Surviving Airports in Sobriety

airports sober


Even those of us who love traveling would be hard-pressed to say that we love commercial air-transit, with its recycled air, cramped seating, plastic cutlery and tarmac wait times. Regardless of whether you love it or endure it, your trip need not compromise your sobriety. We’ve rounded up some tried-and-true tips to ensure you stay sober and breeze through the travel time.

  • Pick the best flight time possible

For most people, the ideal flight time  will be early enough in the day, but late enough to give you an adequate night’s sleep before you head off.  Flying out late at night could also be a trigger for drinking or using while you anxiously wait for your departure. A mid-day flight will not only help you avoid times when you might be tempted to use, but it will also place you within normal waking hours for comfortably reaching out to others for support, if necessary. In a nutshell, you want to avoid extremes.

  • Don’t Leave It To The Last Minute

Pack the day before and avoid last minute panics. By being packed when you wake up, you will start the day feeling organised and stress free. Start as you mean to go on!

  • Don’t be Late – or too Early

Check on your ticket to plan what time you need to arrive at the airport; it can vary from one to three hours prior to your flight. Aim to arrive on time. You have a long enough wait at the airport and if you arrive extra early, you will wait even longer. Airports can be challenging with duty free shopping and bars all around. Limit the time you might be  tempted!

Conversely, don’t arrive at the airport late because you will increase your stress levels unnecessarily. This is extremely important if stress is a big trigger for you.

  • Eat Beforehand

Not only can hunger be a trigger, if you choose to eat at the airport there is a good chance that the establishment will serve alcohol. If you absolutely must eat at the airport, opt for a coffee shop setting like a Starbucks or Costa Coffee.

airport sobriety packing 

  • Pack an Airport Bag

As well as making sure you have your passport, tickets and money, pack some items to keep you comfortable and entertained at the airport and during your flight. Comfort items might include a hoody, warm socks and an inflatable travel pillow. To stave off boredom take a book, e-reader, crossword puzzle or a selection of TV shows or movies loaded on to your devices.

  • Don’t Miss Out but Take a List

The only way to guarantee that you won’t buy duty free alcohol is not to go into the duty free shopping area – although at some airports, it is impossible to reach the gates without walking through them. If you want to go to duty free for perfumes, cosmetics or other items, take a list and get in and get out quickly. Stay focused on your list and do not be tempted to stray.

  • Check Out the Facilities

Check out the airport’s website prior to traveling and see  what facilities are available. Plan what you are going to do while you are there and stick with it. Knowing what to expect will help to boost your confidence.

airport sobriety

  • Do not Go it Alone

If you can, travel with a trusted, supportive person who does not drink or use, and who has a calming presence. If you do not know anyone suitable that can join you, investigate having a sober companion accompany you.

  • Feel the Fear and Prepare for it

If you are a nervous flier there are plenty of steps you can take to combat your fear. Avoid drinking caffeine on the day of your flight. Caffeine will exacerbate any anxiety you have. Get online and look up breathing exercises you can do to calm yourself down. There are meditation apps that you can use on your phone (take your ear plugs) that are specifically for staying calm and overcoming fear (Headspace). There are also several essential oils that you can use for a naturally calming effect, we recommend Stress Away and Valour by Young Living – these are also available in neat roll-ons that will fit in your carry on bag. Simply apply the roll-on to the inside of your wrists, temples and behind your ears.

  • Find a Spot and Get Settled

Locate the gate, find a seat nearby, and get settled in with your book / laptop / entertainment. If you are comfortable and engaged, you will be less tempted to wander.

avoid duty free sobriety

  • Plan a Video Call

A video call fulfils multiple purposes. It will help pass the time, it will take your mind off the upcoming flight AND it will hold you accountable. If you have a sponsor, ask them if they are available. If not, choose someone close to you who knows your circumstances.

video call sponsor  

  1. Stay Focused on Your Purpose

Watch the monitors, know where you need to be, and avoid last minute stress and the chance of missing a flight.

If you have an upcoming travel commitment and are concerned about maintaining your sobriety, look at our Sober Companion Options here, or contact us for a free, consultation to discuss your options.

For more information about our online programs, contact us via our online contact form. Or send up on email to

If you would prefer to phone us or send a What’s App message you can find our contact details here

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