If you like Pina Coladas…Can you really enjoy an alcohol free holiday?

Like weddings, pub gardens, Christmas, Friday evening, Curry houses, roast dinners, hen parties, any parties; being on holiday is just one of those dreamy visions that’s always been incomprehensible to imagine without the standard alcoholic beverage in hand.

Holidays, unlike other events listed above are a green light, an entirely reasonable time to drink at any time of day and for days and days in a row. On holiday, every day is the weekend and every indulgence has been longed for, deserved and totally earnt. Plus, you’re on holiday, that’s just what you do.

Ever the traditionalist, I was always one for embracing the culture when abroad; as in the local beer or spirit, national drink of choice, and failing that working my way through every one of the all inclusive cocktail menu. Ideally enjoyed at a swim up bar, in the sunshine (mad dogs and englishmen and all that).

Drinking ice cold lagers throughout the day is par for the course, and the crazy fact that it’s actually hard to get tipsy we put down to the weak cocktails (not the constant drip feed of alcohol pushing up the cause and effect limits). As we often quipped, you are more likely to get diabetes than drunk from these cocktails.

Of course, like any well respecting family abroad, we never really let things get out of control and keep the level of drinking ‘responsible’. Well, apart from that one time I jumped into the swimming pool fully clothed at midnight, but I’m still not entirely convinced I wouldn’t have done that sober. (The water looked so inviting).

As it goes, at eight months in to my alcohol free living experiment, I found myself embarking on the holiday of a lifetime to the United States, with our family and extended family. A party of ten, to whom most I was their drinking partner (four children excluded). The worry set in during the lead up for sure…would I crack? Worst still, would not drinking ruin my holiday experience?https://mummuddlingthrough.com/travel/muddling-in-america/

As an ex drinker, ghosts from holidays past haunted every step of the way. From the airport pre flight meal (where I’d have always had my first holiday glass of wine or beer), to the in flight meal with it’s complimentary drinks menu, and that arrival drink at the end of a long journey when you know the holiday can really begin.

In a weird way those memories almost helped me along, because for every happy holiday drinking memory, I could also recall many, possibly more scarring bad drinking memories. Moments that I tried to convince myself hadn’t ruined the holiday, but were far from idyllic scenes of travel that would feature in a tourism commercial.

And so I filled those moments with alternative methods of gratification; A little something from accessorise, a delicious nibble to eat, and (thank you Virgin) a welcome in flight alcohol free alternative.

The fact that we weren’t on a package, all inclusive holiday around a pool probably helped loads too. This was a trip requiring driving, energy, lots of moving from place to place and new things to do and see every day.

I wonder if in fact our pull towards a package beach holiday may wane, now that the laying in the sun doesn’t feature a drip feed of booze…I mean, honestly, I think we are going to need something else to do with ourselves.

The fact is, that despite the odd moment when the kids had played up on a long LONG car journey, drinking couldn’t have been further from my mind. I was on a high from the excitement of being away and seeing so many new sights and experiencing everything through the eyes of a big kid.

We travelled across two states and seeing the landscape changing and the climate heat up, and we explored Georgia, Florida, Disney, Daytona and Savannah. Every single journey and destination filled me with wonder and awe, and I was riding on the crest of a holiday high that I’d never experienced before. In the clarity of and simple fact that there was so much to enjoy, it seemed clear to me that finally I had let go of believing I needed a chemical alteration of my mind to enjoy this moment. Well, unless you count all of the coffee.

Once at our villa and home for around a week, I stocked up on alcohol free beers and crazy flavoured soft drinks all the same (thanks Walmart) and had my fill of new tastes in the form of ALL. THE. FOOD.

When the rest of the group sought out a refreshing beer I found myself an iced frappuccino or a frozen pineapple slush to let myself have a little reward and distraction from the temptation to cave. It was also a way of reminding myself that beer isn’t the only way to treat yourself to a refreshing moment of indulgence. I had the most delicious alcohol free Frozen Margarita and I swear I’ll be trying to recreate that magic for the rest of my life.

I read three books, including The Sober Revolution, just to spur me along on my way, and I swam, slept, laughed and lived in the moment; all without my senses being dulled by the undeniable effect of too many pina coladas, and the barely there fuzzy head sorted usually by another day of the same.

If it hadn’t been for the jet lag, I’d have said that I’d have come home more rested than any other holiday. And yet even without any sleep on the night flight home, I bounced straight back into the UK time zone with minimal recovery. Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.

I believed I could get through a two week holiday without drinking alcohol.

I hadn’t anticipated that not drinking would have added to my enjoyment.

I’d never imagined I’d have had the best holiday of my life; but that’s exactly what I did have.


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