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Sober Vacations with your Sober Curious Yoga Panel

Updated: Oct 24, 2021



The Sober Curious Yoga Panel is back! Meet Jules, Matt, Leigh and Alex for their third panel episode about preparing for Sober Vacations! Sober Vacations can be scary and challenging because they are so different from when drinking. But so rewarding as well! In this episode the panel is back to tell you their tools, tricks, strategies and wisdom around sober curious vacations.




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Transcript


Intro

Welcome to the "Sober Yoga Girl" podcast with Alex McRobs, international yoga teacher and sober coach. I broke up with booze for good in 2019. And now I'm here to help others do the same. You're not alone and a sober life can be fun and fulfilling. Let me show you how. Alex

All right. Hello, everyone. And welcome back to another episode of "Sober Yoga Girl". Now, this is the third episode with the "Sober Curious Yoga" panel, which we've been having a lot of fun recording. So it's your "Sober Curious Yoga" teachers, Leigh, who is in the States, and Jules and Matt, who are both in the UK, and then myself in Abu Dhabi. So welcome back, everyone. How's everyone doing?


Leigh

Great.


Jules

Needing a holiday.


Alex

Needing a holiday. A perfect lead into our theme for tonight. So tonight we're going to be talking about our experiences on our first sober vacations. And we were just chit-chatting before and found out that me and Matt, both were having our first sober vacation in France, which is pretty cool, both in Paris. Leigh and Jules, where were your first sober vacations?


Jules

I think from what I can remember, I think it was about two months into being sober. I went away for a weekend in Wales in the UK, and I can remember not having any clue as to what to drink. And at the time, I wasn't drinking any alcohol-free drinks and I bought a load of Elderflower, which, you know, is nice. But after about two or three bottles of Elderflower press incredibly boring. So yeah, I think I felt a little hard done by. I've got to be honest, I do remember thinking, well, what am I supposed to drink? This is my holiday. And even though it's a weekend away, my partner doesn't drink a lot. But he did have some wine. And I remember us having a really nice dinner and I think I had, like, maybe soda water or something like that. And there was a little bit of oh, I think I was a bit nervous at the time to drink anything alcohol-free, like, alcohol-free beer or anything like that. So I didn't want to get triggered. But yeah. So I think it wasn't really until about maybe, I don't know, maybe six months later that I decided to drink alcohol-free drinks, which made it so much easier, like going away and having more choice.


Leigh

Mine. I guess it depends if you want to know if it was a successful sober vacation? My first attempt at a sober vacation was a failure. I was with a lot of friends and I tried. We all went to the grocery store, it was a ski trip. And I went to the grocery store and bought myself an alcohol-free beer. I don't think I got alcohol-free wine, but I know I got alcohol-free beer, and I felt very self-conscious about it. We were with six other couples, and I hadn't really told everyone that I was trying to get sober and I wasn't as committed to it as I am now. And I made it, like, through two or three days, and then I was like, screw it, I'm gonna drink and I drank. I caved in, to the peer pressure. So that was a hard one. And then the next one that I did was a vacation with my family. And we went to Oregon backpacking, and I did go to the grocery store and buy alcohol-free wine and beer. And my son's also alcohol-free, so that made it a little easier because it was-- and my family all knew knows that I'm doing this. So I had the support. I think my friends weren't, like trying to sabotage me, but I felt my self, self-sabotaging in the first one. I think it's really important to pick who you go with, especially for your first time, to go away, to have people who are really supportive to you and that you're not shy about telling that you're not drinking.


