5 Ways to Maintain Your Serenity When Traveling for Business in Recovery

Traveling for business during recovery doesn’t have to derail your serenity. The idea of going and leaving your support network, home-group, family, and friends behind while you fly off for business can indeed create stress.

When you were drinking, you might have looked forward to business trips. Perhaps alcohol made the flight more bearable and loosened you up. Networking may have taken place at local pubs and happy hours. Maybe you would look forward to drinking with old friends, or making new acquaintances while enjoying a beer. 

Mid-afternoon business lunches fueled with cocktails helped you unwind and talk up new clients? Happy hours in new towns might have been a breath of fresh air compared to the ritual and routine of your home city.  

Now that you are sober, it’s natural to be reluctant to travel for business, especially in early recovery. 

Now that you’re sober, it’s easy to fear these triggers that threaten your sobriety. Business travel can challenge your routine for recovery.  Nonetheless, business travel isn’t a mandate to drink.

Keep reading to learn 5 tips to help you stay sober when traveling for business. 

1. Plan your itinerary carefully when traveling for business in recovery

With a little planning and foresight, you can minimize the risk. Take some time to prepare your itinerary with your recovery coach and maximize the chances of enjoying yourself. Preparation is 95% of your recovery. You can use this trip to strengthen your confidence and your recovery.

It's tempting to limit the duration of a business trip.  After all, why leave your recovery support for two days when you can schedule all your work in one? Proper planning reduces stress. When prepping, consider the time spent to reach the airport, waiting for your flight, the flight itself (sans delays), and doing it all over again to get home. Is flying, ever, a quick and straightforward experience?  

A 16-hour day creates stress and exhaustion.  Instead of cramming all of your business into one day, space your meetings out. Take some time to discover fellow journeyers in recovery, attend support group meetings in the city you are visiting, or catch up with non-drinking old friends while you are in a familiar town.

When you are planning for business travel during recovery, slow down, take in the sights, and relax. Reduce your stress by preparing for your business trip with relaxation in mind. Doing this will allow you to minimize the strain of traveling.

2. Research sober activities and city attractions when traveling for business in recovery 

Don’t wait until you arrive to figure out how to spend your free time.  95% of recovery is about proper planning. When you have a plan for recovery, you will never have to guess about what you need to do next. Alternatively, know what to do when situations that are dangerous to your recovery arise.

You don’t have to fill every moment in advance, but it is wise to have planned some activities. Know where you can attend meetings close to your hotel.  Do a Google search for events in the area such as art exhibits, theater, live music, and if the hometown sports team is playing in town. 

Perhaps a lecture or recovery event is happening during your visit?  If you like nature, check out the city parks and wilderness areas. However, you won’t know unless you do some research beforehand.

Your journey in recovery is a chance to learn more about yourself. Use your business travel to explore new interests. 

Take some time out of your busy routine to escape the stress of the business trip. Most of all, learn to enjoy yourself.

Ask some of your new colleagues to come along with you. They might thank you for the unique experience. Maybe it is the break they need from the ritualized happy hour and hangover in the morning.

3. Traveling for business in recovery requires you to bring your own support network

Yes, it’s unnerving to have to disconnect from your support network. However, nowadays it’s easy to bring your support network with you when traveling for business in early recovery.  You live in an age of information and connection. You can use several different apps to stay connected to those you love and have the benefit of virtual support group meetings. If you haven’t already, download several recovery apps to receive inspirational messages, work on recovery goals, or get daily tips to stay sober. 

Before you leave to make sure you have collected phone numbers and email addresses for your peer supports, sponsor, and recovery coach. When you are working with a recovery coach schedule daily phone calls so you can check-in, work through stress, or problems which might arise during your trip. 

Also, before you head out of town, ask your local sober network if they have any friends in recovery in the place you are traveling to.  I used to travel to San Francisco 4 or 5 times a year. One of my NYC buddies introduced me to 2 of his pals in recovery in SF so from that point on, I had a whole new sober network to connect with and be accountable to in SF.  Travel to London, same thing. Travel to Chicago, same thing. It made my business travel so much more fun and comfortable when I was spending time with other guys in recovery.

4. Rest, eat healthy meals, stay hydrated, and exercise

  • Rest

A business trip doesn’t mean working 24/7.  But, what happens after a full day in meetings? You might grab a quick bite and head to the hotel to clear emails and work late into the night. You then keep squeezing “one more task” into every spare minute, and when you return home, you're bleary-eyed, burnt-out and on the edge of a lapse. Sound familiar?

