Once individuals are grounded in their sobriety, traveling often becomes an attractive option. While traveling and using often went together, whether it was a cross country road trip with a pipe or a cruise with a lot of booze, a sober vacation is normally a new experience. There are several structured sober travel companies that provide opportunities for sober individuals or groups to travel in large groups in order to provide 12-step meetings, support, sober activities, an alcohol-free environment, and/or fellowship.
These sober group vacations have several benefits. First, they are relatively low stress. The planning is by and large done for you, and, depending on the company and destination, can be relatively inexpensive. Additionally, they provide a new perspective on recovery. Everyone is sober and having fun, creating a sense of fellowship with a light heartedness that can sometimes be lost in everyday life. Furthermore, it provides an opportunity to travel safely with decreased access and temptation for alcohol. There is an increased accessibility to AA meetings, generally put on by the company running the vacation.
Consider each companies resources for recovery and see which best fits your needs. For example, Vacation at John’s Recovery Guest House provides only one AA meeting a day at the guest house (Recovery Vacation). Meanwhile, at the other end of the spectrum, Sober Celebrations has “Gratitude Cruises” which include a 24-hour fellowship station, AA meetings, and Al-Anon meetings, in addition to a “Sober Concierge Host” with 37 years sober. The on shore excursions are aimed at individuals in recovery exploring different parts of the world together in unity and fellowship (Sober Celebration).
Perhaps the best known company is Sober Vacations International, founded in 1987. Known for Club Med trips, also known as Sober Village, actually rent out the entire resort for individuals in recovery and remove the alcohol. They report that nearly 84% of participants on their vacations come on another vacation with them (Sober Vacations International).
When many of us initially get sober, parts of our lives grind to a halt and then as we become well they take off. Things that we never expected are actually happening for us. Sober vacations of course can be done on your own, mapping out recovery meetings and bringing recovery books. There are 108,000 Alcoholics Anonymous meetings worldwide (Hetter). It is always a good idea to plan exactly which meetings you are going to and to have internet access for internet meetings should you not have access to AA meetings in a language that you speak.
Sober Celebrations pointed out several important points on its website. These companies have no affiliation to AA even though many or most of the people going on the vacations are members. Furthermore, you may or may not be “spiritually fit” for a vacation, run by a sober company or organized by you. These companies’ vacations are not 12-step conventions or rehabs, just vacations with sober people. If you are interested, they recommend discussing it with your sponsor (Sober Celebration). I would add the importance of discussing it with a therapist and/or a psychiatrist.
Sobriety is meant to be fun. I have only heard good things about these vacations. People love the opportunity to get a good dose of fellowship, sunshine, and culture. I have heard about sober living groups going and individuals with more sober time going on their own and making friends along the way. While it is not by any means a 12-step retreat, it simultaneously rejuvenates the spirit to be around so many 12-steppers in an active and stimulating environment interacting with the world and experiencing new meetings.
Hetter, Katia. Strength in Numbers for Sober Travelers. 15 March 2012. Article.
Recovery Vacation. Sober While On Vacation – Vacation at John’s Recovery Guest House. n.d. Website. 2012.
Sober Celebration. Is there fun in sobriety? You betcha! n.d. Website. 2012.
Sober Vacations International. About Us. 2010. Website .
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