You’re Not Missing Out: Sober Holiday Myths

You’re Not Missing Out: Sober Holiday Myths

At this time of year, I often hear from people who’re worried that a sober holiday means missing out.

They can’t imagine skipping cocktails by the pool or saying no to wine with their evening meal. Sampling the local booze is all part of the ‘cultural experience’, right?

When you’re feeling this way, it’s easy to talk yourself into giving up on your sober goals.

I totally understand this fear of feeling deprived. No one wants to feel as if they’re having less fun than everyone else, do they?

That’s why I’ve written this blog. I have a totally different perspective on ‘missing out’ that will help you look at things in a different light

 

Understand that everyone is ‘missing out’ – all the time!

Have you heard of the invisible gorilla? In a study, participants were asked to watch this video of people playing basketball. They had to count the number of passes made by people on one of the teams. In the middle of the video, a gorilla strolls across the screen, faces the camera and thumps its chest.

If you were watching, would you spot the gorilla? Most of us think ‘yeah, of course I would!’ And yet a Harvard study found that half the viewers didn’t see it. They were so focused on watching the players and counting the passes, they noticed nothing else. 

So what’s this got to do with sobriety?

The point is, we only ever absorb a tiny fraction of what’s going on around us. We miss stuff all the time. When we’re on holiday we’re bombarded with new sights, new culture, food, beaches, architecture and often a different language. No matter how hard you try, you will come home having only experienced a tiny part of it. We simply cannot take everything in.

This means that everyone – sober or not – is ‘missing out’ on something.

No one can ever have a ‘full’ or ‘complete’ experience of anything. It’s just not possible. Once we understand this concept, our focus can shift from “Am I going to miss out?” to “Ok, what is it I’m happy to miss out on?” And this brings me on to my next point.

 

Decide what you do want to make space for 

When you choose to experience less of one thing (e.g. alcohol) you create more room for other experiences. If you think about everything you want from your next trip and imagine squeezing it all into one suitcase, is there room for alcohol in there too?

Here’s what I know about booze: it takes up waaay more space than you think. It’s very greedy. As soon as you start drinking, your lovely holiday is no longer savoured or truly appreciated. Instead, you’re obsessing about when you’ll drink next. What will you have? Where? How much? You’re constantly battling with yourself. 

When you’re drinking, you become the person who misses the gorilla.

You’re so focused on booze, everything else gets squeezed out. The quality time you wanted to have with your loved ones? You miss out on that because you’re numb and not fully present. The lovely restaurant that serves great food but doesn’t offer booze? You don’t bother going. The tourist trips you were excited about? You struggle through them, hungover. That rested, recharged feeling you craved? It’s vanished. 

You deserve better than this, right?

If you’ve not experienced a sober holiday before, isn’t it about time you tried one? Change the script this year and stop missing out on the kind of break you deserve. I’ve written before about why sober holidays are THE cheapest and best upgrade you’ll ever get – you can read that here.

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33 Comments

  1. Totally agree! When I compare my holidays now to the ones I used to have when I was boozing, it’s obvious how much I missed out on back then. We’d fly half way across the world to just drink. What was the point? I would come home feeling as if I needed another holiday to get over the one I just had. Thankfully those holidays are a thing of the past – I’m 18 months AF thanks to your course Kate.

    Reply
    • I love that, Jen. We did used to spend money and time to go far away to sit and drink at a different table. When sober the next morning, feeling great, you can take in the real reasons we travel.

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    • Congratulations on your 18 months Jen! I’m really pleased to see you doing so well ❤️

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    • I really hope this is going to be me . Have a holiday planned for August and can’t imagine how I will enjoy it AF . But I also can’t imagine it with alcohol either. Would end in tears and hangovers and I don’t want that

      Reply
  2. My husband and I just celebrated a little weekend getaway together and we both stayed sober! Vacations and Holidays both bring about temptation! But, we stayed STRONG!!

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    • As I am gearing up for a vacation away to visit my family, to drink or not to drink has been occupying way more of my time than I’d like to admit. Thank you for this post, it is very timely.

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      • Keep going Michelle. It’s so much easier when you just make the one decision to say no. You won’t regret it 🙂

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      • I love this. I’m going on a weekend away with my husband soon. Last vacation I was totally focused on drinking. And I remember I chose a less expensive place to eat because I knew I would want to buy drinks. The food was terrible! I’m so looking forward to this trip- I can’t wait to do more physical activity like hiking and enjoy time with my husband without obsessing about when or where I’ll drink. And I can’t wait to wake up not feeling groggy and gross. An interesting side effect to not drinking is I have more fun. I went to a festival with my family last week and I laughed so hard. Normally because I’d be drinking I would try to tone myself down so no-one would think I was drunk. So crazy that I didn’t even realize I did that. I’m so thankful to be sober.

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        • It’s great to hear you are laughing more, sober! That is a very good side effect 🙂

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      • True. I too have visiting back home. My plan is to enjoy it AF. These posts are keeping me focused.

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      • True that. Opting to be sober!

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    • Woo hoo, well done! I hope you had a fab time 🙂

      Reply
  3. This is a fantastic post and I will re-read this one several times over the coming weeks, because I’ve got a holiday booked and it’s going to be my first sober holiday.

    I do feel slightly worried about it, but I’ve made sure to book a holiday that will have lots of history and sightseeing to absorb, which is what I love doing, so I’m going to make sure I have a brilliant time and especially as I know that none of it will be spent hungover, which is huge!

