When I was drinking, I would use alcohol as a way to ease almost every aspect of travel. It was the perfect salve for homesickness, culture shock, and the discomfort that often comes when you’re in a new place.

I also used drinking to help make new friends, feel a false sense of freedom, and have an excuse to sit in a bar and people watch.

Now, as a sober person, I’m looking for new ways to approach the challenges and discomfort of travel. I also want to find ways to enjoy new places without needing to have a drink to make everything more “shiny.”

Travel is not the only situation that challenges our sobriety, but it’s a unique issue that we must address as we navigate new sober terrain.

Besides, at this point, I really don’t have anything in common with people who are heavy drinkers. This is not to say that I reject people who drink a bit, just that I can’t be around people who prioritize alcohol over everything else.

Here are some ideas that I’ll be exploring in the next few months:

  • Find groups that identify as sober.

I’m not sure if they exist here, but I’ll be putting out the feelers to see if they do. Many sober people know that we need to find each other for a good reason. With that said, I’ll be googling Facebook groups or checking for postings in hostels or places where travelers go for information.

  • Make your own sober Facebook group.

If I can’t find any sober resources, then I might consider creating my own group for sober foreigners. This requires work and upkeep on my part, but it might be a great way to pave a trail for myself and others.

The only thing I worry about is that it might alienate people who are light drinkers and with whom I’d still love to meet. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone enjoys getting obliterated, and so I’d still like to meet people even though they may drink lightly.

  • Consider meeting people through activities where they’re less likely to drink heavily.

A few years ago, I went on a bird-watching trip to Panama and met some truly remarkable people who did not prioritize alcohol at all. Birders don’t seem as preoccupied with getting drunk at night. This is because they’d much rather get to sleep early and wake up before sunrise to catch the best birds early in the morning.

This works out well for us because although we may not be serious birders, we really enjoy bird-watching and hiking through remote trails to find wildlife. And we’re in a fantastic place known for its biodiversity.

Hopefully, we can meet people who prioritize their health and energy, because you really need this if you want to appreciate the environment you’re traveling in.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be looking for groups who are serious about wildlife viewing. I can’t say for sure that they won’t be heavy drinkers, but I’m sure some of them will not see alcohol as their only priority.

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