The most thrilling part of travelling is trying new things; be it tasting a local dish, or wrapping your mind around a baffling language, being a traveller is about seeking the space beyond your comfort zone.
Often, travelling is also about letting loose, and reaching beyond your daily routine to use alcohol and drugs.
But what about if you’ve completed addiction treatment? Is it still possible to see new places while remaining comfortable in your sobriety?
In a recent essay published on The Fix entitled “The Trials of a Sober Backpacker,” one recovering addict writes about travelling alone through Southeast Asia, and of being confronted with the problem of wanting to accept the drink offered to her by her local hosts, but knowing that a sip of alcohol could mean closing the door on years of alcohol recovery.
“I looked around for help,” Caledonia Dawson writes. “The few tables decorated with Christmas lights in the courtyard of a private home in the coastal town of Kep were empty, except for me and the two men who had escorted me there. ‘No thank you, really.’ Earlier as we sped along the dark seaside on his motorbike, I’d explained to him that I didn’t drink. Ever. He’d said it was ok.”
Her essay goes on to describe the comfort she feels when she finds like-minded travellers – fellow recovering addicts, or those simply not interested in using substances while abroad – and that when she has the courage to seek them out, fellow sober travellers are everywhere. The fact that she has gone through alcohol recovery doesn’t exile her from the groups of travellers she encounters, but rather makes her a traveller of a different breed:
“I volunteered, talked to locals and invited new friends out to film festivals instead of the pub. And when I made the effort, I found that plenty of other travelers shared my wariness of the party scene. Some avoided it because they were also sober, others for financial reasons, and some simply because, like me, they were seeking an experience that couldn’t be found at the bottom of the bottle.”