Make a plan to unplug at the end of the day, to find time to relax, rest, and recharge. During a 30-40 minute cab ride put your planner away ride and watch the local scenery. Or instead of letting traffic stress you out use the time to sit back and close your eyes.

  • Eat healthy meals

When you are in early recovery, it's vital to stay mindful of the signals your body is sending to you. Eating a slice of pizza or going to your favorite fast-food spot is tempting. But your body needs all the nutrients and nourishment you can give it to stay focussed and sharp, so skip the fast-food. Instead, trade out the quick bites and rushed meals for something that will be easy on your body. Replenish the nutrients your body needs to function at peak performance by being mindful of the food you are eating throughout the day. If you want to unwind at the hotel with a refreshing meal, take advantage of food delivery apps and order healthy meals that will heal you instead of harm you.   

  • Drink water

Think back to when you last traveled for business. Did you suffer from dry skin, hoarse and sore throats, or total exhaustion? These are just a few symptoms which signal dehydration.   These are all signs of your body, begging you to drink water. It's easy to not drink enough water at home, so imagine how hard it can be when traveling for business in recovery. You wind up feeling like you have a severe cold, even in the summer. So next time you plan to fly, bring your travel bottle, keep it filled, and drink plenty of water often. 

  • Exercise

Exercise is still the best way to relax. During a business trip, you will have some free time to kill. Don’t stay in your room and watch TV. Use this time to go out and play, take a walk, or go for a run. Make use of the hotel gym or swimming pool to “recharge your body and mind. Your work will be more efficient during your business trip when you add some exercise to your schedule.travelling for business in early recovery

If you do not have a strategy to care for your body, even a short business trip can leave you buried under stress and exhaustion. That's why you should put these three strategies into place for effectively managing your time, your attention, and of course, your recovery.

 

5. Prepare coping strategies

Keep in mind what you are and aren’t missing. When around others who are drinking during lunch or at the office, it's easy to start feeling sorry for yourself. However, you cannot let these feelings derail your early recovery. Stay alert for triggers and situations which have heightened your urge to drink in the past. 

Be mindful of the coping strategies you use when home to maintain peace and serenity. Practice deep breathing techniques and mindfulness to stay focused on the task at hand. Don’t let unwanted thoughts or cravings derail you or create stress. 

Instead, embrace the built-in downtime of travel. Cab and shuttle rides, waiting to board a flight and layovers are all perfect opportunities to practice habits that recharge you. Let your mind wander, take in your surroundings, and experience the world head on.

Trey Laird, CEO and Founder, of The Lighthouse Sober Living in Connecticut has an excellent tip for staying sober in early recovery. He writes,

“When I was getting close to my successful completion from a drug treatment program, a guy whom I have great respect for, with many years of long-term recovery, said to me, ‘the more people who know that I don’t drink or take drugs, the fewer people I have to drink or take drugs with.’

I took these words to heart. It made total sense to me. I knew I could keep my recovery under wraps like many before me,  but I wanted to be honest and open about my journey. I was full of secrets in my active addiction; I didn’t want my recovery to be about secrets, too.”

When you have to travel for business in early recovery keep this in mind. Recover Out Loud by informing new associates that you don’t drink. This one coping strategy could be the difference between you having an enjoyable experience during your trip or a lapse.

Bonus tip: Bring your recovery coach or sober companion with you

Recovery coaching helps you achieve long-term sustained recovery by focussing upon facilitating a stronger self-understanding and a higher level of activity. Working with a recovery coach is similar in employing the services of a personal trainer and nutritionist when seeking to achieve personal fitness and nutritional goals. Like a personal trainer, a recovery coach will assist you in meeting your personal and professional recovery goals much more comfortable and more quickly than you would on your own.”

When you have a recovery coach, you can travel for business in recovery safely by staying connected to him or her at all times. Schedule daily calls in the morning and at night. Consider paying a sober companion to travel with you. Doing so would be adding insurance to your recovery and your company.

Are you are ready for safely traveling for business in recovery?

Traveling for business in recovery is stressful. At times, you are dealing with different time zones, cultures, currency, people, combined with an overbooked workload. It isn’t hard to lose focus on the signals your body is sending you to slow down, relax, drink water, or eat.  Business travel in recovery requires proper planning, connection to peer support, and staying mindful of your body, triggering situations, and stress.

Are you worried about traveling for business in early recovery?

Call Trey Laird at 917-647-4540 to speak with one of our Recovery 365 recovery coaches and commit to a life of fulfillment in recovery.


John Makohen