Matt

That's quite interesting that Jules actually brought up that you didn't drink alcohol-free drinks to start with. So you really switched the sort of you know, desire to drink alcohol away straight away. And that wasn't the case for me at all, actually. In fact, I probably had quite a few alcohol-free drinks, not as many. But I was quite interested to hear that. And I think as you said, like depends on who you go away with. And my two alcohol-free holiday vacations, I have been with my wife and my kids, and that has probably helped a lot. Although as we talked about in the previous podcast, I have been away with a big drinking party. But anyway, my holidays, yeah, my first one was in France, and that was last summer when we could somehow get away during these crazy times. And we went to France. And France would normally be somewhere I've gone to a lot before, and it would be a place to drink lots of wine, a few beers. You know, I do miss wine to an extent, I have to say, but last summer, I can't even remember struggling with it because I was in that kind of golden period of time where you're really going for not drinking. And photos of me, I look pretty great. Actually, I have to say, I was sort of 75, 80 days of not drinking. And I was in that real zone of this is the best thing ever. Not that I'm not now, but it was really going for it, you know. So I found it really easy. We went to a Center Park kind of place. We went into Paris, and it was okay. You know, it was actually really easy. And there were alcohol-free beers around. So I had a few of those. And actually, for me, alcohol-free beers are the revelation because if you like beer, alcohol-free beers are a massive win because they're so good. If I had known how good they were or you know, maybe years ago, they weren't as good. But, you know, if I had known two or three years ago, I would have just been drinking those all the time because I can't tell the difference. Yeah. And actually going on holiday this summer, we went just into the UK, and when we got to the Airbnb, there was a really nice bottle of red wine there as a gift to us. And at that point I remember thinking, oh, I wonder what that's like. And then my wife had someone. I smelled it and I hated the smell. I really didn't like the smell. It was the first time I'd smelt wine, and I was like, horrible.


Jules

I've had exactly the same when we went to an Airbnb last year, and I hadn't smelt wine for however long and really similar, they left us a bottle of wine. And there was this, oh, because that you know, it's just such a lovely gesture. And I remember pouring some out for Adam and I thought, let's smell it, see what it smells like. And it just smells like vinegar. Yeah. I was really surprised. So I don't think I'd smell wine for, like, six months or whatever, and it really put me off. And I'm actually you know that I'm pleased that it did because again there was-- I've really noticed actually just talking about it. Now I think that's one of my triggers is going on holiday. I think I can keep up, so I've been fine and I've gone to comedy nights. Music gigs, I've been fine. I think holidays actually, are a real big clinch of me because it's that feeling of now I can let my hair down. Now I can have a break. I don't think I've ever been on holiday and as an adult where I haven't drunk and not necessarily lots but it's like that's what you do, you go on another day and the first night is you open a bottle of wine, you buy really nice bottle of wine or get given it as a gift. And then, you know, most of the holiday, it's not necessarily around drinking, but it's a massive part of it. And I don't think I sort of realized until reflecting on it now that it's like, actually, every single holiday or break that I've had, wine has been a massive part of it. And now that I've gone on a cup of little weekend breaks and holiday breaks. Yeah, it's trying to shift not just the drink but also the mindset of what other things that I do. And I remember my last holiday, which I know that actually did quite a few yoga classes and one of the yoga classes I did when I was in the car, which I knew that I needed to have a structure when I was on holiday. And one of the most important things is about doing my sort of daily practice and doing my daily yoga practice and trying to find places to do that. And the only place I could do it was in the car. So Alex was teaching me yoga in the car.


Matt

That's a different podcast. Car yoga.


Jules

Oh, yeah. That'll be our next podcast.


Leigh

But I think that's really true Jules, what you said about shifting your mindset. It's like shifting your mindset around what's fun, what's relaxing for you, finding different things that are relaxing than wine. Because the association for me is like for me, that was like the association of after skiing, the Apre ski beer and finding a replacement for that. The association of, you know, going to a pool and having a cocktail is a really big one. I think that is hard to let go of and think, what am I going to have instead? And so it's really important to plan ahead and think, what are the things I'm going to do for my relaxation and what are the things I'm going to do for fun? And what are the things I'm going to do that fill me up versus using alcohol is that crutch. And I remember when I first started being alcohol-free and thinking about being in Italy, sitting on like a terrace with a nice-- one of those drinks I have the Orange liquor in them in Italy that they serve, Aperol spritz and having an Aperol spritz, like by the water. And that just seems so romantic. The whole idea of it to me. And I think I would be just as happy sitting on that terrace in the beautiful setting with a mocktail or with some kind of a fancy drink. It doesn't have to be alcohol. It's not necessarily the alcohol that creates the relaxation. It's the setting and who you're with. So thinking about what's fun. And I also think, like, for my vacation, we plan, like a backpacking vacation. So it was like an adventure and doing something fun, adventurous, that took it away from the focus on alcohol. So planning the activities. I don't know, like in Paris, maybe it's going to museums or you know, a walking tour, looking at architecture or whatever. You know, it could be different things. But thinking of other things than sitting in that place, drinking the wine.


