How to Take Your First Sober Vacation

February 17, 2024

Meet Suzanne

Suzanne is the host of the popular sobriety podcast, The Sober Mom Life, and is also a sobriety and lifestyle influencer at My Kind of Sweet. Suzanne quit drinking more than 4 years ago and has found freedom from moderation, a message she proudly shares with the world. When she's not glamorizing sobriety, Suzanne enjoys spending her time with her 3 kids, her husband, and her dog, Georgia, all while reheating her coffee, until she eventually forgets it in the microwave.

Spring break is coming up, and if you’re newly sober, you might be feeling anxious about it all. I get it! This whole living life without alcohol thing is new to you. The good news? You’re not alone. I’m here to help you navigate your first sober vacation.

When I was in my first year of sobriety, I focused on crossing as many Sober Firsts off my list as I could. I was never a day-counter. For me, counting days felt punitive and put the focus on alcohol. I didn’t want to bring alcohol or its shadow into my sobriety. I wanted to create something completely new. That’s when my idea of counting Sober Firsts, rather than days, was born.

A Sober First is something you’re experiencing without alcohol for the first time. I know. It’s in the name. But, here’s the trick: Make a list of all the Sober Firsts you want to experience in your first year of sobriety. (Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

Is sober vacation on your list? Good. You’re in the right place.

As I write this, I’m 6 days into our annual winter week vacation in Florida. It’s 6am. The kids are sleeping. I have hot coffee. I’m sitting on the balcony of our rental home. The outside air doesn’t hurt my face like it does at home. Life is good.

I’ve done this trip with alcohol, and I’ve experienced it now 5 times without alcohol. The results are in: sober vacation is better. (Yes, for real.) If you’re following along on Instagram, you’ve seen snapshots of my time here: my feet in the sand, my kids and husband playing on the beach, the gorgeous sunsets each night. (If you missed them, head to the Sober Vacay highlight!) “Sure,” you might be thinking. “That’s great. But…HOW?” Well, here’s how to take your first sober vacation….

(I make commission off the links in this post.)

Yes, it means both. Click here to shop my mug.

The Growing Trend of Sober Tourism

First, let’s zoom out and look at the growing trend of sober travel. As we collectively open our eyes to the dangers of alcohol, the demand for alcohol-free vacations is on the rise. It’s understandable, right? Once you’ve given yourself a chance to see that alcohol was never the magic, it makes sense to extend that to vacation. Ahhh, the idea of not letting alcohol in to wreak havoc as you enjoy the life under the sun? Well that’s the ultimate in relaxation and adventure. And if you look, you can see that sober vacations are available more and more. Companies like We Love Lucid and Sober Vacations International are among the growing trend of sober travel. Sobriety is a lifestyle choice, and no longer reserved for “alcoholics.” (Don’t get me started.)

Tips for Taking Your First Sober Vacation

Chances are, you’ve never taken a sober vacation. (And, as I always say, pregnancy doesn’t count.) If you began drinking at 21 (or earlier, as probably most of us did), then I’m going to assume you’ve invited alcohol to every vacation you’ve taken. You’re not alone in this, of course. We’ve been tricked into believing that Pina Coladas are a prerequisite and margaritas are mandatory for fun under the sun. I spent a few decades believing that, and actually, it wasn’t until I took a giant leap of faith and experienced my very first sober vacation that everything I thought I knew began to crumble, and a greater knowing was exposed.

Alcohol hadn’t added anything to my vacations. Instead, it had taken. And taken and taken.

Here are a few tips for taking your first sober vacation…

Not much in this world makes me happier than reading a book under the sun. My Kindle is a must-have for travel.

Changing Your Habits and Shift Your Mindset

When you invite alcohol on your vacations, it tends to take over. It can become the focus. After all, alcohol is a nasty, selfish little asshole like that. It steals the show, whether you like it or not. Without even realizing it, you might begin to plan your trip around alcohol – making plans for morning mimosas, midday beers or evening reds. As you explore vacation without alcohol, it’s time to shake things up.

Rather than focusing on alcohol, you’re going to get curious. How does it feel to be fully present on vacation? What do you notice? How do you feel?

You might realize that you sleep better, and you can enjoy mornings. On my first sober vacation, I decided to focus on my morning beach run. I traded in my glass (or three) of red wine at night for salty ocean air, an empty beach and a whole lot of endorphins. After a few mornings, it became my new ritual, one that I continue to this day. That small shift from focusing on evenings to looking forward to my sacred early mornings made the whole difference for me on that first vacation.

(You can read more about my first sober vacation and my morning beach runs in this post.)

One of my favorite things about sobriety is I get to reconnect with myself and remember what I love doing. For me, reading a book by the pool is very high up on that list.

What’s on your list? If you have trouble coming up with something that doesn’t involve alcohol, think of your childhood. What did you enjoy doing before alcohol came into the picture? Use that as your guide.

By creating new habits that you actually enjoy and filling in the gaps alcohol leaves behind, you’re able to shift your mindset ever so slightly. Rather than missing out by passing on alcohol, you are allowing yourself to fully enjoy your vacation. Drinking alcohol? That’s missing out. Literally.

