Well, of course recovery never really takes a vacation but recovering people do.
Going to meetings while traveling is one of the smartest things we can do. It’s not just that we get to stay sober or abstinent longer and better, but vacations get better the longer we are in recovery.
One advantage of vacation recovery is that we learn to stress less about the “stuff” of travel. One of the best pieces of vacation advice I ever received from a sponsor is that “The trip begins when you are packing.” I used to be so miserable all through the process of getting to the place where I was going to be having my vacation that the car ride and the airport and the hotel check-in were miserable--for me and everyone around me. I wanted to get to the vacation place because I thought that that’s when my adventure would begin. But that’s not true. Listen to the stories people tell about their favorite trips…it always includes the taxi and the airport and the jitney and …
So, I began to shift my attitude to say to myself, “This too is part of the vacation adventure”, then it became true and I began to have more fun. I was then able to look for the good in the delayed flight, and the funny staff, and the weird taxi driver and the odd meal.
But the other reason that vacations get better as your recovery gets longer is that those of us in 12 step programs have an amazing resource that other travelers don’t have: We have helpful contacts in every city and town in the world.
One of the best kept secrets is that people in twelve-step programs have instant travel assistance and access to great tourist advice any where we go.
Over the years I have been to meetings all over the United States and in France, Germany, Poland, Italy, England, The Czech Republic and Bermuda. I've gotten directions, restaurant advice, suggestions on local sites, invites to performances, guidance on public transportation, sometimes rides and always smiles, encouragement and patience with the language barrier.
There is something so fun and smart about asking a new twelve-step group for suggestions about where to eat, what to do, the best way to drive to the next city etc. I’ve been tipped off to bargain shopping, fabulous inexpensive restaurants, and the places to avoid. We don’t need a guidebook to tell us where the locals eat or shop—we have local “family” that we can ask. This is where AA and AAA meet up and it is such a bonus.
One of the coolest things that happened to me recently was on a trip to Chicago. I love Chicago—art, music, beach, river, architecture, shopping and the food!
On my recent trip I checked the Chicago AA directory before I left home and, because it’s a big city, I put in the address of my hotel and clicked the button that said “One-mile distance to meetings” hoping to be able to walk to a few.
To my surprise there were several choices less than a mile from my hotel, and crazy surprise—when I looked closer, the address of the meetings was the very same address as my hotel! Was it possible?
Turns out it was true. When I arrived, I asked the concierge about the location of meetings and he directed me to a beautiful conference room on the lower level of the hotel where there was a daily AA meeting. Go figure, and Go Gratitude!
It also gives you just a clue about how big our fellowship is, and just how acceptable and normal it is to ask about AA just as you might ask where the nearest sushi place or nail salon might be.
When you travel with recovery you learn that twelve-step principles prevail regardless of location, politics or language.
Read more about long-term recovery in "Out of the Woods" published by Central Recovery Press: