Is going on holiday and not drinking really a holiday?

Holidays for me are all about new experiences, relaxation and shrugging off the shackles of everyday life.

And, of course, if you’re shrugging off shackles, you have to do so with a drink in hand. Right?

Wine with lunch – why not? Sundowners by the pool – bring it on. Late nights sampling the local tipple – pour me another.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t spend holidays drinking from sunrise to the following day’s sunrise, although there may have been occasions back in my younger backpacking days when that was certainly the case.

For me a good holiday is part activity, part relaxation. It’s about exploring the local area, trying new activities and soaking up the local culture. Then after a day of exploring, it’s about relaxing with a cocktail by the pool or a great meal with local wine.

So when I chose to go alcohol free I worried that holidays just wouldn’t be the same. I was concerned that the fun and relaxation that I equated with drinking would be sacrificed in the name of living my healthier, alcohol-free life.

I thought: “Is going on holiday and not drinking really a holiday?”

Well, a few holidays into my alcohol-free life I can say not only is it very possible to holiday without alcohol, it actually enhances the experience.

Here’s my three tips for an alcohol-free holiday:

Enjoy a drink – just make it alcohol-free

For destinations that are just a drive away, I pack my favourite non-alcoholic drinks.

I recently went away with a friend to celebrate her milestone birthday. She brought her champagne and I brought my alcohol-free bubbly (Live Light Sparkling and Rose from Sans Drinks).

We also went out to cafes and restaurants and most places either had mocktails on their drinks list or were happy to make one for me.

If there were no alcohol-free options I chose a tonic and lime, which is one of my favourite drinks and is perfect for sipping in the sun while watching the waves roll in.

Ask yourself – is it the situation or the drink?

When I started to ask myself whether alcohol was really key to relaxing on holidays, I began to realise (and not for the first time) that I was attributing a lot of power to alcohol that really was not justified.

One of my first holidays without drinking involved a three-day sailing trip in the Whitsunday Islands near Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.

It is a spectacular location and sailing the area on a large catamaran, skippered by someone else thankfully, was truly magical.

Every night we had sundowner drinks on deck. We all brought our own drinks on board so I packed some alcohol-free pre-mix drinks (Lyre’s pre-mixes are one of my faves).

Chatting to my fellow travellers while watching the sun set and being in awe of the amazing location in which we were anchored was everything I wanted from a holiday – new experiences, meeting new people and taking a break from the stresses of life.

It turned out that what was in my drink didn’t matter.

Plan to enjoy your mornings

Whether you like your holidays action packed or prefer to slow down during your break, hangover-free mornings will give you extra hours in your day to really get the most out of your holiday.

I can’t count the number of mornings on holidays when I’ve woken up after a big night of drinking feeling like crap and wanting to pull the covers up for a couple of extra hours of sleep to make me feel better.

I’ve gone on long walks through a new city feeling hungover, not really appreciating the sights and sounds of a new location because I’ve felt so dreadful and annoyed at myself for drinking too much the night before.

I wouldn’t consider early morning activities because I knew I would need to ease myself into the day rather than commit to anything involving sunrises or any level of exertion.

Now I can go for long walks to see the sunrise over the ocean or go out for day-long trips on a boat without worrying that my ‘seasickness’ (aka hangover) will make such an endeavour unbearable.

And if I choose to have a mocktail or alcohol-free wine at lunch, instead of feeling like an afternoon nap, I’ll be full of energy to take on the rest of the day.

That was the biggest eye-opener for me with alcohol-free holidays.

I actually had more time to enjoy the holiday and to savour every part of it.

And, all the things I attributed to alcohol – helping me to relax, have fun and enjoy the experience – were all due to being on holidays and doing fun and relaxing things. They had nothing to do with alcohol which I began to realise had actually hampered my holidays in the past.

So, if you’re worried about an upcoming holiday and want to stay alcohol free, I promise that you can not only do this but that you will probably have a better time.

Bon voyage!

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