Explore New Activities

When we’re drinking, we assume that everything fun involves alcohol. I’m here to tell you: that’s a big ol’ lie and a huge way that alcohol keeps us stuck. Not to mention the fallacy that drinking alcohol is FUN. Only when you quit drinking do you realize how false that is. (No, for real. Be the only sober person in a room of people who are in their cups and you will see clearly that alcohol does NOT equal fun. Or, if that feels too sketchy for you, just watch an episode of old school RHONY or Below Deck.)

As you plan for your first sober vacation, it’s time to explore new, non-drinking activities. Change it up! If you’re going on a beach vacation, search for deep sea fishing expeditions, kayaking or snorkeling. One of my favorite vacation memories is in Grand Cayman. My husband and I snorkeled along Seven Mile beach, hopped on a boat to Stingray City, and kissed a stingray. Those are memories I will cherish forever, and alcohol was nowhere in sight.

Maybe you love yoga and are looking for a yoga retreat. I love the idea of focusing on health and wellness on vacation, so when I come home I actually feel rested and ready to get back into my daily life. There is nothing worse than feeling like I need a vacation after my vacation. (Spoiler: alcohol plays a huge role in stealing your vacation from you.)

Or, maybe it can be simple. We have had hours of laughs playing Uno or Go Fish with the kids, and just last night we did the Family Opera challenge. I swear, I laughed so hard I almost peed my pants. (3 kids, you know?)

When you think back to your own vacations, which favorite memories stick out to you? Do they involve alcohol? Probably not. Make more alcohol-free memories and use them to propel you to keep going in sobriety.

Tips for Dining Out and Staying On Track

My biggest tip for dining out (and really anything in sobriety) is to DECIDE. You are going to decide, before your butt hits that restaurant chair, that you will choose yourself over alcohol. That means, of course, deciding what you’re going to drink instead.

Non-Alcoholic Drink Options

There is so much variety in sobriety! No longer are you going to drink the same drink, over and over, into oblivion. (How boring does that sound??) Try a fun mocktail. If they don’t have non-alcoholic drinks on the menu, ask the waiter to have the bartender make you a fun one. My go-to when I’m dining out is a Spicy Virgin Mojito. It’s not too sweet, with just the right amount of spice and sour. YUM.

If you’re looking for more mocktail ideas, CLICK HERE for my No Ethanol Needed Mocktail E book! In it I share 21 of my favorite mocktails.

How to Overcome Challenges

Remember – this is a long game. There is no pass/fail, win/lose when you’re examining your relationship with alcohol. Change takes time, and I’m so proud of you for choosing to figure out what alcohol is and how you’ve used it in your life. That’s the bravest thing you can do.

Also, even on sober vacation, life is still going life. Shit is going to go wrong. Not everything is going to be perfect (especially when kids are involved).

If you’ve been around here for awhile, you might remember my AirPod saga of last year’s beach vacation, when I mistakenly ground up my AirPod in the garbage disposal. (Yes, you read that right.) It was a definite “Oh, shit!” moment, but it struck me right away that, although I had regret about not slowing down enough when I was cleaning the kitchen to realize I was about to sacrifice my beloved listening device to the metal devil, I had zero shame about it. Sure, it was a silly, mindless move. I felt guilty that I would be hopping on Amazon in less than 2 minutes to order yet another replacement pair. But, there was no shame. I made a mistake. I wasn’t bad. If alcohol had been involved, though? Well, that would be an entirely different story. Alcohol brings with it a huge dose of shame, and this would be a shameful moment that would hop into my suitcase and come home with me.

Community is key in sobriety, especially as you’re navigating Sober Firsts. I created The Sober Mom Life Community and The Sober Mom Life Cafe for this exact reason. No matter the level of support you need, we have something for you.

Unique Sober Vacation Spots to Add to Your List

The list of sober vacation spots is endless, but here are a few of my favorites, along with a few that are on my To Visit list:

  • Grand Cayman (kiss those stingrays!)
  • Joshua Tree, CA
  • The Maldives
  • Costa Rica
  • Portugal
  • Miraval in Tucson, AZ The Mister and I have been going to Miraval for years and I took my mom there for her 70th birthday last year. (You can read all about my Miraval trips here.) A note about Miraval – there is alcohol everywhere, so I would not recommend it in early sobriety. I love it for their spa experiences and health and wellness activities, but they have a huge blind spot when it comes to alcohol. Canyon Ranch might be a better option if you’re newly sober.

What’s on your list? Would love to hear from you in the comments!

If you enjoy listening to podcasts, I highly recommend…mine! In an episode of The Sober Mom Life, I shared my Guide to Your First Sober Vacation. It’s very similar to what I share in this post, but you get to hear my dulcet tones. (That’s a joke.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More Episodes You'll Love:

Sober Mom Life

  • Bonus podcast episodes, including the Sunday Check In
  • 9 weekly Zoom Peer Support meetings
  • Monthly Quit Lit Book Club meeting
  • Access to our exclusive community


Sober Mom Life Cafe

Join the

  • Weekly Peer Support meeting
  • Monthly Quit Lit Book Club meeting
  • Access to our exclusive community


Sober Mom Life Community

Get in Touch


we'll get back to you asap!

Join the Sober Mom Life Facebook Group

Join 60,000 moms just like you who are questioning and examining their relationship with alcohol in the most supportive corner of the Internet.

join the group