What it’s like to travel alcohol-free

I used to always wonder how people — who used to drink — travel alcohol-free. Here’s how it worked for me last weekend.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to watch me share about my first (horrible) trip without alcohol, and my latest on, where I was in control and enjoying every moment. It gets easier every time!

Isn’t the whole point of flying and traveling so you can go new places and drink?

If you feel that, I get it.

Seven months ago, I decided to take a break from alcohol. Since then, I’ve traveled a lot. We’ve been to the Bahamas, St. Thomas, the Florida Keys, Siesta Key and to our hunting property in north Florida.

The first trip was hard. (I have a whole Facebook Live where I shared about that, over in our private Facebook group, She Just Glows – Living Free.) It felt like everyone around me was drinking. I wallowed in the self-pity of the unfairness that I “couldn’t.”

I was angry. I cried. It sucked.

It actually felt like torture in the moment. It was the longest craving I ever had, but I knew it would end. It lasted about 7 hours.

And then, as cravings always do, it was gone.

A couple weeks back, my mom and I spent 3 nights in Cape Cod to celebrate my 40th birthday. I took several photos of the drinks I had, with the plan of sharing them with the Facebook group, and then I decided, ‘Why not write a whole post about it?’

So, here’s what it’s like to travel and not drink.

First, I travelled with my mom who doesn’t really drink so that helps a lot.

Second, I deliberately focused my mind on enjoying each moment with her, or engaging fully in whatever we were doing (sightseeing, walking, sunset, looking at birds), rather than thinking about what was — or wasn’t — in my drink.

In other words, I focused on what I was doing. Not what I wasn’t.

Here’s a rundown of what we did:


Wednesday


1pm Waiting at the Airport

I am afraid of turbulence and used to bring my own mini Tito’s bottles in case of emergency (or not *wink*). Since alcohol is off the table for me right now, I took an Ativan before our 2.5-hour flight. It worked. It helped me feel calm and my heart was not pounding. Nothing more. While we waited to board our flight, our inn in Cape Cod called to tell us we couldn’t stay there because they had storm damage. Rather than using that as an excuse to pour another drink as I would’ve before, I dug in, kept calm and found us another place to stay. Calm and in control. I handled it, and it felt really good. I don’t need a drink of alcohol to handle my life! Period.


7pm Finding a Dinner Spot

As I shared in a previous post in our private Facebook group, it was dark and stormy when we arrived in the area. We were hungry. We wanted a restaurant but we found a pub. At first, it felt unfair that everyone else was drinking and laughing. Until I realized I can drink and laugh too. It just won’t be alcohol (or even a non-alcoholic beer because they didn’t have any). I ordered a club soda and lemon and focused on the conversation and the food. During the dinner, my eyes stalled on a woman at the bar who had ordered one beer. I studied her. It took her about 15 minutes to take her first sip. An hour later, she was barely halfway through. And by the time we got the check over 2 hours later, there was still beer in the bottom of her pint glass. She’d had less than one beer over a 2-hour time period. ‘This is why I don’t drink,’ I realized. ‘Because I would not be that woman having just one.’ Suddenly, when I remembered the facts, it didn’t seem so unfair.


8pm Uncomfortable Emotions & Leaning on My Sis

After dinner, I got a text that brought up some uncomfortable emotions for me. Before, I would have just kept drinking to not feel the feelings. Instead, I poured a mint cucumber sparkling water I’d purchased earlier at the liquor store and Marco Poloed my sister. By the end of the conversation, I felt grounded and secure. And the next morning I woke up feeling powerful that I was able to overcome tough feelings completely on my own. I can handle whatever life throws at me. Without alcohol.


Thursday


9am Exploration Run

I had so much energy after my morning coffee that I decided I wanted to go on a run to the beach. I just love running in new places because it’s a fresh way to explore a place. You notice details and nuances you wouldn’t if you were in a car. Plus, I usually run alone and it’s a great opportunity to refresh and check in with myself about my goals and intentions for a trip. In this case, it was bonding with my amazing mama! It also felt like a victory to know I felt great enough to do something good for my body during a girls’ trip. I wasn’t recovering from the night before.


12pm Sam Adams at Lunch

To my delight, a pub we stopped at had a non-alcoholic beer I hadn’t tried before. It was so delicious! I had 2 with my clam chowder and fries. I also ordered a club soda with lemon.

5pm Pink Whipped Cream With a Straw at Dinner

When the server first took our drink order, I asked what I ask at every restaurant: “Do you have non-alcoholic beer?” This way, it’s clear to the server that I am not drinking, and I guess in my mind, there’s less chance that I’ll accidentally get a drink with alcohol. They had one type of non-alcoholic beer, which I ordered. It was fine. When he asked if I wanted another one, I said, “Do you have any other non-alcoholic options?” He said they had lots of drinks they could make as mocktails. “How about a Lime Rickey?” he asked. I agreed even though I had no idea what it is. It was so delicious. I mean who doesn’t love a light pink drink that tastes like whipped cream and berries? Plus, I still had dessert to look forward to! Winning!

Friday


7pm Drinks Experiment at Dinner

Who said not drinking is boring? Answer: Me, before I stopped drinking *wink*. Boy was I wrong. Since I’m not just ordering the same old drink every meal (to be refilled at least 4 times), now I get to try new and different drinks and it really almost feels like a liquid journey. I know that sounds corny but that’s really how it feels!

At dinner, I ordered the vegetable plate which had 6 different types of veggies cooked different ways. I love that, because alcohol is off the table, I’m more prone to order foods that are wholesome and actually feel good in my body.

First, I had their non-alcoholic beer. It was fine. (To me, a lot of the non-alcoholic beers out there just taste metal-y and I’m over it. Athletic Brewing Company is my favorite alcohol-free hands down! But they rarely have it in restaurants, at least in my experience.)

After that, I’d noticed a non-alcoholic section of the drink menu before, so I asked for the hibiscus orange mocktail they served. It was so refreshing and delicious.

Something I love about not drinking is I really feel like a kid again. My senses are sharper, and the simpler pleasures are exciting again. It’s the same when I order drinks.

Instead of counting calories and focusing only on the stiff, low-calorie vodka and soda I know will get me on the fastest train to feeling loose, I actually focus on the taste and experience of each drink. It’s really more relaxing because I’m not racing to a feeling. I’m enjoying this feeling, right now.

Now, when I look back on my trip with my mom, I think of our conversations, our memories, the delicious food and the amazing people we met. I have zero memories of hungover mornings, dry mouth, feeling sick and struggling to enjoy myself because I was recovering from my choices the day before.

That is true freedom!

If you’re interested in learning more about my journey, or want to witness other women who’ve made the same choice, join our private Facebook group, She Just Glows – Living Free. If one-on-one support is what you need, whether it’s related to drinking or anything else in life, I’d love to connect with you through Joy Coaching With Janie. I offer 90-minute calls, 12 weeks of weekly calls and group challenges. Just click the link and enter your info in the online form and I’ll send you a text. Let’s connect!

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