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  • Writer's pictureKimberly M.

How Giving Up Alcohol Changed My Vacation

This past spring I took a one week solo vacation to Medellin, Colombia. It was the first time I’d been to the country, and I was super nervous-- not just because I didn’t know what to expect, but more so because it would be my very first adult vacation taken without including alcohol.

The previous March I’d decided to give up alcohol for awhile, with the intention of giving it up permanently. By the time the trip rolled around, I was a little over a month into my alcohol-free journey. I knew it would be a challenge because up until then, I’d always associated vacations with being able to have drinks whenever I wanted and as much as I wanted. How on earth would I make it through one whole week without even a simple glass of wine?

A virgin mojito is just as refreshing and fulfilling during a tropical vacation.

Well, much to my surprise, it was easier than I thought. Not only easier, but actually enjoyable.

By replacing my frozen margaritas with frozen lemonades and my vodka/cranberries with with soda/cranberries, not only was I more energized and completely aware 100% of the time, but I also learned quite a bit about myself and the world around me.

Here are a few ways that giving up alcohol changed my week-long solo vacation:

The days were much more fulfilling.

Without alcohol to slow me down, I was able to get up early and get much more done in one day with plenty of time left to relax. Every morning I was up with the sun, and felt fully rested to start the day and knock out the activities that I’d had planned for myself. In the evenings, I no longer had to worry about that sleepy crash that usually comes after taking back a few drinks. This was one trip where I was able to successfully accomplish (and enjoy) everything on my list and feel 100% satisfied with the trip afterwards.

The nights were more relaxing.

Previously, I’d always been concerned about the “nightlife vibe” of a destination. I needed to know exactly where the best bars and nightclubs were, and how I could spend as much time as I could out and about (because heaven forbid I waste my time actually resting my body).

However, when I wasn’t drinking, there was no point in being at the most “happening” bar or lounge. In fact, I really wasn’t interested in going out at all. After treating myself to a nice meal and dessert, I was more than happy to go home and relax in my beautiful and cozy Airbnb.

Hiking up all 750+ stairs of the rock behind me would NOT have been enjoyable (or probably not possible at all) if I had spent the prior night out drinking.

The surroundings became much more beautiful.

Without a drink in my system, everything around me became intensified: The smell and the taste of the foods around me...the intricacy of the artwork all over town...the colors of the sunset. It’s as if my five senses were all fully awakened and I was able to truly appreciate my surroundings, 100%, without the haze.

I actually lost weight.

Most people talk about gaining weight after going on vacation. My trip to Colombia was the opposite in that I actually LOST weight. By eliminating alcohol, not only had I also eliminated thousands of empty calories from my diet each day, but I now had the time, energy, and willingness to participate in more physical activities on a daily basis.

My bank account was happier.

When alcohol was eliminated from my vacation budget, it was an eyeopener as to just how wasteful it was! I finally realized just how much I used to waste my money on something that at the end of the day didn’t do anything positive for me. It was so much better knowing I had that extra cash to spend indulging on a super fancy dinner, or splurging on a massage, or buying nice souvenirs, or even better...planning the next vacation!

No alcohol meant more money (and more calorie allowance) to splurge on coffee and dessert after dinner!

I learned that I could still have fun WITHOUT alcohol.

The biggest surprise of all is that I was still able to have a blast without alcohol. I’d previously been afraid of being looked at funny or feeling awkward when everyone around me was drinking, but much to my surprise no one batted an eyelash and I was still able to enjoy myself.

One night I went to a salsa club and danced MUCH better than I ever had (and didn’t have to worry about feeling nauseated or losing my steps whenever my dance partner would spin me). Another night I went to a soccer game and was able to fully and truly enjoy the company around me instead of depending on alcohol to help me “tolerate” my surroundings. My conversations with people overall were much more engaged and interesting. And the best part of all, I didn’t waste away any of my vacation time hungover after a night of partying too hard.

Giving up alcohol certainly changed my vacation for the better. At the end of my week-long getaway, I learned that without alcohol, every single moment of my vacation was worthwhile. I left Colombia feeling stress-free, healthy, and fulfilled. I’d also overcome one of my biggest fears: The fear of “missing out” while on vacation.

If you are sober-curious or even fully aware that you need to reduce or eliminate alcohol from your life completely, I highly recommend reading the book or listening to the audiobook, This Naked Mind. Not only did this book put me on the path to get through my first alcohol-free vacation, but it forever changed my thoughts about alcohol and the place that it has in my life.


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