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Tips for a Successful Sober Road Trip

By Wesley Gallagher

Whether it’s summer vacation, fall or spring break, or you’re traveling for the holidays, there’s nothing like heading out into the great unknown. Road trips promise adventure just over the horizon. For many, the idea is exciting and enticing. However, for others, especially those in recovery, the idea of the unknown can produce anxiety.

Fortunately, there are preparations you can take to ensure that any trip you take will be full of sober fun and excitement. Read on for tools you can bring along for the ride to make sure you feel comfortable and supported wherever your travels take you.

Use Your Car Time Wisely

Road trip friendsRoad trips involve a lot of time in the car, which means a lot of free time for your mind to wander. Time to ponder the deep things of life might be just what you need, but it’s wise to have some resources on hand to keep you grounded in your sobriety as you leave your daily routine behind.

If you’re looking for some help guiding your thoughts, check out these recovery-focused podcasts:

  • Recovery Unscripted -This Foundations Recovery Network podcast, with a mission to provide education and inspiration by sharing valuable insights and powerful stories, brings unique perspectives from the world of addiction and mental health recovery. Hosted by David Condos, each episode covers a relevant topic through conversations with clinicians, therapists and leaders of the recovery community.1
  • That Sober Guy – This podcast, hosted by Shane Ramer, who is in recovery, focuses on positive, healthy sober living. He is dedicated to bringing awareness to mental health, addiction and substance abuse.2
  • Recovery Elevator – Paul Churchill is a recovering alcoholic who shares on this podcast his struggles, triumphs and lessons learned in recovery. He invites his listeners to join him on his journey, reminding them that they are not alone.3
  • Light Hustler – Hosted by Anna David, this podcast features stories and interviews with actors, writers, comedians, musicians and others about addiction, sobriety, recovery and mental health, as people share their dark to find their light.4
  • The SHAIR Podcast – Omar Pinto is an addiction specialist, recovery life coach and motivational speaker who hosts this podcast. His goal is to help you find the joy in recovery and destroy bad habits and teach you how to achieve your dreams and life goals by showcasing recovery success stories.5

Shane Ramer

Want to hear more about the healing power of sharing recovery stories through podcasts? Listen to the full interview  with Shane Ramer on the Recovery Unscripted podcast.

If you’re looking for a soundtrack you can sing along to, here are some artists who have been vocal about their own recovery journeys:

  • Steven Tyler of Aerosmith is open about his recovery, and has even spoken at drug court graduations where he encourages people to keep going to meetings and fight daily for their recovery.6
  • Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac recovered from addiction to cocaine and later an addiction to Klonopin, and she has been sober for several years.7
  • Eric Clapton struggled with addiction to heroin, alcohol and cocaine over many years at the height of his career in rock ‘n’ roll, as evidenced by his hit song “Cocaine.” He is now in recovery and in a new, sober phase of his career and life.8
  • Eminem’s album Recovery focuses on addiction and his struggle to overcome his addiction, which included several prescription medications.9
  • David Bowie inspired Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails to get sober when they toured together several years ago.10
  • Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Peppers wrote all about his life of addiction in his autobiography Scar Tissue and continues to be open about his addiction as well as his recovery.11

Other Ways to Travel Wisely

Here are some other things to keep in mind while planning your next vacation:

  • Choose your location wisely. Pick places that are known more for their culture and culinary creations than their party potential. Avoid Spring Break hot spots or drinking and gambling epicenters like Las Vegas and New Orleans. By steering clear of such places, you’ll limit temptation and contact with inebriated vacationers.
  • Don’t go all in. Avoid all-inclusive resorts, which often attract visitors looking to drink a lot for free. Prices usually include alcohol anyway, so you don’t want to feel like you’re wasting money by not partaking. Instead, choose family-friendly destinations with fun activities you can enjoy sober, like hiking areas or theme parks. Renting a home or room from sites like Airbnb or Homeaway is another great choice, offering a private place to stay where you can control what (and who) surrounds you.
  • Pick a pal to travel with you. If you decide to travel with a companion, make sure it’s someone who is in recovery too or who understands and respects the importance of your recovery. Think about whether you’re ready to travel alone, as too much time in your own head may make you vulnerable to intrusive thoughts or feelings of isolation.
  • Pack with care. Take reminders of your sobriety along with you, such as an AA chip, a sobriety gift or a picture of loved ones who care about your sobriety. Bring a book with you that is helpful and inspiring for recovery that you can pick up when you need a pick-me-up.
  • Stay with the program. If you find yourself struggling on the road, find a fellowship meeting near you and go. It’s worth the awkwardness of attending a new meeting to keep your sobriety on course. If you can’t find a meeting, join an online meeting or listen to one of the podcasts listed above.

With these tools in your arsenal, you’ll set yourself up for fun and success on your next road trip.


1 Foundations Recovery Network. Recovery Unscripted., Accessed June 8, 2018.

2 Ramer, Shane. That Sober Guy., Accessed June 8, 2018.

3 Churchill, Paul. Recovery Elevator. Accessed June 8, 2018.

4 David, Anna. Light Hustler., Accessed June 8, 2018.

5 Pinto, Omar. The SHAIR Podcast., Accessed June 8, 2018.

6Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler Encourages Maui Drug Court Graduates.” Billboard, October 19, 2014.

7 Brown, Mick. “Stevie Nicks: A Survivor’s Story.” The Telegraph, September 8, 2007.

8Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘N’ Roll: Clapton After ‘Cocaine.’” All Things Considered, October 18, 2007.

9 Eells, Josh. “Eminem: On the Road Back From Hell.” Rolling Stone, October 17, 2011.

10 Reznor, Trent. “Trent Reznor Recalls How David Bowie Helped Him Get Sober.” Rolling Stone, January 26, 2016.

11 Bryant, Tom. “Thinking Out Loud: Anthony Kiedis.” Louder, May 21, 2016.

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