If you’ve been impacted by addiction, whether your own or a loved one’s, I think you will appreciate this story.
First, I want to share with you that I am a dedicated member of the Choose Life Sober Adventures team (Marketing & Community Manager). While I am not in recovery myself, addiction has been a part of my family life, and as you know, that can be hard.
Another important thing to know about me: I am crazy about travel.
This fall, one of my travel dreams came true — I journeyed along Peru’s Inca trail to the ruins of Machu Picchu, a place I’ve longed to visit since I read about this mysterious place as a schoolgirl. And I experienced it quite a bit differently than most others would—on a guided sober journey.
What is alcohol-free — or sober — travel and what are the benefits? The short answer is obvious: alcohol-free travel is exploration without the use of substances. But the benefits go beyond waking up bright and early to discover the world refreshed and with no hangover. Alcohol-free travel is also about the community created amongst like-minded travelers.
And as I clearly found out in Peru, alcohol-free travel can benefit anyone, not just those in recovery.
Gathering on day one for a local lunch in the high-Andean city of Cusco, trepidation filled me. I had never before taken a group trip, let alone a sober adventure. But if I could describe my experience in meeting my group in one word, it would be ‘frisson’, the sudden strong feeling of thrill. From the beginning, this trip provided an abundance of those thrills, made all the more meaningful as I experienced them with others who have shared backgrounds. For me, I didn’t know that I could feel these thrills sober.
Unlike “normal” group travel, we started our days with morning meditations and intention setting, the chirps of Andean birdlife and the vivid colors of local flora adding vibrance to our day’s ambition. And in the evenings, in the shadows of South America’s imposing peaks, we examined how that day’s theme impacted us, sharing the strong emotions that the region and its people stirred in our hearts. As I shared my own life-experiences and struggles I was warmly supported by the community we built together.
We spent a week traversing the Sacred Valley at the side of our driver, our guide, and our CLSA facilitator, our evenings spent in lovely haciendas and days filled with local markets and ancient ruins. The discoveries — both of the region and of ourselves — were authentic and real. Together we hiked the rock stairs of the trail that brought us to the Sun Gate overlooking the famed ruins of Machu Picchu, a half-day trek that provided us the kind of reward that can only come with exhaustion. As the citadel came into view through the mist, it hit me — a moment of true peace and serenity deep in my soul. Looking out upon the mystical “Lost City of the Incas,” I could not help but feel overwhelmed with its majesty, and with the turns my life has taken to bring me here. I looked around at my new community, and I could easily see that my co-travelers felt the same way.
During the final evening together, when we met to reflect on our adventure, my eyes were flooded with tears, my heart was throbbing, and my head was pounding. The destination inspired me. But the amount of love I grew to feel for and from this community was overwhelming. I remember thinking, “I have never felt so safe, so loved, and so embraced by a community.” With my co-travelers, I was not only welcomed but admired for being true to myself.
The absence of substances is the basis of sober travel — but the essence is the community we build.
Marketing & Community Manager