Traveling Through Wine Country While Sober

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When people envision an Italian vacation they typical picture pizza, pasta, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Coliseum and of course, wine. While living a sober lifestyle, those visions may look a bit different. Recently, I discovered just how difficult some areas can be for travel while in recovery.

My Personal Experience

Part of my trip through Italy took me from Milan to Venice by train. While the kilometers passed by I saw hundreds of vineyards and rows upon rows of grapes. Every meal, apart from breakfast, came with wine and it seemed like no matter where I turned a glass or bottle was offered. Several times before I was even asked a glass was poured. This lifestyle is not exclusive to Italy alone. Sonoma County, California, Burgundy, France, and Rioja, Spain are all naturally stunning and popular areas to visit. With a few tips however, I’m sure you will be able to enjoy your vacation through wine country even more than if you were drinking.

Learning the Language When Abroad

Firstly, knowing how to politely decline a drink in your host countries language is highly important. I recommend learning enough of the language to be able to say you don’t want any wine with your meal. A simple “no, grazie” (no, thank you) or “non per me” (none for me) worked for me in Italy when offered wine with meals. Other phrases like, “non bevo il vino” (I don’t drink wine) can come in handy as well if you aren’t understood the first time.

Planning Activities

I also recommend planning ahead so that you stay busy. There are so many things to do and see in Italy that boredom, and the chance of the temptation to use, should never be an issue. Utilize websites like Trip Advisor or Lonely Planet to find activities to fit your lifestyle. Choose restaurants ahead of time so you don’t have to find yourself wandering, searching for options.

Travel with Those You Can Trust

Lastly, I advise you ask the people you are traveling with to help hold you accountable. Whether they are friends or family, I’m sure they don’t want to see you relapse and ruin your vacation. Speaking with them prior to the start of the trip is the best idea because it is easier to ask for accountability before being tempted than after. If you’re on a group trip or tour speak with the organizers and be honest with your addiction.

These are just a few suggestions for staying sober during your trip through wine country. If you would like to speak with a counselor who specializes in substance use disorders to solidify a more detailed plan prior to your departure, contact Rehab After Work today.


Article Written by Shaylyn Forte, LPC, CAADC