Alex

Yeah. So for my trip to Paris, it was my first trip that I had planned being alcohol-free. But I actually planned it before I had quit drinking. And the reason why I did it was because you know, traveling between North America and the Middle East often I would stop over in Europe. And so it was a stop over between my trip to Canada and then my trip back to Abu Dhabi, and I actually didn't want to go. I actually thought about canceling the trip because I was going to be by myself. And I was like, I just don't think I can do Paris without a glass of wine in my hand. I don't think it's going to be possible. And then the funny thing was, so when I was in Morocco, I was with my mom way before I quit drinking. And we met this Parisian man in the Sahara desert, like this guy that lives in Paris. And he was like, at the time, I thought he was so boring, right? I was like, he's a physics professor who just wants to talk about art, and he doesn't really drink. And he's so boring. And he said, oh, you're coming to Paris, stay at my house, like with me and my mom. And I'm like, oh, my God, that would be the most boring vacation ever. And then he ended up reaching out to me and be like, do you want to stay with me? And it was the most perfect thing because he was not really a drinker. And he had spent his whole young adulthood just kind of traveling the world, meeting random people. He had been to hundreds of countries. So he just wanted to you know, pass on the favor and tour me around. So he had planned this whole itinerary. He had booked all the museums, and you know it was like a three-hour thing. So he just wanted to tell me about all the history of every piece of art, because that was what interest him. And it ended up being, like, the best vacation of my entire life. Oh, my God, it was amazing. And I told him before him I was like, I don't drink. And he's like, yeah, I don't really like to drink either. And then there was just, like, no alcohol at all the whole vacation. And at the end of the week, I was like, this is the best week of my life. And I was so happy that I didn't cancel it. But it's totally it's like, who you're around, right? Because it's just luck that I ended up with this guy. But if I had been with a group of my friends that were more interested in, like, partying in Europe, I might have ended up drinking. I don't know.


Matt

It's interesting you said that that was the best vacation of your life. There's an interesting point that I've thought about is that these two vacations I've been on, I actually came back refreshed from them. Whereas holidays before, when you're drinking, I'm sure you guys agree. You know, you're recovering when you get back, right? Because I typically would you know, have a drink at lunchtime. Probably have to have another one because I had this silly idea that if I have one drink, it's not enough and it makes me sleepy. And then you sort of wasted some afternoons and then you drink in the evenings. You know, I'd come back quite lethargic and not relaxed and too tired after being on holiday, which is crazy. Whereas this has not happened to me the last two holidays. You know, you're not drinking. So that's quite interesting to reflect on.


Leigh

Yeah, definitely. I remember coming back from vacation or, like, when the vacation ending, thinking, how am I going to go to work? Because I'm used to drink it. Starting drinking at, like, 11 or 12 in the morning. You know, breakfast Bloody Mary's at breakfast, beers on the beach, wine with lunch, whatever. Wherever it was.


Alex

So was there anything about vacation that worries you ahead of time? Like other than what we've already talked about?


Matt

No, I don't feel like anything really worried me. I don't because the thing is depending on I was going away with. I'm going on a holiday next year where I'm going away with my wife's parents and we're going to an all inclusive place, and that will be more of a challenge, I think, for this one because we are where we're staying this summer. I didn't feel worried about it.


