but much less emphasized than it is in the United States. In Japan you can visit vibrant cities to experience the sights and delicious food. Cities like Kyoto and Tokyo have no shortage of things to explore, from bamboo forests to restaurants to festivals.
- Morocco—In the culture of Morocco, alcohol is available, but not a part of the culture and easy to avoid altogether. Morocco has accident cities with beautiful architecture and buzzing street markets. Morocco also has breathtaking sites like the Atlas Mountains, the blue village of Chefchaouen, the red arches of Legzira and the UNESCO World Heritage site Aït Benhaddou.
Additionally, different kinds of vacations lend themselves to being sober vacations like hiking or trekking trips, and meditation, wellness or yoga retreats. There are also sober resorts in Mexico and sober cruises to different locations all over the world. Sober tourism is an increasingly booming business, and sober traveling companies are becoming more abundant. Companies like Sober Vacations International and Travel Sober create all-inclusive (save for airfare) trips with pre-planned sober-centric activities that bring like-minded individuals together over experiences that aren’t centered around drugs or alcohol.
Activities to Do on a Sober Vacation
A big component of sober vacations is the activities you plan to do. Even vacation destinations that are less sober-friendly can still be an enjoyable sober vacation destination so long as the activities are sober-centric. Of course, the activities you plan on a sober vacation depend to a degree on the destination you choose, but here are some ideas of activities you might do:
- A walking or biking tour of the city you’re visiting
- Visit historic sites
- Visit museums
- Try a beach activity like surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, or sailing
- Try a snow sport like skiing, snow-boarding, ice skating, snowmobiling
- Go to a spa
- Check out the hiking trails or try rock climbing
- Attend local events like art markets or music
- Try local foods
If you’re planning a sober vacation it is a good idea to plan ahead so you don’t feel bored or aimless or have too much free time. When you pinpoint the perfect location for your sober vacation, do some research on the local attractions to schedule some activities! On the other hand, make sure you don’t plan so many activities that you feel stressed or rushed.
Tips for Staying Sober on Vacation
Vacations might have more temptations than you’re used to in your day to day life, so it is important to check in where you’re at in your recovery before going on a sober vacation. If you decide you’re ready, here are some additional tips to keep in mind for how to stay sober on vacation:
- Go with a supportive or sober friend who will not prioritize alcohol or other substances on the trip and can hold you accountable.
- Make plans ahead of time for activities to keep busy, but also leave room for spontaneity and don’t overpack your schedule if you feel rushed or stressed.
- Choose accommodations that don’t include happy hour drinks, have hotel bars, have minibars in the rooms or are right next to bars or nightclubs. One way to do this is to stay in vacation rentals where you can avoid partying vacationers.
- Prepare for triggers and take reminders of your sobriety with you.
- If you find yourself struggling, reach out to your support network back home, attend an online support group meeting or find a local fellowship meeting. Support groups like AA have meetings all over the world.
The most important component of sober vacations is the commitment to sobriety that comes before, during, and after the vacation. The best time to plan a sober vacation is after you’ve been able to maintain a stable period in recovery, so you are able to truly relax and have fun on your vacation. If you feel like you aren’t quiet at that point in your recovery, keep working! You can get there. At Soba Recovery, we believe in individualized treatment for long-term recovery. If you’ve decided it is time to get sober, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to see how we can help!