Now the weather's warming up, we all start thinking about our summer holidays. And, if you're newly sober, you're probably starting to panic.
I get it. I was the same. Packing for my first sober holiday, I remember resigning myself to the fact that it wasn't going to be fun at all. What was the point of a holiday if you couldn't let your hair down and go wild?
For over two decades, summer holidays were associated in my head with a loosening of all the rules. All those things I usually told myself I really shouldn't do were now completely acceptable because I was on holiday!
I could drink as much as I wanted every day, even starting before lunch time. I could party every night and stay out as long as I liked. I could go wild on the dance floor and be totally inappropriate, since I'd be unlikely to see anyone in the club again. All bets were off.
I once behaved so badly after a tequila party in Mexico (there was nudity involved) that I woke the girlfriend I was travelling with at dawn and told her we had to be on the first bus out of town.
So, when you start thinking about your first holiday without booze, it's really hard to picture what it's going to be like. The carousel of holiday snaps in your head all feature alcohol.
But here's the truth: Sober holidays are WAY BETTER. Ask anyone who's been sober for a while if you don't believe me. Here's why:
1. There's more holiday to enjoy
On my boozy holidays, I would spend much of the morning asleep or hungover. And after midnight, everything was a bit of a blur. So there were only about seven or eight hours of the day when I'd be on good form.
On sober holidays, I usually get up at around 7am, because the sun's up, I'm in a beautiful place and I have things to do. Then I'll crash at around 10pm. That gives me fifteen hours each day that I can really make the most of.
So now, my holidays are TWICE AS LONG!
2. You can really appreciate your kids
If you have children, you'll know that on drinking holidays you end up spending a fair amount of time avoiding them. There's nothing better than a hotel kids club when you're hungover, or wanting to get stuck into the vino over lunch.
In the evenings, I'd always try to feed the kids early and get them into bed, so we could let our hair down and not worry about moderating our behaviour or language or drinking.
Now, the children and I are on the same wavelength on holiday. We don't have different agendas. We'll swim together, surf together, eat all our meals together.
By the end of the holiday it feels like we're a watertight little gang.
3. You can strengthen relationships
If you're going away with your partner or friends, then sober holidays are a great time to properly reconnect - to spend lots of time talking, to find out what's really going on in their lives and to share all your hopes and dreams.
When you're drinking, you don't tend to do that.
You might have some fun memories of wild nights out to share, but it's quite likely that you'll never talk about the things that matter, or even that you'll end up having drunken arguments and with simmering resentments.
4. You can experience new things
When your idea of holidays is only about booze, food and parties, you tend not to bother to organise much in the way of exploring - at least I never did.
When you holiday sober, you plan more outings, go on more adventures, look for new experiences.
What is the point of going away if you're going to do just the same things that you do at home?
5. You come home feeling better than when you left.
I used to joke on returning from holidays that I needed another holiday to recover.
It was true! I'd come back feeling tired, fat, toxic and, often, regretful.
When you come back from a sober holiday, having had lots of sleep, sun, exercise and great food, you're refreshed, revitalised, and raring to go.
The trick is to redefine your idea of what holidays are about.
They won't be the same, its true. They won't be so much about letting your hair down, going wild and getting trashed.
What they will be about is the things that really matter - looking after yourself, building relationships and making memories. And those things will keep you strong over the months that follow, if times get tough.
So please don't worry about holidaying without booze. It's going to be amazing.
By the way, Laurie McAllister interviewed me last week for her Not Drinking Diaries on her fabulous blog Girl and Tonic which you can find here. If you don't yet follow her, you're missing out, she's amazing!
If you need any holiday reading, you can buy The Sober Diaries here (UK), here (USA), or here (Australia).
Lots of love to you all,