Staying Safe and Sober While Traveling During the Holidays

By November 25, 2021Mental Health
person with beanie in a car during winter

Traveling during the holidays is a time-worn tradition for some. However, whether you visit friends or family via train, plane, or automobile, navigating the crowds is a challenge.

2021 Post-ish Pandemic Travel

Traveling this year is not guaranteed, as the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is continuously revising their holiday gathering advisories. With the uncertainty of whether you can safely gather with your loved ones, you may wonder what you can do to lower stress and anxiety levels this holiday season. There are a few ways to calm your nerves, safely plan your trips, and decide whether to host your own party.

Holiday Gatherings Recommendations

The 2020 holiday season changed how many people thought about celebrating in groups. While some missed gathering with their loved ones, others enjoyed celebrating either virtually or in small groups. This year, the CDC continues to recommend celebrating with your loved ones virtually, holding get-togethers outdoors, or limiting gatherings to members of your household. Maybe you’ve been looking forward to seeing your immediate and extended family this year. You can still choose to have a holiday celebration and follow the CDC guidelines.

The CDC recommends vaccinations for those who are planning large gatherings. If vaccinations are a hot topic amongst family members, you can talk with them about it or simply wear a mask. However, you should consider whether talking with your loved ones about your beliefs will trigger stress and anxiety. Your mental and physical well-being is of utmost importance.

Remember, you can choose to attend or decline the invitation kindly. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, but be prepared for their responses if you decide to tell your loved ones why you’re not coming.

Two other suggestions include:

  • Increase ventilation in indoor gatherings by opening a window or a door. Cold air may make this suggestion impossible, but even a slight opening can increase ventilation.
  • Hold off on visiting loved ones in areas that have high COVID-19 cases.

If you do decide not to visit unvaccinated loved ones, you’re not alone. An article in Forbes magazine reported the findings of a Harris poll regarding holiday travel. The poll found the vaccinated are hesitant to visit those who aren’t vaccinated.

Family Issues

Family can push your buttons. Often, those who know you also know where to poke. Visiting with your loved ones during the holiday season can make you question how to cope with potential conflicts, emotional triggers, or talking with others about your sobriety. When you add vaccinations and mask-wearing to the mix, you can increase your anxiety or crave a substance. One way to help you cope with stressors is by talking with your therapist. You may uncover how your family will react to your health concerns or stances when you discuss your thoughts, feelings, and problems with your therapist. Work with them to figure out practical coping skills for specific situations like COVID-19 regulations.

Other coping techniques for the holidays include:

  • Attending group meetings and 12-Step programs
  • Discussing your concerns while listening to how others dealt with similar situations
  • Speaking with your sponsor about your fears before you leave for the holidays
  • Using your support system for guidance and encouragement

Time To Travel

Are you traveling for the holidays? The everyday stress of planning, packing, and being on the move can make the holidays dreadful. The added stress of not knowing when or if the CDC guidelines will change can leave you wondering if traveling is worth the trouble. A life hack to traveling includes understanding the travel patterns followed by most Americans.

More people travel for Thanksgiving than the December holidays. In fact, the number of travelers doubles on Thanksgiving compared to common holidays that fall in December. Those who travel by car to gatherings under 100 miles from home are more likely to drive on the day of Thanksgiving, while those with destinations further away tend to head hit the road the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. If you’re trying to beat the traffic home, it’s important to know the following days (Friday-Sunday) are relatively equal travel-wise. A tip for those flying: try your best to avoid Sunday if possible.

The December holiday season can be tricky. Since all of the holidays can fall anytime during the week, people may not have the flexibility to travel. On the other hand, many Americans have off work at the end of the year, making travel patterns even more challenging to predict. Ultimately, you can decrease some of the stress of travel by expecting those visiting loved ones to stay an extra day after the holiday.

The holidays are challenging to navigate; there is an additional expectation of getting together with friends and family. However, this year, like last year, carries a concern of COVID-19. The constant changes to COVID-19 guidelines, travel stressors, and getting together with loved ones can overwhelm anyone. You can decrease your stress and anxiety by taking a few precautions like preparing for travel and talking with a therapist or support group about your concerns. Use your support system to build a plan to cope with potential triggers. If you do encounter issues like relapse, you can contact Alta Centers. We are here to support you in your substance treatment journey. Our medically supervised detox center provides comprehensive care in your time of need. We understand seeking help is difficult and that you may be worried about the outside world. That’s why Alta Centers provides refuge in the Hollywood Hills where you can focus on your well-being. Call (888) 203-2583 today.

Leave a Reply