Back when I was a drinker, I felt the same way about traveling sober as I do about participating in Black Friday shopping insanity.  Never going happen.  Ever. 

Aha!  The joke’s on me, because not only did I quit drinking, but once I stopped stumbling around my sobriety like Bambi, I figured out that not only could I travel without drinking, it was actually infinitely better.  

Allow me to convince you why quitting drinking is the ultimate travel hack. 

1)  Getting up for 7 am flight, no problem.  Since I didn’t have a few excited cocktails the night before, I’m up when the alarm goes off, smile smugly at my prepacked bag, and it’s off to the airport with plenty of time. 

2) I arrive at the destination refreshed.  Even before I quit drinking, I realized that a few glasses of wine on the plane is the quickest way to start the trip off with a fizzle, rather than a bang.  Dehydrated.  Headache.  Puffy face.  Eww.  

3) Jet lag has nothing on me now.  After a pleasant-ish flight experience sipping virgin Bloody Mary mix, I arrive at my destination ready to tackle new adventures, not collapse in my hotel room to recover.

4) Boundless energy to actually do stuff!  A perk about quitting drinking that never gets old is a near-constant energy level all day.  No mornings that make me want to die, and if someone has a fun idea and it’s (gasp) after 8pm, I’m not halfway through a bottle of wine.  While traveling, I stay out late and still get up early, because 5-6 hours is always enough to recover from whatever I got into the day before.  

5) Don’t pass out at the pool; relax for reals. Sipping beers or fruity drinks is the ubiquitous symbol of “relaxing” while on vacation.  I’ve found that “relaxing” should actually make me feel rejuvenated, not more tired or sluggish. Now my downtime is legitimate relaxation, which doesn’t come with the price of being hungover. 

6) Spoil yourself with all the money you saved from not getting wasted!  My vacations now are actually more indulgent than when I was drinking.  Later today, I’m off on a roadtrip through Southwest Virginia.   I spent a little more on that I typically would on the hotel rooms.  When I flew home from Amsterdam recently, I splurged on Economy Premium.  None of these upgrades blew the budget, and I don’t feel guilty at all because I’ve saved thousands of dollars I would have spent on restaurant drinks and home drinking over the last two years.

7) Freedom from the preoccupation with getting ‘enough’.  If you are regular drinker (or insert whatever your vice might be), traveling can be stressful.  I’d wonder, will they have wine at the hotel?  Will they be serving when I arrive?  Did I pack my corkscrew? Ugh. So tiresome. Sure, now I smuggle several bottles of Diet Tonic in my suitcase, but it’s way less embarrassing than having to explain why I need a box of wine for a 3-day trip.  

8) Return home healthier and happier than when you left.  How often do you hear people joke that they need a vacation after returning from their vacation?  Between the traveling and the boozing, I’d need a week off to recover.   But doesn’t that defeat the point of going on the vacation in the first place? 

I’m leaving this afternoon to spend the next 4 days exploring southwest Virginia. I anticipate new experiences, laughing, spending time with my husband, eating local foods, seeing beautiful scenery, and make lovely memories.  I can’t wait.