Jules

Not a holiday. I suppose, because I've just taken lots of weekend trips. We've got a trip coming up in a couple of weeks, actually, which I'm a little bit nervous about. So we have a group of friends that from my partners, University days. They're all in the sort of late 40's and 50's. And the original plan was to go clubbing, which I laughed for about 20 minutes, and my partner laugh about 20 minutes. And given that we're enough or late 40's, early 50's sort of going clubbing makes me, yeah, completely want to just laugh a lot. But we actually have a weekend coming up, and whenever we see this group of people, they're all gorgeous. They're all lovely people. But whenever we see them, there's a lot of drinking. And the last time we all went away for the weekend, we went out to London and spent the whole entire weekend drinking, and I haven't met them without drinking. And it's interesting. So even though I'm coming up nearly to two years, it's still actually something that makes me feel nervous. And again, I don't think it really hit me. I think, because I've been only on holidays or breaks with my partner who's not really a big drinker. And our activities that we do very much and that's what you were saying Matt, it was very action taps and we were doing activities and very sort of you know, child orientating because my partners got children. But actually, this is going to be a weekend away. And I think most of the activity is going to be based in the path. And so I think it-- what I need to put in place as a plan.So whenever I do anything, which makes me feel a bit nervous or worried or a bit overwhelmed, I put a plan together. And for me, because I'm quite introverted within a brute setting, what I used to do was just get drunk because I couldn't really cope with being around lots of people. And if I drank, then it meant that I could, you know, what I thought was confidence, which was actually you know, as a smoke screen. So I think even though I'm quite, you know, as I said, that coming up two years sober it's still something that I need to work on. It's not something that I take for granted. It's not something that I just suddenly go, oh I'm two years sober, I don't have to worry about alcohol anymore, and I don't have to worry about social settings. I still do. I still think that-- I was listening to Laura McKowen's podcast this afternoon and she's seven years sober and she was saying about "is not taking it for granted and that there's always new unveiling and there's always new things that you learn about yourself". And she's realized that she's got sober, she's become more introverted. And I realized that actually I much prefer either being on my own or being like one to one with people. So going on holiday, you don't notice for a weekend. I can see it on my hands are going, oh. I'll put a plan together, and I hope that I'm at a place now where I have the confidence to be assertive to go. I'm going to leave now because I don't really want to stay up late in a pub to 11:00 with lots of people drinking. It's not something that interests me anymore. And again, it's there reasserting myself. And when I used to drink alcohol, I would know if I'd have just got drunk and pretended I was fine with it. Whereas now I can't pretend if I'm in a social setting and I'm feeling uncomfortable, then it's about sucking up the confidence and putting on my big girl pants and saying, actually, I'm going to go now because my need to take care of myself and my need to actually have rest time and downtime. It's really important. And being on holiday is rest time and downtime. So yeah.


Leigh

Is your husband or your partner, is he willing to leave at the same time as you or how does it work?


Jules

Oh, he stays there. He would be very supportive. So my big work out that the pub is nearby, the bed and breakfast place that was staying that was one of my requirements was when we go out, can we be close to where we're staying so that if I need to leave, I can go because I've been in situations where I've been stuck when I'm somewhere and lots of people drinking and I'm stuck in that situation, I can't leave. And that to me, is just not a good thing. Then I end up hiding the toilets or in the past getting very drunk because I can't cope with it, whereas now it's like, okay, so what do I need to put in place to take care of me? And I think that doesn't stop. I think that that's something that carries on and you keep pushing those things in place for yourself.


Matt

I like the way you said that there's various unveilings of you know, sober journey, and I think that's so true because it's the similarities between going holiday and meeting up with friends, you know, I've been invited to a surprise 40th birthday tomorrow and for quite a while, and I just say I'm not going to go because I'm just worried that you know, there's a lot of drink in there and not that I will drink. But just that-- I know there's still a way out as much fun and people talk about it. And you know, I think you do become more introverted. So you know, if you go on a holiday with lots of people or away for a weekend, you know, it's that social dynamic isn't it, is the fact there are other people there drinking. You know, if I was going away with 20 people and they're all not drinking, it's a different story. So yeah, it's going to take a long while, isn't it? To not think about it and have to have a plan in place.


