10 Experiences Better Without Alcohol
By Karolina Rzadkowolska
It seems these days there is no experience that alcohol hasn’t tagged along with. As ubiquitous as drinking is, we’re made to believe that certain experiences are MADE FUN by drinking.
Yes, parties and nights out, but also movie theaters and yoga classes?
Um, not in my experience. Turn your assumptions on your head because these experiences are actually way. better. without. alcohol.
Let’s get real. First, drink 36 oz of diuretics right before bed in an attempt to have a good time around the campfire. Next, wake up in the middle of the night, in the woods, in the woods that have bears, because you have to pee. Get off your slowly deflating air mattress, put on your shoes, make sure the dog doesn’t escape from the tent, try not to wake up your partner, find some toilet paper, and then get out and crouch in the dark spot (or if you’re really brave, walk to the bathroom) and hope you can fall back asleep after this ordeal.
Uhh. The worst. Now that I’m not drinking 3-4 or 4-5 drinks before bedtime? I sleep through the whole night in the tent. Plus wake up feeling refreshed when the birds start singing at 6 a.m. and not frustrated at the noise disturbing my sleep. Feeling alive to go on a hike and or just breathe in the air of pines and campfire smoke. There is just no comparison.
2. Work trips
There’s nothing like a 6 a.m. alarm clock in a time zone ahead of yours after even one or two drinks the night before. But I never learned my lesson because I’m in a new city and bedtimes don’t matter and expensive cocktails with dinner to live it up! Work trips had always seemed so much more exhausting than work at home. While yes, traveling and long days add to it all, if I didn’t drink I would wake up each morning refreshed and not wondering which time zone I’m in. It turns out, I’m far more capable AND delighted to be where I am without alcohol.
My family does a big Christmas Eve, filled with multiple courses, presents and lots of wine. Meaning that I have way too many memories of waking up on Christmas morning feeling like absolute shit. Just one of the biggest holidays of the year (in my family) and I was always under the weather. Each year I would set myself up not to fail. This would be the year I will wake up feeling great on Christmas day. And sometimes I would succeed. Sometimes, I would wake up feeling just a little bit shitty on Christmas Day. Woohoo.
4. Bachelorette Parties
How many times did I drink too much to not even enjoy myself? Instead of hanging by the pool or actually being engaged with people, I remember sleeping “it off” from the night before. I’ve never ever felt good on a bachelorette weekend away (which should feel like a vacation shouldn’t it?) because it’s always involved too much alcohol. There was the time I passed out at the pool. The time I threw up. Or the time I don’t remember going to bed. And all the times I felt like I aged 100 years in one day and could not for the life of me get excited to do any of the activities.
Sure, bachelor/bachelorette parties are made to get a little crazy. But can’t we come up with a better way to have fun and out of our routines without making ourselves physically ill?
If there’s just one reason why you go alcohol-free, trust me, mornings a huge contender. There is just no comparison. I used to wake up at the last moment possible to get up for work. But no, that’s not really true, because I was already waking up all night from the alcohol knowing how little time there was to sleep it off and feel rested and okay the next day. Or on nights I didn’t drink, I still wrestled with the alarm fighting valiantly to make up for the sleep I lost over the weekend. Today I sleep like a baby. And my morning is the best time of day. I wake up early to do the things that make me happiest: like write, meditate, and journal, plus some affirmations and visualizations to really make it count.
When you’re a drinker, there is no worst time of the day, being sleep deprived and feeling the worst effects of alcohol. As a nondrinker, mornings are bliss and really set you up for a successful day.
There is such a beauty to life when you’re not living for the weekend. I mean seriously, why wish time could go faster each and every week only to hit the weekend so you can escape the life you were wishing away anyways?
I love my weekends. I also wake up early to do my favorite things and enjoy coffee on my deck. It’s so glorious. Later, I do tons of things that were never on my radar. Like go to the zoo, sober women’s social events, and entrepreneur meetups. But to be honest, I don’t feel such a huge difference between the weekend and the weekdays. I actually wake up every morning (or most mornings) pretty excited to be alive.
I thought I hated concerts. There was the 17 dollar beers, the long lines for the bathroom, and the drunkenness I experienced from pre-partying to avoid those 17 dollar beers. As a 30 something women, I just thought concerts were not my thing. Something for my wilder younger version to enjoy.
But sober concerts are a revelation. You don’t have to spend any money on expensive drinks. You can actually remember the set list. You can sing and dance at the top of your lungs just because it feels good. You can drive yourself home, and even though it will probably be a little late, you’ll be just fine tomorrow morning.
While I didn't hate going to the movies as a drinker, it just wasn't my thing. I'd much rather stay at home and watch a movie where I could have the convenience of drinking wine. Oh, and it's not like I went to movies without drinks! I would inevitably bring a bottle of wine to split with my partner. But the bottle always seemed to go too fast and the movie too painfully slow. It was nothing like the comfort of being in my own home and knowing I'm in control of the supply.
I have fallen in love with going to movies again. I feel tapped into the spirit of the popcorn and the cinema just like a child. I don’t zone out of the movie and mindlessly think about a zillion other things (my buzzed brain loved to do this). Clearheaded all the way, I actually get into the characters or the beauty of the cinematography.
9. Pool/Beach Days
I used to think THE life was sitting by the pool all day with drinks flowing. Except I always forgot what happened after that. Headaches. Passing out. And completely ruining my evening plans. I remember the last time I was in Puerto Penasco, Mexico and day drank by the pool all day. I had been so excited to try the gourmet restaurant at the resort and it was the last night of the trip. Instead? Instead, I got a rocking headache by 6 p.m. and went straight to bed, no dinner for me. I also vaguely remember the day and didn’t go on any of the swims or walks I was planning on.
What do you do when you’re not experiencing the local drinking culture? Literally everything else and more, because I’ve never had a drinking vacation that didn’t end up getting soured by alcohol in some way. There’s no fun to waking up in a random hotel in Europe with a hangover. There’s no fun to sightseeing all day with a miserable weariness. Is there really any fun either in traveling halfway across the world to sit in a bar?
Sober vacations are a godsend, where you actually get to relax, rest, and see interesting things. They are simply magical.
Why not test it out and see what’s better? Take a month off alcohol this summer and experience the joy of being fully alive.