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    • Any sober first can feel quite challenging – it’s the first time you’re breaking an association and doing something different. It sounds as if you have some great plans in place – I’m sure you’ll have an amazing trip! 🙂

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  4. I celebrated 500 days sober last week, and I didn’t even realize it had been that long until I saw a sober friend’s post about her 500-day mark, and I looked up my tally. Anyway, I have gone on several vacations now sans booze, and it is amazing! I love starting off my day on vacay by running with my husband or going on long walks with my kiddos. When I used to drink, I sometimes didn’t want to wake up early to run. I was so missing out! And I really feel like I take in everything so much now instead of zoning out while drinking. Bonus: I actually lose weight on vacation these days, even enjoying treats, because I’m not drinking a bunch of extra empty calories, and I’m more active. At the end of a holiday, I truly feel recharged.

    It’s not like you can’t still enjoy special drinks. Some fresh berries in sparkling water or cucumber water or virgin mojitos are awesome, same for things like GT’s Guava Goddess kombucha. There are some really decent nonalcoholic proseccos and beer, too, if you want to fit in with the crowd more or miss the taste.

    I’m so thankful for the Getting Unstuck course. If you’re on the fence about it, just go for it! It may be the best money you’ll ever spend!

    Reply
    • Thanks Nat and congratulations on your 500 days. You know alcohol free living has become your new normal when you actually forget how many days you are! Your alcohol free holidays sound amazing – this is what I call living life to full ❤️

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  5. This blog is so true and has been written at the perfect time for me. I’m currently on holiday in the USA and I’ve not had a drink for four months. I’m on day 3 and I have wondered if to have a drink or not but I’ve already done so much more than I would of had I been drinking! Here’s to my first soba holiday.

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    • I’m glad this came along at just the right time. Keep going Beccy – you won’t regret it! You can do it 🙂

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  6. Wise post Kate! Great point – we all miss out on different things – we just have to choose what we want to focus on. I missed so many great experiences in my travels because I was too hungover to get up. Thanks for what you do! x

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    • Thanks Jane. Hangovers abroad are very costly when you think about everything you miss out on, as a result of feeling unwell!

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  7. Interesting timing…I returned yesterday from 2.5 weeks in Spain with my hard drinking sister. I had a lot of fear going into this get-away, fear that I would want to drink again and negate 18 months of sobriety. To my surprise it was just the opposite. Watching my sister was an inspiration to stay sober. I could see in her behavior the person I used to be. No meal ordered without booze, no afternoon snack ordered without booze, twitching until cocktail hour, running to the store for more wine or being sure to pick some up on the way back to the hotel, becoming louder and more ugly American with each glass of poison. PAST TENSE, thank you Sober School and the work I put into putting down the bottle in January 2018. It was hard, still is hard some days AND it is worth it. I am worth it!

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    • You absolutely are worth it. Well done for navigating your holiday alcohol-free. It sounds like an eye opening few weeks!

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  8. I did my first sober holiday in April to a place I’ve been to several times before. The resort is known for their “free” happy hours at 5pm every day. In the past, we used to make sure we were there early so we could drink as much as we could for free before dinner. This year we didn’t even attend at all (even though they have a non-alcoholic option). We genuinely didn’t want to go and ended up going to dinner early (due to the time change we were starving by 4pm anyway). Which meant we were finished with dinner fairly early and in our jamies by 8pm which is our favorite thing ever. I left that trip feeling energized and not bloated and gross like I usually am after a week long, booze-filled vacation. It was easier to make healthy food choices too and when I did splurge and get a treat, it didn’t affect me as it did when I was also drinking.

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    • Sounds like the perfect holiday Katie! Well done 🙂

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  9. I am 21 days into a 28 day break from alcohol. My second 1 month break in 12 months. I enjoy alcohol free living and I must admit I feel fantastic and cant believe the benefits. I just went on a cruise and had a premium drinks package, maybe I wont need it next cruise who knows.

    Reply
    • I hope you continue your break Michelle – after 28 days it’s only really just beginning! You have so much more to look forward to if you stick with it. Most people don’t fully experience all the benefits until 100 days 🙂

      Reply
  10. This blog has come at a perfect time for me as I have a yearly weekend away with my husband. We always wine and dine. I’m up to 10 days sober and getting my head in the game for a sober weekend even though my husband will drink the whole weekend.

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    • Jill, don’t give up. I am 5 days sober and my husband, like yours, still drinks. Last night we went to dinner at a place where wine is always the main event. My husband drank but I didn’t. I must say it was a little uncomfortable. I didnt want to linger the way we use to. Once I finished my meal I wanted to leave. But I’m sure with more sober days under my belt this will become easier. After dinner I felt great. I felt proud and strong and happy. Having a spouse that still drinks makes this so much more challenging but not impossible. Stay strong. My hope is that one day he will see the positive changes in me and want to do the same for himself.

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  11. Holidays without alcohol are the best. I feel sorry for my younger self who partly ruined three vacations – San Francisco, Peru, and Montreal – by getting blackout drunk and then being too sick and hungover the next day to go see the sights. I was miserable and it was a real disappointment for the people I was traveling with. What a waste! I can’t go back and change that, but I’ve learned my lesson and am AF now. I wish I’d done it sooner, though. I love waking up and having the energy and enthusiasm to see all the museums, galleries, and attractions.

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    • I understand that regret. But you’re right – you can’t change the past. All you can do is change the future… which is exactly what you are doing now. Congratulations on your sobriety Paula!

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  12. Sober travel is a revelation. How many trips have I wasted being hungover? Or going to breweries over museums? Being alive to the present moment lets me soak in the wonder of a place.

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    • Absolutely agreed. Congratulations on your sobriety Karolina – wishing you many more alcohol free trips ahead!

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  13. I love this article so much….ive read sooooo much stuff, and “heard it all before” ….. that when someone writes something or puts a new spin on it, I actually really get something out of it. Thankyou Kate!! Xx

    Reply

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