Whether traveling for business or for pleasure, maintaining wellness while traveling can be challenging, especially for those in recovery from a mental health issue or an addiction related issue. Whether new to recovery or not, being out of one’s comfort zone while traveling comes with its own host of triggers and threats to one’s wellness that may not arise during the course of normal day-to-day life. In this article we take you through some of those challenges and present tips for maintaining recovery during times of travel, and you don’t have to bring your therapist or recovery coach along.
Traveling can bring up negative feelings such as anxiety or sadness, even for a regular traveler. Leaving family or other loved ones behind, change of regular routine, stress of packing, time zone changes, jet lag, sleep deprivation, dealing with luggage and airports, and let’s not forget about the plane ride itself. Airports and airplanes are practically built for drinking alcohol – you have time to drink, access to alcohol, and nerves to calm. If the trip is for pleasure, even more reasons to drink alcohol. Or if the trip is for business, there is a likelihood that there may be some martini-lunches and whiskey-fueled business meetings. No matter what the situation or circumstance, being aware and prepared for such challenges is key.
In order to be best prepared, think through each day of your trip in detail in advance. What challenges or stressors might you face? Who will you be with? What types of environments will you be in? What do you need to bring with you? If you are seeing a therapist or recovery coach, talk these concerns through with them prior to your trip. The more prepared you are for each situation, the better. For example, if the act of traveling itself is triggering for you, make sure you leave yourself the appropriate amount of time to get to the airport and have a plan in place while you’re at the airport such as having a good book to read, podcast to listen to, or work to get done. Have some stress reduction techniques in place, which are discussed below.
Another way to be best prepared is to be mindful of your hotel. For example, if fitness is part of your wellness regiment find a hotel that has a good gym. Being thrown off of routine is one of the most difficult parts of traveling for people in recovery, so try to find a hotel that can best accommodate and support your needs. If you are sober and worried about relapsing on alcohol during your trip, don’t hesitate to ask the hotel to remove alcohol from your mini-bar before you arrive. Check out restaurants in and around the hotel in advance so that you can continue to follow your meal-plan if nutrition is an important part of your recovery. You may also want to find a hotel that is not right in the center of the city’s night life. Being mindful of such challenges will help you during your trip.
In preparation, it is also important that you have learned strategies and techniques to cope with mental health issues such as stress, anxiety and depression. If alcohol, drugs, or other addictions are a concern, it is important that you have relapse prevention skills in place. These are all strategies that can be learned with a therapist or recovery coach. For example, a therapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy may teach you skills to change irrational thoughts that may arise during your trip. Or a therapist specializing in behavioral therapy may help you change unhealthy behaviors and strategize how to sustain them during your trip. Therapists and coaches can also help teach you meditation, breathwork, mindfulness and other techniques to help reduce mental health challenges. Additionally, if you are currently seeing a therapist or recovery coach, many of them offer teletherapy or telecoaching services to allow you to have continued support throughout your trip, all at your fingertips. Furthermore, it is helpful if you have a support network in place, even if it is one person, who you can call or text when issues arise to receive support, guidance and accountability.
Lastly, and most importantly, make sure that you’re stable enough to travel. If you are new to recovery, or if you are very concerned about your mental health and/or sobriety/recovery during your trip, you may want to explore the option of hiring a Recovery Companion. A Recovery Companion is a trained and experienced professional who will travel with you to offer support and guidance during your trip. Recovery Companions can be hired on a long- or short- term basis, be it for a day trip or a longer week-long trip. Recovery Companions are offered through our firm, Family Addiction Specialist, as well as therapists and recovery coaches who offer teletherapy and telecoaching services. Your Manhattan therapist can be at your fingertips in times of crisis.
For more information or to inquire about our private concierge services please contact our undisclosed therapy office location in the Upper East Side of New York City today at (929) 220-2912.