I believe the desire to travel and explore is inherent to most of us. From a spiritual standpoint, it’s as though we want to experience firsthand our inner unity, despite all the seeming evidence to the contrary presented to us by our heavily influenced media, whose aim is to divide us by fear.
Every travel experience has been crucial to my personal evolution. My earliest travel memories were influential, but I can only imagine how much more insight I would have gained had I been sober. Guatemala, with its spiritual Mayan people and serenity inducing landscapes, is one of the most amazing places I’ve ever been. Yet I wasted a good 2 or 3 days of my trip just sleeping in a hotel room, hung-over. I still recall the guilt and shame, and it still pains me to know that I’ll never get those days back.
So what about travel in sobriety? One reason I got sober was the hope that I would finally be able to live my dreams. Alcohol and drugs kept me prisoner for years, and although I’d often make a sincere start towards said dreams, those efforts were always short-lived. My drinking took priority over everything. Travel has always been an important aspect of my dreams, so naturally that’s one of the first things I wanted to do when I got sober.
At just 6 months sober, I went on a study abroad trip to Spain. I was armed with all the tools I needed to sustain my recovery, or so I thought.
My honest intention was to stay sober. I cherished the newfound peace that the sober life offered me. Yet once there, surrounded by my peers who were drinking, surrounded by Spaniards who drank with every meal, I began to feel like an oddball. Once again, that old “out of place” feeling crept back in and I felt further and further away from God.
One night, trying to fit in with my peers by hanging out in bars and clubs, I almost relapsed. A friend, who knew I didn’t drink alcohol, brought me a drink and told me it was just fruit juice. I took a few sips. I told myself, I think there’s alcohol in this, I am going to just go get drunk since I’ve already relapsed. This is where I believe God stepped in. I just so happened to voice my insane thought to my roommate, the only person I’d told I was in recovery, and whose father had died from the disease of alcoholism. She told me, “Wow, I guess you really are an alcoholic. That’s like someone on a diet eating one bite of chocolate cake and then deciding to eat the entire thing.” I immediately woke up from the illusion my disease was stirring up in my mind and went back to my hostel stone cold sober.
That situation reminded me just how deceiving the disease is because it manifests itself as your own thoughts. It also reminded me to stay true to myself. There was no need to try to please my peers or fit in by hanging out in those places.
Travel still plays a big part in my dreams for the future, and when I lose sight of my dreams I feel lost. So I still try to travel whenever I have the chance. I travel differently now than I did when I had 6 months sober. I go on the adventures that people do sober. I don’t spend time in bars or clubs, simply because I don’t enjoy that atmosphere anymore. I cherish my sobriety today. I don’t take it lightly, as I did when I was newer. I know how quickly it can disappear, by acting on one insane thought. So today I am very aware of what I put in my body. I don’t risk letting someone bring me drinks, even if they are well intentioned. I’m not willing to give this gift up today. I know if I keep my sobriety first, I will get to see the world.
Safe and sober travels!