There are so many ways that my decision to quit drinking has affected my day to day life that I had not given much thought to how it would affect my vacations. I’d booked my trip to Europe back in December as I was embarking on my new sober lifestyle. The challenge of traveling without my usual libations wasn’t even a glimmer of a thought.
It wasn’t until two weeks before my flight to Portugal that it dawned on me that I would not be able to drink wine or beer during my two weeks traveling across Portugal, Spain and France. I’m not going to lie. The thought was a bit of a downer. I considered, however briefly, of making an exception just for the two weeks. I mean, what’s a few glasses of wine right? And, come on, it’s Europe! I’d travelled through Europe in my twenties and again in my early forties. Both times, drinking no small amount of wine (and, yes, harbouring a couple hangovers).
However, as I’ve learned to do since I began this sober journey, I visualized past the wonderful experience of sipping red wine outdoors in a beautiful Spanish city, and onwards to the chain of events that would follow.... more wine the next day. Followed by a renewed love of wine and then continuing to drink wine when I returned home and in all likelihood, setting me right back to where I was when I quit on Dec 3, 2018. I did not want to start all over again.
So, that brings me to where I am now. In Spain, on the seventh day of my trip and still very much sticking to my vow to stay clear of alcohol. I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been tempted. But as is the case at home, once I say no thank you, the impulse to drink subsides immediately.
Full disclosure here: this particular trip makes not drinking less of a struggle than other trips. I’m with my 75-year-old mother and we are on a religious pilgrimage. Cue the the ahhhh. I knew I’d come a long way when, before the trip, I announced that I would not have any wine while in Europe and my mother (who barely drinks), haughtily replied she’d WOULD be drinking wine. My mom out-drinking me?this was a first!
So, now that the truth is out, the temptation to drink is clearly less prevalent with a group of religious folks. Although, as a non-religious person myself, this could just as easily drive me (and others) to drink more!
With the tour almost at the halfway point, I am certain I will maintain my sober commitment. I’ve also discovered the triggers that motivated me to drink on previous vacations:
- when wandering new cities, there usually comes a point when you don’t want to tour another church or castle but the day and night are still young. What better way to kill a few more hours than to find a local bar and suck back a few beers or share a couple bottles of wine. Any boredom that started to creep in soon disappears.
- When the conversations run dry, which tends to happen when you’re with the same people or person day in and day out, there’s nothing like a bottle of wine to get the chatter flowing again. While traveling with this group (amazing and kind people might I add), I’ve had to accept that sometimes I just ain’t got nothing left to say. While in the past I would grab for the bottle and pour myself a glass, during this vacation I’ve accepted the awkwardness of silence. I’ve accepted that sometimes I’m just not interesting. And I don’t really care.
- Evenings in the hotel room can feel boring. I mean, this is vacation. Shouldn’t every minute be fun? Pass me the bottle! Rather than forcing myself to “have a good time no matter what”, I’ve allowed myself to naturally fall asleep when it feels right. I know it’s vacation, but yes I will confess, I’m going to bed early. With no English tv channels, it’s me, my mom, my book and my journal. On the positive side, I’ve written more in my journal than ever before. In the past, I’d fall asleep with a sleepy wine buzz which, frankly, is not conducive to writing.
Overall, I’m really enjoying the vacation experience sans libations. My head is always clear, I’m not sticking my foot in my mouth due to overdrinking, and my commitment to continue down this path of sobriety is only growing stronger. It’s all good.