Holiday Checklist for Traveling During Recovery

Photo of frustrated woman in her car covered in snow
This entry was posted in Addiction & Recovery, Blog on .

It’s here!

The most wonderful time of the year.

From November through New Year’s Day, people around the U.S. go all -in, and celebrate the holiday season. There are plenty of holidays for everyone to celebrate:


  • This holiday kicks everything off with a festival of light – and fireworks – early in the month of November. Diwali is a five-day event, and the most important holiday for people of the Hindu faith.


  • Thanksgiving occurs on the third Thursday in November. This is our best excuse all year to eat way too much good food, spend quality time with friends and family, and take stock of all the things for which we feel grateful.


  • Hannukah is between December 7th and December 15th this year. Hanukkah is an eight-day festival for people of the Jewish faith to celebrate the historic victory of the Maccabees over their Seleucidian occupiers in the year 139, BC.


  • Christmas is on December 25th. People of the Christian faith celebrate the birth of their prophet, Jesus Christ, on Christmas Day.


  • Kwanzaa is from December 26th 2023 to January 1st, 2024. Kwanzaa is an Afrocentric (focused on African history, culture, and traditions) celebration of family values. The word means “first” and the holiday is based on South African traditions called first-fruits celebrations. Click here to learn about the Seven Principles of Kwanzaa.

New Year’s Day

  • The first holiday of the year, on the first day of the year. Make your resolutions, eat black-eyed peas, and watch the good fortune come your way.

Whatever your cultural background is, and whatever you celebrate, there’s no escaping it. During December in the U.S., the holidays take over everything. School close for two weeks. People get time off work. People travel near and far to see family or get away from it all. In New York City, Rockefeller Center fills with the lights of an enormous Christmas trees and people ice-skating between sips of hot cocoa. In Chicago, the downtown loop transforms into a beautiful pageant of lights and decorations for blocks and blocks on end. And around the country, from small towns to subdivisions to neighborhoods everywhere, people put up lights, decorations, and celebrate the season.

Make Your List, Check it Twice

If it doesn’t drive you up a wall, it really is the most wonderful time of the year. But if you’re in recovery from addiction – a diagnosed alcohol and/or substance use disorder (AUD/SUD) – and you plan to travel to see friends, there are some important things for you to remember. You can have a great holiday and keep your recovery alive, but it may be challenging.

That’s why we created this list.

Checklist: Things to Remember if You’re in Recovery and Traveling Over the Holidays

  1. If you have opioid use disorder (OUD) and you participate in a medication-assisted treatment program (MAT) with medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), traveling can be extremely complicated. To learn how to ensure you have the proper medication at the proper time and proper dosage, please navigate to the blog section of our website and read this article:

How To Vacation While on Medication-Assisted Treatment

  1. Make a plan to handle any triggers you might experience. Read these two articles for ideas:

Managing Holiday Triggers to Keep Your Recovery Intact

How to Handle Holiday Triggers

  1. Make a list of AA or NA meetings in your destination:
    • Meeting are literally everywhere. No matter where you go, you can find a meeting. And since the pandemic, virtual meetings are easy to find. No excuses: keep up with your meetings while you travel over the holidays.
  1. Maintain the good habits you know promote your recovery:
    • If exercise is what keeps you on your program, then look for places to work out in your destination city: you can guest at the YMCA, do a free one-day trial at gyms like LA Fitness, or simply plan to keep working out on your own.
    • If yoga or meditation is what works for you, we have the same advice. Plan ahead, find a yoga studio or meditation center in your destination, have a look at the schedule, and go take a class.
  1. Arrange for counseling or therapy via telehealth:
    • If your destination lacks resources, you can keep your recovery on track by scheduling virtual therapy or counseling sessions with your addiction counselor, therapist, or psychiatrist.
  1. Call you support system:
    • If everything on the list above fails to give you the support you need, then pick up your phone and call your sponsor or a recovery peer: remember, it’s the holidays for them, too, so they know exactly what you’re going through.

Traveling during recovery can be tough.

We get it.

You work hard to create a healthy routine, and then the holidays come along, and travel comes along, and throws a ginormous monkey wrench in the works – but the holidays don’t have to be disruptive. Use our list above, be proactive, plan ahead, and you can make it through the rest of November, all of December, and arrive at New Year’s Day with your recovery fully intact.

The materials provided on the Pinnacle Blog are for information and educational purposes only. No behavioral health or any other professional services are provided through the Blog and the information obtained through the Blog is not a substitute for consultation with a qualified health professional. If you are in need of medical or behavioral health treatment, please contact a qualified health professional directly, and if you are in need of emergency help, please go to your nearest emergency room or dial 911.