Reason NOT to Drink #3: vacation


Port Aransas sunrise with gull

A much-needed break.

A four-day-weekend.

A little R&R.

Time to decompress.


Call it what you will, the concept of “vacation” never existed in my mind without the accompanying concept of “drinking.”

Whether it was a tropical getaway replete with piña coladas or a girls’ trip to NYC for a wealth of wining and dining, alcohol always figured prominently in my leisure travel. (Of course, it always figured prominently in my business travel, too, but that’s a whole other post entirely.)

After all, vacations are for relaxing and cutting loose – and who could be expected to accomplish these without drink in hand? Not I! As a result, far too many of my vacations involved suffering through at least one horrible hangover in the heat and humidity of the Caribbean, on a nausea-inducing road trip or (worst of all) during a half-day museum visit.

But that was then, and this is now. Today, I’m thankful to say, I have 7+ months of sobriety under my belt. So it was quite a revelation to enjoy a happily hangover-free vacation this past weekend, when B. and I took my daughters to the Gulf Coast of Texas for a mini-vacation.

Bird silhouette

I was up at the crack of dawn every morning, in time to see the sunrise (it was particularly lovely on Saturday, as the pic above shows) and the seagulls flocking to feed in the surf. On Sunday, I woke my youngest daughter at 6:00 and we stole away to a local birding spot, where we spied an alligator, a pair of Roseate Spoonbills, several Great Blue Herons and White Ibises, three Magnificent Frigate Birds, and the unidentified feathered friend in this shot — all before 7:30 a.m.

On the beach, I drank water, lemonade and Diet Cokes – and felt none of the boozy wooziness of beach trips past. At one point, I caught a whiff of coconut sunscreen and it sparked a craving for a sweet piña colada – but only for its tropical flavor, not its rum. B. said we could probably get a virgin colada at a bar nearby, but I let the longing pass and slurped up my lemonade instead.

For those readers who aren’t alcoholics, or who’ve been sober for a while, this revelation of mine (“Wow! You can have fun on vacation without alcohol!”) might seem silly and obvious. Still, I’m happy to share my new experience. Having written about two other types of situations that I used to (but no longer) feel required a buzz to endure, I’m proud to add yet another alcohol-free experience to my growing list.

So I raise my glass of lemonade in a toast to summer, to sunrises, to sobriety and to time off for good behavior.


*ADDENDUM: While reading The Big Book, I came across this section, and thought I’d add it to this post, and to the other “Reason NOT to Drink” posts.

…there was always the curious mental phenomenon that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first drink. Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check. The insane idea won out. Next day we would ask ourselves, in all earnestness and sincerity, how it could have happened.      —p. 37, The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous


9 Responses to “Reason NOT to Drink #3: vacation”

  1. Very proud of you my friend. Sounds like you had a blast. Have I ever told you what an excellent photographer you are? Well…you are. That first shot is gorgeous.


  2. 2 Mary W

    Loved your post on alcohol-less vacations. Reminded me that I didn’t stop thinking that a ‘drink’ was alcohol until I was 5 years sober! Even when I ordered drinks at a place that served no alcohol at all. Takes awhile to get out of the mind set. But you seem to be on the right path. Nice that you wrote on AA’s 74th anniversary as well.

    Keep up the great work with your photographs. They are always fantastic and inspirational as well.

  3. 3 Chaz

    C…. I remember those days too.

    I remember cruises where the main goal of the port of call was to pick up local booze (tax-free and tip-free) so we didnt have to pay for overpriced drinks in femmy little glasses at poolside.

    I remember a particular port of call…. St Thomas in the Virgin Islands where the most preeminant sign amongst all the merchants was “Al Cohen’s Discount Liquor Warehouse”.

    “Thats the place for us”! exclaimed our group of travel companions. We were delighted to be able to buy Canadian Club Rye Whisky for less than we could here in Canada so we stocked up.

    Funny you mention the gulf coast. My first sober vacation was to the gulf coast of Louisianna a few years ago. Full of fun, family, golf and a few church visits. It was amazing and I will remember it always.

    Anyway…. now holidays are so much better than when I drank. I actually enjoy them now. Not anxious like I used to be all the time. Which made it easier to drink.

    Now, I holiday like I stay sober…. a day at a time. I have had more fun times with my wife, kids, and friends…. even though holidays have not been as exotic since I crashed and burned my finances. But they are far better. They are genuine and pure.

    My wife often joins me attending AA meetings in cities we holiday in. Even though she is not “one of us”.

    Great post.

    Leaves me feeling grateful.



  4. 4 Man Alive

    What a strange thing it seems now, to HAVE to get booze for the vacation. But that’s what it was all about. “I have to get out of town so that I can, um, you know, get drunk in another location.”

    I am still sometimes a pretty anxious character, but it is a real plus in terms of trying to relax to be relieved of the worry of getting alcohol, consuming too much of it, hiding the drunkenness, eliminating the evidence, lamenting hangovers, etc. (As an adult and teenager as well.) It’s so much more relaxing now, chemical free, as opposed to previously.

    Thanks for another good post. Haopy 24 hours!

    Man Alive

  5. This is a great post, and so true, no matter how long I’ve been sober, waking up sober to enjoy a truly relaxing day and actually noticing all the beauty that exists around me, is amazing and thank you for this brilliant post!


  6. about the vacations… now in sobriety i find myself thinking that a vacation is just like old times but instead of drinking i can take a vacation from AA! hahaha my mind is so twisted at times need the meetings to keep sanity!

  7. 7 Cayla

    Thank you for your great post. I really needed it. I am leaving for Hawaii in a few weeks and tonight I nearly justified drinking so in case I decide to drink in Hawaii I would NOT associate “going back out” with Hawaii. Luckily, I went to the bar tonight after work and they said they already did last call. So I went home and looked all over the house for any hidden wine of my husbands and did not find any. Then, decided it was a God thing and maybe I needed to search for something else and googled ” AA and Drinking on Vacations” and your post came up. Thank you, I will open up the Big Book and see where God leads me next.

  8. 8 C

    Hi Cayla – Sorry I’m a little late responding, but I’m glad you found this blog, and I hope you enjoyed a sober trip to Hawaii. And even if you didn’t, I also hope you found your way back on track. Thanks for reading. Take care.

  9. 9 bret

    thank you for this info, I am listening to the bubble hour and it is helping me in the first days of early recovery and not so much everyday drinking for me but just planning for my destin vacation, and my future sober life

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