Jules

So is that tribe mentality? Isn't it. That we go on a walking holiday every year. I don't feel like that because, like, half of the people that go on that walking holiday aren't drinkers or not very big drinkers. And actually the holidays about walking. So we're mostly too exhausted to get drunk. What we do-- if people do drink, it's not the highlight of the weekend, whereas the weekend be going on I know that it's going to be the massive part of it. And it's also you know, that just isn't something that interests me. You know that isn't something that I do anymore. Someone said, you go away for the weekend and practice yoga and dance and walk and you know, stare at the moon as it goes down on the beach, I'd be like, yes, please. But if someone said you spend a whole weekend in the pub sitting there getting pissed, I'd be like, no.


Matt

Our interests change. Didn't we? And I think our interest change in what we want to do changes as we get into more of a sober life. And, you know, going back to my sort of invitation to go out tomorrow night. I just don't feel like I want to go. It just got me bothered. It doesn't interest me. I'm more excited to go and do a hot pod yoga instead. That's it.


Leigh

One of my favorite vacations used to be going on this houseboat trip with my friends, and it was drinking from morning till night and getting really several people would end up getting sick during the trip throwing up from you know, too much alcohol. And the thought of doing that again was really made me very nervous. I was like, how would I ever do that? And I was so thankful that actually it just didn't happen because of Covid this past--last--. It was always in the fall, like, right around this time. It was about a month ago and we haven't done it two years in a row. And I kind of relieved that we haven't had to do that because my choices for vacation now are much different. Right. I like doing more hiking or something outside or with my family. I'm happy to go away with friends. Still, I just don't want to like, you guys are saying, I spend the whole time around people who are drinking from morning till night and having to negotiate that.


Matt

It's just a ridiculous idea, isn't it, that you go away and people are getting sick from drinking?


Alex

Yeah.


Matt

I mean, what a dumb thing to do. Why do I wanna do that?


Leigh

Oh, gosh. And it would take like, the whole week to recover from that trip, you know, like, just two or three days of just feeling so sick afterward.


Alex

Yeah, I did, like, the ultimate, you know, how everyone wants, like, backpack around South East Asia in their, like, 20's. I did that ultimate trip right before I got sober, and I look back on it and I'm just like, oh, my God. I had, like, two to three hours of sleep at night. I would miss touring cities because I would be asleep in a hostel bed. Like on every drive I was just asleep on the person beside me. I look back and I'm like, that was not a good trip. I don't remember learning anything. I didn't really like any--like the people out who just--we would just get drunk and fight. And I'm sure they were lovely people. I'm sure they would have been lovely had we spent sober time together. But, you know, it wasn't, like lifelong friends or anything. Like, you know, I met them all and then said goodbye at the end of the trip and sort of never saw them again. Actually, one of them is lovely. She joins the Mindful Life Practice community, but she was not doing the drunk rivalry. That's Sheila, who does our class. She was one of the more sober folks that I really should have spent time with. But honestly, I look back and I'm just like, I don't know why that was, like, the peak thing I was looking forward to because I really-- I would have gotten so much more out of it had it been sober. I think.


Jules

I think it is that--I think isn't it changing the mindset of what a holiday is? What is a holiday now? Because when I was younger, my holidays were, as you said, it was like getting drunk and having crazy nights. And I don't regret that because I had some brilliant times like absolutely top times and also some awful times. But on the whole, I've got to say I look back maybe with beer goggles. But I do look back and just go I did have some crazy wild times. I went on a honeymoon to San Francisco and met the craziest people. I met, people in bars that I'd never meet, and I actually met I don't know if I'm going to say this, Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston's ex-husband, and my drunk Grey Goose vodka and spent the night not chatting. But the night just with Bobby Brown. And we met some alien spotters. So it's like, you know, there were some amazing times and I genuinely had some absolutely fantastic evenings that who knows, if I'd have had drinks with Bobby Brown if I was sober. Maybe not. But I know now, for me, that isn't what I want. I don't regret doing any of those things because that's just part of my tapestry. It's part of my history. But where I'm at now, I want something different. I want holidays, which I'm present in and I want holidays, which, as you said, I'm learning stuff or experiencing and trying things. Maybe that I wouldn't usually try, but I want to leave a holiday feeling rested and having some restorativeness and refreshingness. And I just wouldn't have that if I was drinking. So I think my mindset has shifted and my interests and my needs have changed in the wider picture, but also in what I grew in my holiday time as well.


