Feeling, Seeing, Smelling Vacation Without the Booze

I spent three hours yesterday lying in the Puerto Rican sun. On a lounge chair and in a bathing suit. I haven’t done that in years, but I felt the need for some Vitamin D and it was windy enough to be comfortable – not too hot. Happily, I am past the point where relaxing seaside also means getting drunk and sunburnt. I apply my number 30 and hydrate.

Mojitos and Mai Tais and Margaritas, oh my….

What is it about sitting beside the ocean that drains away all the accumulated stress? My senses are overwhelmed. The cobalt sky with cloud sculptures floating by; the salt breeze and intermittent blaze of sun; the clean washed, dreaminess of a lounge chair catnap. And the air, laden with faraway flowers, breathed in to the tips of my lungs. Even the water tastes better…

So, why do you think so many people drink alcohol on seaside vacations? Even using “vacation” as an excuse or an explanation for over-drinking or pouring the first adult beverage in the morning? Why has a tropical setting been such a trigger for me in the past? And while I’m in a questioning mood, how many calories are there in a margarita*?


Fixing things that are not broken…

Let’s recap. And I can do this without sounding preachy because I spent the better part of eight years pie-eyed, while living in The Bahamas. Getting drunk on vacation is like the old adage “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”. When you think about it, it doesn’t make sense…

I’m not talking about the heady pleasure of summoning a cute waiter for a single, decadent, poolside pina colada. Not even talking about a tipsy night clubbing, if you can handle it. I’m talking about anesthetizing. Impairing the senses being bombarded with all that natural splendor.

Here’s what I like about being sober on vacation:

1. My Beach Bag

There is no need to carry a small cooler anymore. No baggy with ice and insolated cup of wine. No clunk, clunk of wine shooters because 30 ounces of chard is not enough. I throw in one bottle of frozen water, one bottle of cold – easy.

2. Morning

I love sober mornings. A cup or two of coffee, fruit and gear up for the killer, PR hills. You may not have a best friend like mine, so this may not be as important to you, but I do not want to be hungover on a hike with Kim.

3. Feeling, seeing, smelling, tasting, remembering…


4. Best Behavior

Vacation brings out the “silly” in most folks. When you add three bottles of wine to the holiday mix, silly becomes sloppy. And oftentimes, with me, sloppy became ugly. Like the opening scene in Jaws, ugly…

5. Dozing vs Passing Out

There is nothing so wonderful as dozing by the ocean. But when you’ve had too much to drink in the sun and heat, it’s another story. Mouth open, snoring, slack faced – waking with a dry mouth and a thick head.

6. The Cumulative Effect

I could go on, but the fact is, vacation is just better for me now that I’m sober. It’s the cumulative effect. I’m a better friend, a better house guest (thank you Claudio and Kim), and a more enthusiastic and appreciative tourist. I’m healthier.

It’s All Good

I think everyone should have the opportunity to do exactly what they want to do on vacation. We all deserve to relax and rejuvenate. But one of the things I have learned in the last three years of sobriety, is that using alcohol to dull the rage, depression and pain, also dulls the good stuff.

And for me, the lazy, hazy, vacay Bahamian expression “it’s all good” to explain away my previous bad behavior, does not wash. It’s not “all good” when you can’t control yourself. It is not “all good” when you make a fool of yourself (again)… I am so grateful for these few days in Puerto Rico. I am so happy to be in the present and accountable. Feeling, seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing  a vacation without booze.

Now that’s “ALL GOOD”…

*Up to 850 calories! Yikes!

Today I’m not drinking because I am on vacation.

How come you’re not drinking?