Say Hello to Sober Tourism
You’ve all heard of the bar crawl. Heck, you’ve probably been on one. Whether or not it was an official guided bender matters less than the amount of establishments you were able to hit and how many drinks you were able to imbibe and still stay standing. Sober tourism is just the opposite, Oh, there’s still some pride to be had in number of places you can cram into a crawl, but that still-standing trope goes out the window. Because here everyone stands – proud and dry – from beginning to end.
And there’s no nasty clean-up at following the end of the crawl either. None. How could there be? It’s a dry bar crawl. In fact, you’ll exit the affair with a renewed sense of well-being; something the standard bar crawl couldn’t provide if it tried.
With another Dry January now gone the way of last call, we thought it wise to take another look at the benefits of sobriety. And sober tourism provides a boat load of benefits.
Just what is sober tourism anyway? The sobertourism.com site says “Because life is too short to be wasted.” Whether that means being wasted the site minders didn’t say, but we think we can figure out which side of that equation they’ll fall upon, especially with an About Us like this:
At SoberTourism, our mission is to provide a platform for those who seek the thrill of adventure, the joy of connection, and the peace of mind without relying on alcohol or drugs. We believe in embracing sobriety as a liberating choice, not a limitation, and that traveling can be a powerful tool for self-discovery and recovery.
In other words, gone is the need for liquid courage; heck, gone is the liquid courage itself. But that doesn’t mean traveling sober doesn’t take courage. If anything, it takes more courage to travel sober. At least from the jump. Once you’ve decided to trust the process though, everything falls right into place.
Whether you’re seeking a curated evening or a guided three-day-stay, Sober Tourism will handle the particulars, and they’ll do so with charm and aplomb. At least that’s what Amanda Robertson implies in her sited Comment:
“I didn’t miss a drop of alcohol one bit. If anything, it made the whole experience even better! The trip was a laugh-a-minute from start to finish. My Instagram is now filled with beautiful landscapes, not blurry selfies. Who knew you could have this much fun while staying sober? Sober Tourism, you’ve got a fan for life!”
Bird’s Eye View
National Geographic’s Jennifer Barger did one better. Actually, she did one hundred better, delivering a full feature extolling the benefits of sober tourism.
And she should know what’s what too, having non-stop brewery hopped from Asheville to Istanbul. Worse, she “would often take them to the extreme, leading to blackouts and crippling hangovers.”
Come to find out Barger was just one of 46.3 million Americans who has a substance abuse problem.
“I suffer from alcohol use disorder, colloquially known as alcoholism,” says Barger. The fact that she used the (the National Institute for Health’s preferred term before taking off the sugar-coating leads us to believe her words are trustworthy.
After all, she’s been sober for five years now. So she’s “learned how to thrive without sauvignon blanc. She’s also learned that figuring how to travel dry in a booze-soaked world has been a whole different journey.”
Here’s what Barger recommends:
Flipping the script on habits and routines is crucial to sobriety, so it only stands to reason it’d also be crucial for sober tourism. “You need to rewire your brain and break old habits,” says Drinking Games author Sarah Levy. That includes chasing the adrenalin that comes from a new experience or a thrilling physical activity. “Sheer exhilaration can be a good substitute for craving a glass of wine,” says We Love Lucid founder Lauren Burnison. That’s why she recommends activities such as kayaking and wind-surfing.
When I visit cities, with their bar-centric nightlife, writes Barger, I seek activities that don’t involve booze—theater in New York City, mariachi concerts in San Antonio.
Make the Meetings
Flipping the script on routines does not mean skipping meetings or even cutting back. That goes whether your meeting plan vies toward Alcoholics Anonymous, SMART Recovery, or The Luckiest Club.“Taking a vacation shouldn’t mean taking a vacation from your meetings and recovery,” says Sarah Weston, manager of Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation’s Connections, a sober coaching program. “You can now attend meetings on Zoom anytime, or find a meeting at your destination.”
That also applies to your choice of travel companion — be careful.
“Don’t go on vacation with people you used to use substances or anyone you have highly conflictual relationships with,” advises Weston.
It’s best to get with folks who’ve walked the walk and are prioritizing sobriety.
“People are just so happy to connect with others who have gone through a similar life experience,” says We Love Lucid’s Burnison. “There’s such an upbeat vibe, and it’s great to wake up without a hangover.”
Healing Properties wholeheartedly Thanks Jennifer Barger and National Geographic for running such an enlightening piece on Sober Tourism. We’d also like to Thank Drinking Games author Sarah Levy, We Love Lucid founder Lauren Burnison, and Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation Connections manager Sarah Weston for coming through with some keen supporting quotes. We also Thank Amanda Robertson. After all, her Comment made for a nice supporting ‘graph.
Mostly though, we Thank YOU for reading this far and for being at least sober curious. Hopefully, there’s more to that curiosity than even we know.