What I Learned From My First Alcohol-Free Vacation
When I first contemplated ending my drinking career in August 2016, I gasped at the timing. “Maybe I should wait”, I thought. After all, my BIG birthday was just around the corner in January. We had plans to go to a Caribbean island with two other couples to an all-inclusive resort where alcohol would be free-flowing.
My mind started swirling as I went into panic mode. The anxiety was unbearable.
How would I survive this?
And why would I want to put myself in this impossible situation??
Is it possible to take a vacation without drinking?
Ironically, I chose this specific resort because it was all-inclusive. I wanted to sit near the Caribbean Sea while drinking my fun cocktails. I envisioned laughing all day while dancing the night away with my best friends. All-day drink fests were a norm for us, and that’s how I saw this vacation in my mind. To me, that equaled all-day fun!
How in the world would I make this trip enjoyable without alcohol?
“I can’t do it. I should just wait,” I said quietly to myself as I tried to justify putting off the inevitable. But then, I remembered why I needed to stop drinking in the first place. It was time.
Why did I need to stop drinking in the first place?
I had reached my own personal enough of feeling like crap and was tired of being tired. Additionally, I had gained 10 lbs, and I was sluggish, foggy minded, and miserable when I wasn’t drinking. The only solution was to either drink all day to ignore those feelings, or quit entirely and stick to it this time.
So I did. On August 14, 2016, I drank my last sip of alcohol. (okay, it was more than a sip and more like two bottles, but who’s counting at this point).
The trip was months away, and this girl needed to get enough time under her belt before attempting this new experiment. I had plenty of practice before January. I had holiday parties, dinners out, and social gatherings beforehand.
It wasn’t easy at first
I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy at first. I had to answer the questions that I knew would be asked, such as, “Why aren’t you drinking”? “Is this a permanent thing”? “You’re doing this, why”?
Ugh….I wanted to crawl in a hole.
It was hard enough to navigate this new reality as it were, but now I had to answer questions? I was already mourning the loss of alcohol. It was as though my best friend had died, and I was alone.
If only I knew then what I know now.
If only I knew how my brain works and that I had the power within to control those thoughts and feelings. But I didn’t know; I had to learn the hard way. It’s the reason why I’ve dedicated my life to helping others before they go through those similar moments and before they get too far into their addiction.
January came, and the trip was still on. By this time, I had built enough strength, had started a self-development routine, and was working on mindset. I made the decision to move ahead with the vacation as planned, but with one giant determination, to do it alcohol-free.
So, was it possible to do a vacation without drinking?
We traveled with one of the couples on the same flight. My first test happened within hours of leaving Richmond, VA. They ordered drinks from an airport lounge during our layover. I could feel resentment bubbling up in my body. I had to remind myself that the decision to give up alcohol was my choice, and that doesn’t mean others will do the same, nor should I be upset about it.
Test #1 – passed. Check!
The first few days were great!! I ordered non-alcoholic drinks while the others had their usual. I was in a good place, literally and figuratively. After all, I was at a beautiful resort in St. Lucia! What could go wrong?
Mid-week presented test number two. We spent the day exploring a national park and another island resort. The day was both fun and adventurous! We landed on the beach after our long hike, ready to relax. Then it happened…
I lost my cool…and I mean in a BIG way!
My friends had just come from the bar with glasses of white wine in their hands, heading towards us as we floated in the calm, crystal turquoise sea.
The temptations of having a drink.
I saw the wine glistening in the extra-large glasses they were carrying. It looked so delicious. My mouth was watering with the mere thought of having some. I was jealous, mad, resentful and hurt.
I had been stuffing my emotions for several days now, ignoring my feelings and it was like the lid just blew off! I became furious and couldn’t take it any longer!!
Getting out of the water, I ran away from them all, including my husband that was always super supportive. I couldn’t stand the thought of being around any of them at that moment. Feeling furious, I felt as though they were “doing this to me”, rather than standing in the power of my decision not to drink. I was trying to find blame and felt so alone and isolated. I had my pity party that lasted an hour.
After collecting myself, showering and trying to make myself presentable again, I reappeared with my tail between my legs out of sheer embarrassment and shame. The rest of the evening was awkward and weird, at least for me. I was in my head, and it was all on me. They had no clue, and if they did, not one word was exchanged.
Test #2 – fail. Or was it a pass?
By the next night, I gained enough strength to deal with test number three. The six of us went to an Italian restaurant. The smell of red sauce, pasta, pizza, and fresh bread was delightful.
What was I going to drink? The trigger was strong and I was accustomed to having red wine with pasta. Did I do it? Nope, this girl ordered a club soda with cranberry instead. (Part one of test number three, passed!)
My friend next to me, who happened to be sitting on my right, and is left-handed, had placed her super-sized glass of Cabernet almost directly in front of me. I could smell the wine. It smelled both delicious and bad, all at the same time. “Not again”, I thought.
I wasn’t going to accept this temptation after the day before. So, I whispered in her ear to please move her glass to the other side of her plate, to her right, so I wouldn’t have to smell it. She did and apologized. I understood as this was a new normal for all of us. Whew, that was easy!
Test #3 – passed!
I smiled inside, knowing that I took care of what I needed at that moment without causing a scene or disturbance. It was their vacation also, and I wanted them to enjoy it just as much, and that meant they were going to drink. I accepted this fact.
So what did I learn from that vacation?
It took some practice, but only I can be in control of my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It’s up to me to answer for myself and to stick to my intention. The commitment is to me alone.
I learned that I’m stronger than I realized and that my friends still love me just the same. But what was the biggest lesson of all that I didn’t mention yet????
I am still as fun without drinking alcohol!!!
This trip was a BLAST!! I remember every day, every outing, every meal, every adventure, and all the sights and sounds that surrounded me. I was fully present for all of it, not just bits and pieces if I had chosen to drink. We danced, partied, got crazy, and laughed all day, just as I had hoped!
It was a milestone birthday that year, but it was more than just that for me. I learned that I am valuable, worthy, and possess incredible strength and courage, much more than I gave myself credit.
It is possible to take a vacation without drinking!
I’m proof that it can be done. I learned a lot over those first five months of being alcohol-free. It was a tough journey, yes, but I know now how to move others through those moments. I teach others how to understand their minds in a more profound way and uncover what’s holding them back from making the best decision of their life. I help them discover their true self, with power and conviction to put themselves first.
Is it your turn? Are you ready to learn how to have a fantastic, fulfilling FUN life without needing alcohol? Join me on a call, and let’s explore the possibilities that are waiting for you. If I can do it, so can you.