Hold the tequila. Sunrise is all that some travelers need.
A year after the start of the coronavirus pandemic, after months of gaining weight and feeling groggy, Mayra Ramirez has quit drinking. And this summer, it will mark a new milestone for its sobriety: a completely alcohol-free vacation.
Ms Ramirez, 32, spent the first 12 months of the pandemic working remotely from a small Brooklyn apartment, drinking every weekend and many weekday evenings as well. In March, like many others during this difficult year, she realized that her drinking was beyond the purely social framework. She has now been sober for three months. So when she started looking for places to take a break with a few non-sober friends, she suggested Sedona, Arizona where they would all walk and wake up early, and she would avoid potential pitfalls like nightclubs and clubs. seaside bars.
Many Americans have turned to alcohol to relieve stress, isolation and fear in the past 15 months: An October study in JAMA Network Open, the journal of the American Medical Association, found that Americans drank 14% more than the previous year. Now, as immunization levels rise and Americans return to the roads and skies, sober travel, a subset of vacations once relegated to just 12 steppers and recovering drug addicts, is becoming mainstream.
Give up drinks
In a survey carried out in June among more than 23,000 people by Trademark search, 29% of those polled said they plan to take an alcohol-free trip after the pandemic. Forty-seven percent of American Express respondents Global Travel Trends Report in March said wellness and mental health were among their top motivators for travel in 2021, and an analysis of social media discussions from Hootsuite, a social media management platform, showed mentions of the term “sober vacation” increased by more than 100% over Memorial Day weekend. Even the airlines are silent: after banning alcohol in the cabin in 2020, several airlines are postponing the return to the service of alcohol thanks to unruly passengers.
“If you had asked me a year ago, it would have been impossible for me to think that I was going to stop drinking for good,” Ms. Ramirez said. “But the pandemic, being home and just sitting with my thoughts made me flip a switch and say, ‘I can’t do this anymore. “”
For the September trip with her girlfriends, Ms. Ramirez will fill the Airbnb fridge with non-alcoholic beer and act as the designated driver of the rental car. To complement a new meditation practice that helped her stay sober, she scheduled visits to the supposed energy swirls, which are believed to aid in meditation and healing.
“I was anxious about planning the trip because I am newly sober and I knew it would be a hindrance to travel sober with other people who are not,” she said. declared. “But my friends have supported me so much.”
Ruby Warrington, who published the book “Sober Curious” in 2018, regularly answered questions about sober travel in her eponymous Facebook group, where membership has grown over the past year. She followed up on this book in December 2020 with “The Sober Curious Reset,” a 100-day guide to rethinking your relationship with alcohol. Ms. Warrington’s two books drew on the global “sometimes sober” movement that has been marked by trends like Dry January and #mindfuldrinking.
“The pandemic has really shone a light on our drinking habits,” Ms. Warrington said. She herself quit drinking in 2016 and found travel to be the last and most dreaded obstacle.
“The consumption of alcohol during the holidays is certainly the consumption that I held the longest. It’s the only pass I’ve given myself, ”she said. “A lot of people have looked at their drinking habits during the pandemic and don’t want to go back to where they were. And they don’t want the holidays to interfere with their progress.
Close cousin of wellness tourism
Alcohol-free travel agencies, such as Sober journey, We like lucid and Sober on the outside, were organizing completely dry trips long before the pandemic. Now they are seeing spikes in popularity: Steve Abrams, who founded Sobres International Holidays in 1987, said trips for the next year are almost complete. “I think we’re going to let go,” he said.
The Art of Living Retreat Center, a vegan wellness center in North Carolina that doesn’t serve alcohol, reports a 50% increase in visitors specifically seeking a sober vacation. Their ranks also increased to Rancho La Puerta, a fitness center and spa in Tecate, Mexico, where no alcohol is served in the dining room. “Many guests have shared that during this difficult year, mainly at home, they found themselves drinking more than ever before,” said Director of Customer Relations Barry Shingle in an email. .
Sober travel is a close cousin of wellness tourism, a sector currently valued at nearly $ 736 billion and expected to grow by $ 315 billion by 2024, because the pandemic has amplified our desire to optimize our health.
“Wellness trips, and the sober trips that go with it, will become more compelling for people who want to keep their immune systems strong,” said Dr. Wendy Bazilian, exercise physiologist in San Diego. “After the pandemic, we’re going to need a lot of different resets. “
Fay Zenoff, an addiction recovery strategist, will host a workshop for curious sobers in Mexico in September. She calls sobriety “a new tenant of well-being,” and her workshop offers strategies for assessing her relationship with alcohol. “We’re all recovering from something and you don’t must be sober to benefit from recovery practices, ”Ms. Zenoff said.
The weight (literally) of alcohol in the great outdoors
The pandemic has also pushed travelers to the great outdoors, which has also forced many to give up drinks.
Carlos Grider, 37, who runs the travel blog A brother abroad, said that with cities on lockdown, he had seen his readers shift their priorities as they planned trips to national parks and campgrounds.
Mr. Grider has been on sober trips for four years, all corresponding to intense adventures: a motorbike ride through the rice fields of the Ho Chi Minh Trail in Vietnam; meditation training at a monastery in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand.
“If you are going to be doing a trek or a hike, you will have to take the alcohol with you, and no one wants to carry that extra weight,” he said. “This is a positive result of the pandemic which has made travel much richer.”
Sarah Fay, 29, agrees. She quit drinking two years ago and her desire to hike the volcanoes of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala has helped her stay sober during the pandemic.
“I kept telling myself, when the world opens up again, this is the thing I want to do,” she said. “It was a health goal to be able to climb to this altitude. “Mrs. Fay reached the volcanoes at the end of April. She shared her sobriety trip on her travel blog, where several readers have asked for sober travel advice. For women, she said, sobriety is especially important.
“As a solo traveler it’s safer,” she said.
The appeal of the mocktail
In cities, too, the options for alcohol-free fun are multiplying. Arrow 73, the open-air bar atop the Intercontinental Los Angeles Downtown, responded to a demand for virgin drinks by adding non-alcoholic wines to its bottled service menu; at the Regent Singapore, non-alcoholic cocktails at the famous Manhattan Bar are concocted with freshly squeezed juice and infused tea infusions.
Morning raves without alcohol, like Dawn of the day and Morning gloryville, had to go virtual during the pandemic, expanding their global audience. As the in-person parties return, organizers say, more travelers are arriving on the dance floor drug-free.
Eli Clark-Davis, a Dawn of the day co-founder, says out-of-town guests have tripled since the in-person dancing resumed in May.
“Instead of just activating in 28 cities, we were in 112 countries. Now they want to visit the real thing, ”he said.
Newly sober or sober-curious travelers should plan ahead, said Holly Sprague, co-founder of Dry together, an alcohol-free online community for mature moms, researching mocktail sites and rethinking habits like drinking at airports.
Ms. Sprague, 46, has been out of the water for almost three years. Megan Barnes Zesati, her co-founder, is also 46 years old and in her fourth dry year. Sober vacations, Zesati said, have completely changed her travel experience.
“During my vacation these days, I’m as likely to enjoy a sunrise as I am a sunset,” she said. “During my vacation, I rarely took advantage of the mornings. Now these are my favorite times.
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