Holiday Travel Tips

Travel can be a precarious time for people in recovery, especially during the winter holidays. Having unaccounted for time, increased stress from travel, spending money, visits with family, having reduced accountability and easy access to the internet and other “goodies” as well as an absence of support can make for a dangerous combination that can be detrimental to one’s recovery. Dr. David Bissette wrote a wonderful guide for traveling and we’ve included it in this post.

The following “Tips for Travel” were written by David C. Bissette, Psy.D. The full pamphlet can be downloaded here.

  1. When it comes to travel, the best defense is definitely a good offense. Plan an active, full life while being on the road.
  2. Determine to have a positive “experience” of your destination—of both the location and people. Take time to read in advance to learn what is interesting about the area’s history. If the only thing you know when you arrive is your addiction, then that may be the only thing you do. This is also true for business trips to “uninteresting” places…every place has a culture.
  3. Don’t make sobriety a choice between acting out and staying alone in your hotel. Plan an outing that is fun and will provide a happy memory…a play, concert, or ball game
  4. Be prepared to spend a little money on your food…eat well and don’t feel deprived. Let a meal be a special occasion.
  5. Plan in advance for difficult situations. Ask for pornographic movies to be turned off in your hotel room when you check in. Make a pre-planned call to your sponsor to confirm that you have done this.
  6. Don’t let yourself feel too far from your support network. Keep a phone list in your wallet and make phone appointments before you leave home…share successes and disappointments throughout the day if necessary.
  7. Twelve-step meetings in other cities can be a source of support and a great way to make new friends. Get a meeting list ahead of time with maps from MapQuest, or call for a ride to a meeting before you leave home. Attend a meeting early in your trip and have a meal later with a new acquaintance from the meeting. Perhaps you’ll find a sightseeing guide!
  8. Have some fun shopping. Buy a souvenir or even a “regular” purchase. Buying a needed shirt when traveling does not cost extra and can be a pleasant reminder of your travel. Travel is also a great time to do Christmas or birthday shopping.
  9. Learn to meditate, and if you get toxic s-l-o-w d-o-w-n and practice your meditation.
  10. Don’t be anonymous at your hotel. Be personable with the staff and other guests. You may learn something interesting to do or have a meaningful moment with someone else.
  11. Use the trip for personal or family planning. You can review your recovery plan or read a recovery book. Use it as well-earned time to relax and think about the current direction of your life or plan your next personal or family vacation.
  12. Give your inner kid some time on the trip. Go see a Disney movie or visit the local zoo if there is one. Visit a toy store or an ice cream shop, or explore an old hobby. Don’t be shy!
  13. Find “your” coffee shop or special place to go while at your destination. Create a sense of home even while away for a short time.
  14. Watch your cash availability if prostitution or drugs is a problem. If necessary, get a credit card with a low limit that doesn’t allow cash advances.
  15. Plan, plan, plan your trip…to be safe, fun, educational and relational.
  16. And finally, if you’re going to be on the internet while on the road consider a little reading at…

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