How I Survived My First Sober All Inclusive Vacation

When we booked our trip to Mexico, I secretly worried the temptation of this holiday would be too much.  

After all, it was an all-inclusive resort with unlimited top-shelf booze. Sometimes I struggle to make it through the day and take it hour by hour. Would I be able to relax and have fun without it? Would everyone else notice I was abstaining? Would it even be worth our money to go if I wasn’t indulging?

While these anxious thoughts plagued me through our vacation planning, I had my mind and heart set on facing this challenge. There was no way I was about to throw away two years of sobriety for two weeks at an all-inclusive resort — even one that offers Grey Goose martinis on demand.

For someone who suffers from anxiety, travel and alcohol used to go hand-in-hand — literally.

That used to mean I was the party girl dancing on tables, picking fights, jumping into the pool fully clothed after hours and waking up full of remorse and a bad case of the bed spins.


Despite one almost mishap that wasn’t my fault,  I did stay sober and am happy to report that I had the time of my life with my husband and two daughters. It wasn’t always easy, but I did find some solutions that helped me feel comfortable in my own skin without self medicating.

Here are five tips that helped protect my sobriety while on vacation.

1- Discover Alternate Beverages

When we were welcomed in the lobby with a cold glass of bubbly that little Devil on my shoulder made an appearance, whispering “Oh come on Kristyl, it would be rude not to accept it… just have a little sip.”

I was tired and cranky from sitting in an airplane with two young children for six hours, followed by a one-and-a-half hour shuttle ride. I was also pretty parched. To say I was a wee bit tempted would be an understatement.

A movie montage played in my head of how it would pan out had I taken a sip. That one glass would result in my dangerous ‘eff it’ mentality, leading me to take Jason’s glass of his hands and then go into full-on reckless party mode for the next seven days….weeks, month…possibly, years. It would’t be the first time. That’s how our last day in Disneyland panned out.

Instead, I handed back the delicate glass of bubbling liquid and asked if I could have a juice instead.

“Cheers mom, this is going to be the best holiday ever!” said Molly, 9, holding up her mango juice to mine.

Our resort offered an abundance of freshly squeezed juice options, a smoothie bar, and my personal favourite — a cafe. I loved being able to drink my Americano’s poolside while flipping though a magazine and watching my girls splash around in the water.I even sat at the swim-up bar with my husband, Jason, for virgin Bloody Mary’s. Warning: to be sure to pay attention when they’re pouring and have someone else taste it if your unsure. I was served a ‘virgin’ caesar with vodka that I spit out into my cup.

The gym and spa also offered this refreshing chloral and mint detox water that makes your skin radiate and cleanses your blood.

2- Get Moving

I used to tease Jason for being such a ‘joiner’ during vacations. While I’d spent the day drinking vodka sodas and soaking up rays, he was always on the go playing beach volleyball, bean bag toss or whatever crazy pool game was on the go.


When you’re not buzzed, lounging around can be a bit of a bore. This time around, I made it my personal mission to try every activity offered at our resort.

While I discovered I was just as horrible at beach volleyball as I was back in grade 9 (no wonder I was always picked last), I loved waking up each morning with a clear head to do yoga on the beach under a swaying palm tree. I also signed up for daily water aerobics, salsa under the stars, karaoke and a bean bag tournament.

3- Nobody Cares!

All of us are egocentric to some degree, causing us to make incorrect assumptions about what other people are thinking or feeling. I had been so worried about what the resort staff or guests would think of me not drinking, but quickly realized that not a single person there actually gave a shit. Why would they? In fact, I met several moms my age who weren’t drinking, and it wasn’t because they had an issue with addiction — they simply just didn’t want to. Or if they did, it was just a glass or two with dinner. Not as single person raised an eyebrow about my diet coke or virgin mocktail order.

4- Sweet Escape

If you’re like me (an empath who easily gets overstimulated and peopled-out), it’s vital to carve out some quiet time to recharge. Some days, I’d walk the beach alone, which was so calming and therapeutic. I’d also sneak some time away over at the quiet pool with a book and a latte when our girls were busy at the kids club.

5- Stay Connected

Did you know that the opposite of addiction is connection? I was so fortunate to have this incredible network of sober friends back at home that I could reach out to at any time to for support. And, it just so happened that one of these friends was staying at a resort close by with his daughter.

We all met up at a water park and spent the day together where we snorkelled, floated down a lazy river and shared some war stories from our pre-sobriety days. For those of you who haven’t found your sober tribe yet, there are numerous online networks and Facebook pages (my personal favourites are This Naked Mind and Hip Sobriety) that can help keep you dialled in. Also, don’t be afraid to check out recovery groups in your area.


Back when I first made the decision to be sober, I feared I might never be able to go on a vacation again — especially on an all-inclusive getaway with free-flowing booze.  Now that I’ve conquered that mountain, I have to admit that I feel pretty damn empowered, and that’s something amazing!

One of Vancouver’s top Mom Bloggers, Kristyl Clark is a work-at-home mom of two little Valley girls proving there is nothing bland about the burbs. Her adventurous family seems to always be out on some sort of crazy quest, from helicopter rides and wild river rafting, to top-secret paranormal investigations and living the high-life sampling the fine wines and foods of the Fraser Valley region. The ValleyMom.ca blog inspires her loyal fanbase through the trials and tribulations of suburban family living, guiding readers to local hotspots and hidden gems in her Canadian backyard


  • Janine Cahill

    February 26, 2019 at 6:05 am

    I am so very proud of you my dear daughter! I don’t think I’ve told you enough! Lol! That is a wonderful story and I’m sure will help many people as you are such an inspiration to others including myself. I love you very much! xo

  • Susan Carraretto

    February 27, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Way to go!!!

    It’s tough to say no to anything when it’s free… especially when it’s something you really want but shouldn’t have.

    I’m so happy you had a great vacation and conquered such a big milestone.

  • Tamara

    February 27, 2019 at 9:47 pm

    I think the nobody cares part is huge, once one gets past that it can be a game changer. I don’t drink and often felt like the odd one out because of it, but once I realized no one cared it made a huge difference. Plus, I don’t mind being the designated driver when out with friends.

  • Olivia

    February 27, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s so easy to slip or relapse on vacation, and being prepared for the temptation is so important. Know that this post will help someone else!

  • Tairalyn Ciulla

    February 28, 2019 at 10:45 am

    I had no idea something like this would be so difficult, but it makes sense. SO MUCH SENSE! Good for you for tackling it, family in tow and making the VERY MOST of your trip. It looked and sounded like a great time. Something tells me you will go again someday 😉


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