Matt

Yeah, I'd agree with that. And I think it's like the wasted hours, isn't it? You know, and when we talk about what sober vacations are like, we're obviously all of us are reflecting on what they were like before. And I just think of the number of hours I wasted. Whereas last year in France, I remember getting up at six every day and doing yoga, I was doing yoga with the MLPC. Actually, I started that often. It was amazing. And I was up at 5:30 in the morning doing yoga and just doing two or three hours of stuff before my family woke up, which is brilliant. And so I look at all those extra hours I gained on holiday, and those week-long holidays now, feel like a proper week instead of half a week because so much time was wasted. And yeah, I remember like you Jules, I do remember so many fun times. I really do. But I do regret some of the wasted hours, I have to say, and you know, I can't get away from that now. Yeah, it's about making the most of the ones that come. I suppose now.


Leigh

And I think it's about like I just was listening to Glennon Doyle, "We Can Do Hard Things" podcasts. And she was talking about bravery and bravery being like this internal choice that you make for yourself that don't go with what everyone else wants to do. And so when you have a bunch of friends saying, oh, let's go on a ski vacation and we'll all run a house together or like, let's do the houseboat and I'll do this together, and you know that it's going to be drinking. It's like, is that really the choice I want to make? And within myself as a brave decision, I think to say no, I think I don't really want to do that for vacation. Maybe I want to do something that's better, that's going to fill my cup more and not going with the flow of what everyone else wants to do. So if you know, you're going to get boxed into that kind of scenario where you're in a place with all people who are drinking or there's going to be some situation that's going to trigger you or it's not going to be filling for you find some other way to spend your vacation. And it's not-- it's okay to say no in that situation and do something different.


Jules

I think you're so right. It's courage. It really is. It's courage, to take a different way of being or take a different life. And you know, there is that herd mentality. And I know that when you're younger, there's probably more pressure. But even as you're older, I still feel it from a lot of people. There is a why do you practice yoga? Why do you do all those things? You know a lot of friends think maybe that what I do is selfish as opposed to self-care. There's always that little subtext with people when they know that I do yoga. And it's like, but these are things that I do to take care of myself. I'm not-- I don't have any judgments about what other people do, what other people do to relax. That's brilliant. It helps you to relax. But I know for me at the end of the day, alcohol doesn't help me relax. It doesn't help me anymore. And what people would choose to do for their holidays for the rest of time or relaxation time. It's like you do you. But I know for me, that, what I need, you know, healthy, healthy things in my life because it helps me to feel better about myself. It helps my mental health, it helps my well being. And I really do think my holiday time now. I treat it as a bit of a retreat. It's like, what can I do to get the most rest because I need to have it so that I can go back into you know, work and go back into family situations and feel resilient. And especially during Covid. It's like, best and recuperation time is like, I think the 101 most important thing to do because you know we've got so much pressure on us during this time. So any little times that we can have, as breakers and a holiday, we need to make the most of it. Yeah. Holidays and rest time now, even if it is a day or a weekend, you know, if you get to have a week off, it's like making the most of that time.


Leigh

For me, like planning out the vacation. So it is more of a retreat and restorative thing instead of going along with the plans that someone else makes, you know that they have different priorities than, what mine.


Matt

The thing is that as we are sober now were a long way into our journeys. We are much more in tune with looking after ourselves. And this is actually true. Why did last summer when I went on holiday and I don't think I did it really when I was drinking, I've started taking my pillow with me when I go away. So I've been on two holidays and I've also been on the way for a couple of weekend stuff. But I now take my pi