The Best Sober Vacations to Take This Summer

best sober vacations palm trees island

It doesn’t have to be a temptation island… A secret hideaway in Puerto Rico.


Vacations are good for the body and soul, right? For those in recovery, the answer can be yes and no. The fact is vacations (even well-deserved vacations) can be stressful to folks in recovery. And when there’s a boat party on every sandbar or a history of overindulging on past vacations, a holiday can be downright dangerous to the sober sojourner.


The Good News About Sober Vacations

This doesn’t mean you have to stay home and play tiddlywinks. And vacations can be just what the doctor/addiction therapist ordered after navigating COVID-19. It does mean however, that you should plan ahead and create a schedule for the time you will be away. You should also consider your destination and vacation partners carefully.


Scheduling and planning vacation time? That doesn’t sound like fun – it doesn’t even sound like a vacation.


The definition of vacation is, “an extended period of leisure and recreation; especially one spent away from home or in traveling.” Vacation is not defined as a free-for-all, so let’s get that out of our heads. The good news is that sober vacations without drugs and strong drinks with umbrellas are:

  • Less dangerous or accident prone
  • Less expensive
  • More energetic
  • Happier (no late-night drama or pratfalls into the pool)
  • And more in-the-moment and appreciated


But vacations also mean you will be away from familiar 12-step meetings, recovery routines and escape plans. So, pre-planning and control is a good idea. You do not want to end up on a party boat cruise or someplace that makes you uncomfortable or vulnerable.


Here’s why the best sober vacations enhance recovery…

Islands in the Sun

best sober vacations blue water

Blue represents introspective journeys and symbolizes wisdom and depth of understanding. Current Island, The Bahamas.


An island getaway is actually a great place for a sober vacation when you define “vacation” properly. Sunrise strolls, hiking, snorkeling, hitting the straw market and wholesale jewelry stores, and sightseeing are all great sober activities in the islands. And if you have access to a boat, snorkeling is the perfect exercise for folks in recovery. Water in the face, rigorous exercise, exquisite scenery and early to bed. Make sure to pack the cooler with sparkling water and go!

You will be proud of your prowess and overwhelmed by unfettered views of blue! 


Educational Getaways

sober vacation exercise like steps at Vatican

Who’s up for a climb?


If you’ve always wanted to see the Vatican, get the lay of the Sleeping Bear Dunes or sit quietly on the banks of Loch Ness, now is the time. And with a clear head, excellent balance, and stamina the experience can be greatly enhanced. You will actually visit the visitor center, lead the charge up 320 Vatican steps and research Nessie sightings before you arrive in the Highlands.

Aren’t you clever? Repairing brain function and living in the moment – and BTW the Michigan dunes were created by glaciers during the Ice Age!!


Sober Yoga & Spa Retreats

Speaking of brains, this is a no brainer. When you are with a community that is passionate about wellness, fitness or mindfulness you do not have to explain why you’re not ordering a Mai Tai at lunch. The best sober vacations renew the mind, body and spirit and there are so many options for a healthy retreat vacation. In fact, many spas do not serve alcohol and have 12-step meetings on site.


doing yoga on lawn sober vacation


Flood all the senses and commune with others who value mindfulness...


Museum & Gallery Sober Vacations

Take a long weekend staycation and visit every museum in your town and (if you don’t live in a big city) surrounding towns! You will be amazed by how many options present themselves. New York has MOMA, but also the Museum of Ice-cream, And near Grand Rapids? We have everything from Frederick Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park to the Bruce Dice Mineralogical Museum.

The slogan for the Grand Rapids Public Museum is “be curious”. So, be curious.


Guided Tours, Camps & Trying Something New

At Sanford, we’ve all heard of equine therapy, but can you see yourself herding cattle on a dude ranch? Stretch your imagination and think of all the things you’ve never tried (but would love to try). Learn to play third base or row a skiff. Hike the Grand Canyon, camp in Copper Harbor or bike through the Cotswolds.


horse ranch horses eating


It doesn’t have to be dangerous or expensive – it might be a guided birding tour. And when you do something that has a guide or instructor, they will take you seriously. And you will have accountability as well as boatloads of fun. Which reminds me, I’d like to go to sailing camp…

Widening the path of recovery with exciting activities and passionate involvement. 

Vacations and Sobriety

When you think about it, vacations are for the sober. We get up refreshed, early and ready to experience the day. In the past year and a half, we have certainly learned to live in the moment, curious and passionate about our interests. And we are unencumbered by the need to pack or find our substance of use on a remote island, backwoods village or camelback excursion. We have done the kind of inner searching that illuminates what we want out of life. And what we don’t want.


So, fear not the sober vacation – especially if you are vaccinated. With proper planning, risk avoidance and the right destination and company, you can literally have the time of your life! And after all we’ve been through, you deserve it. Remember to pack a mask, review any possible restrictions/regulations in your vacation destination, and join the dance of life.


after marilyn head shot bio

Marilyn Spiller is a viral writer, recovery coach, and recovery advocate. She is the Marketing Director at Sanford, responsible for written and creative content, website design, new media, promotions, subscriber outreach, and SEO. Excursions Magazine is a particular source of pride; it serves a wide range of readers, and “excursion” has become part of the company vernacular, describing Sanford’s signature experiential outings for those in treatment. She also developed and hosts the podcast Anatomy of Addiction and is Vice President of the Board of JACK Mental Health Advocacy.