Exploring Maryland? Here’s Our Top Tips For Sober Travel In Maryland

Updated On: Jan. 22, 2024
4 min read
Written by:

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Fun Things to Do In Maryland
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    What you will learn

    Always plan ahead when navigating sobriety and traveling so you can avoid any potential triggers.

    Sober events, zero-proof alcohol, local attractions, and support meetings are just some of the local fun events you can enjoy without compromising your sobriety.

    If you find yourself tempted to drink or are in a crisis, make sure those you’re with know your code word and help you exit or reach out to the national crisis line for immediate assistance.


    What do you have planned for your trip to Maryland? Sightseeing? Beach fun? Nights out? Traveling while sober can be just as fun, but you need to plan a bit to prepare for situations that may tempt you with alcohol or other substances, especially in areas known for nightlife.

    Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to Maryland sober, including how to enjoy tourist spots and sightseeing, how to find venues for nonalcoholic drinks, and how to seek help if you need it.

    Plan Your Itinerary

    Any vacation requires planning, but you may need a little more if you’re going on a vacation sober. If you don’t have an itinerary in advance, it’s easier for you to stumble into situations that tempt you. In addition, unstructured time can cause anxiety and restlessness, leading you to seek out substances.

    Before your trip, do your research. Look for attractions in the area, sights to see, and upcoming events to plan out a rough itinerary. You can always change your plans, but it’s best to go in with ideas for how you’ll spend your time.

    Know Your Triggers

    Some people can go to bars or nightclubs and be around substances without feeling tempted, while others need to avoid familiar situations or environments that are associated with their substance use.[1] Only you know what’s appropriate for you.

    As you’re planning, think about your triggers and your strategies to cope with them. For example, will your traveling companion be drinking? Will they want to visit a lot of bars or clubs? If so, have a conversation in advance to outline your expectations, make plans, and reduce the risk of relapse on your trip.

    Find Fun Things to Do In Maryland Without Substances

    Fun Things to Do In Maryland

    For many people, traveling means experiencing the nightlife in a new location. When you’re sober, you may need to seek out other things to do that don’t involve alcohol.

    Fortunately, Maryland has plenty of fun things to see and do that don’t include drugs or alcohol. For example, a lot of family-friendly attractions don’t serve alcohol, but they’re just as fun for an adult. Consider alternatives like aquariums, zoos, museums, and historic sites to fill your itinerary.

    Look for Zero-Proof Alcohol Venues

    The sober lifestyle is becoming more popular, even for people who aren’t in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. More and more bars and restaurants serve “mocktails” and nonalcoholic drinks and spirits to provide a sophisticated alternative for non-drinkers, so check some out in advance.
    Another option is local coffee shops, smoothie joints, or healthy juice bars. These are popular hangouts and serve lots of fun concoctions that don’t have an alcohol component.

    Pamper Yourself

    Alcohol and drugs can take up a lot of a vacation budget. Since you won’t be drinking on your trip, why not spend that money on a little luxury? You could indulge in a spa day, take a private tour of a historic site, or book an outdoor excursion. Another option is to give yourself a mini shopping spree at local shops you can’t find at home.

    Enjoy Alternative Nightlife

    If going to bars that serve zero-proof alcohol isn’t ideal for you, there are other ways to have fun after the sun goes down. You can go to a comedy club, a symphony, or a theater show. Check the upcoming events schedule for performing – art venues to see if there’s anything that catches your interest.
    Alternatively, you can take advantage of other activities at night. For example, night kayaking trips, moonlit dinner cruises, ghost walks, and nocturnal nature tours are all fun ways to enjoy a memorable night out without drinking.

    Get Out into Nature

    Connecting with nature can be a big part of recovery for a lot of people. If you enjoy the serenity of the outdoors, you have land, sea, and air in Maryland. Depending on the season, look for opportunities to scuba dive, hike, rock climb, parasail, kayak, bike, or ride horses. These activities don’t allow substances for safety reasons, so it’ll be easier to get a natural high without drugs or alcohol.

    Note Local Support Groups and Meetings

    Even with the best planning, you may find yourself tempted by the opportunities around you. Before your trip, make note of the local meetings and support groups in the area, the dates, and the times to be sure you know where to turn if you’re having a moment of temptation.

    National and international fellowships and support groups like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) have chapters in Maryland, but you can also visit the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) Maryland or call Maryland 988, the state crisis line, to find local meetings or support during your trip.[2]

    Enjoy Your Maryland Trip Without Substances

    Traveling is one of the most fun experiences you can have. If you’re traveling to Maryland in substance abuse recovery, make sure you plan ahead to establish sober guidelines for yourself, plan an itinerary, and know the resources at your disposal if you feel tempted. The better you plan, the more you can get out of your trip to Maryland with a loved one.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Sober Travel Tips


    How Can I Have Fun Without Drinking?


    When you develop a substance use disorder, it affects your brain’s reward center.[3] Over time, your brain gets used to the feeling of drugs and alcohol, rather than natural “highs” like eating or having fun at an alcohol-free amusement park. It can take time before your brain readjusts and enjoys natural euphoria, but you will eventually have fun without needing substances.


    Can I Go to Bars without Drinking?


    Bars offer nonalcoholic drinks like soft drinks for people who choose to abstain. Some bars offer mocktails and nonalcoholic beer or wine for people who don’t drink as well, which can be a more novel and elevated experience than sipping soda or juice. Keep in mind that even being in a bar can be a trigger, however, so proceed with caution.


    What Should I Do If I Want to Drink?


    Temptation may happen when you’re on vacation, especially if you’re in a “party” area or with companions who drink. It’s important to plan in advance by outlining your boundaries with your companions and making contingency plans, such as having a code word for when you need to remove yourself from the situation.
    It’s also important to make a list of mental health resources in the area to prepare if you need more support. Maryland also has a 988 crisis line if you need immediate assistance from a mental health professional.


    [1] Melemis, S. M. (2015, September 3). Relapse prevention and the five rules of recovery. The Yale journal of biology and medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4553654/ on 2023, December 20.

    [2] Maryland Department of Health Behavioral Health Administration. Maryland.gov Enterprise Agency Template. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://health.maryland.gov/bha/Pages/988md.aspx on 2023, December 20.

    [3] Gardner, E. L. (2011). Addiction and brain reward and Antireward Pathways. Advances in psychosomatic medicine. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4549070/ on 2023, December 20.

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