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Sober Vacations, an Alternative Way to Travel

by Wednesday, December 2, 2015

When you day-dream about a vacation, most times you envision laying on a tropical beach, sipping some exotic alcohol beverage. Right? But what happens if you don’t drink? How could you possibly have fun? I used to think that too, but for the last three years I have done just that.  Sober vacations, an alternative way to travel, has many benefits that people may have never considered. thewanderlustyogi.net

Let me elaborate a bit.  Three years ago, actually closer to four now, I made a decision to eliminate alcohol from my life.  It was a choice I made for many reasons; health, lifestyle, past history alcoholism in my family and for clarity. When making that choice I didn’t really think about how this simple decision would trickle its way into every single aspect of my life.

Needless to say, it was a huge adjustment that I wasn’t aware of until things starting coming up. Little things such as not having wine at dinner, going out for drinks (seemed pointless), parties, holidays, concerts, Red Sox games, on vacations….and the list was endless. I didn’t notice until I stopped drinking on how much our society is completely focused around drinking. Before, my vacations would consist of nonstop binge drinking. “It’s okay, we are on vacation.” Well, at least that’s what I thought anyway.

I’d wake up with a mimosa, have drinks at lunch, drinks all day, wine at dinner and then even more drinks all night.  I’m not sure how I did it to be honest, but I do remember spending many days of my vacation nursing a hangover, canceling early morning excursions and just feeling foggy and cruddy during the days. Only to come back from vacation ending up sick from exhaustion and letting my immune system go to shit.

After all, this was what a fun vacation was all about! Until I realized how much more fun the experience could be taking sober vacations. Now I’m not writing this to convince anyone this is how you should vacation. Most of you will think I’m nuts for even considering this type of vacation, especially hard-core backpackers and the younger travelers, I get it. This is all you do on vacation, I know. I am however, older and have learned a lot through my years and found that experiencing my travels with a clear head and choosing a healthy lifestyle is what makes me happy now. I just wanted to share a different perspective of travel than you usually hear about.

So, are you intrigued? If so I’m sure you are thinking about what do I actually do then? I came up with a list of things I do instead of the usually drinking times, which was ALL times. This example is if I was at a tropical beach destination. (It varies depending on location, obviously.)thewanderlustyogi.net


drinking vacation: wake up, usually late and feeling like crap, but ordered a mimosa or a bloody Mary with breakfast. “Hair of the dog always does the trick..NOT!” Oh yeah and tons of strong coffee…’gotta get myself up and going’. “Did anyone pack Advil?”

sober vacation: wake up, do yoga on the beach (if I was on one) or in my hotel/airbnb, take a walk or jog and probably be up at sunrise before everyone else catching a glimpse of the sun starting to peek out. “My pictures during this time of day are always so beautiful”, I think to myself. Plus I get to enjoy the peacefulness of some alone time, which is aways good for the soul.


drinking vacation: mid-morning- was supposed to go snorkeling, but felt a bit queasy and too tired, so I decide to sleep on the beach, with orders of Corona’s of coarse…keep them coming.

sober vacation: mid-morning-snorkeling and swimming and having a great time in the sun with my friends and family. I capture lots of great underwater pictures.


drinking vacation: lunchtime yay, the food looks amazing, but the drinks look even better. I think I’ll get one of each. No room for food. I need a nap.

sober vacation: lunchtime yay, the food looks amazing. I want to order the most authentic food that is of this location. This is great and I love learning about a place through its food. “I think I’ll take some food porn photos and write about it, maybe even make it at home to remember this awesome place I was fortunate enough to visit? Yes, I am definitely going to do that.”


 drinking vacation: late-afternoon- more napping, with interval periods of drinks. The view looks pretty but I’m too out of it to take it all in, nevermind capture the moment by taking a photo. “Where is my pina colada?”

sober vacation: late-afternoon- “I’m pretty full from my amazing lunch, I think I’ll go for a hike and then a swim, maybe even take in some footage or photos of this beautiful place.” After that I’ll relax on the beach reading and enjoy a smoothie.  So refreshing and rehydrating.


drinking vacation: dinnertime-Getting ready is a major chore. I fell asleep on the beach and now have a weird-looking sunburn on only one side of my body. Great! I also feel very dehydrated and bloated. “Do we really have to get all ready to go for dinner?” Seems like too much effort.“Yes, we do.” Dinner looks good, but I’m not really hungry. I think I’ll order some more yummy drinks, That should make me feel better. Yup, “I’m on a second wind..I can’t wait to go out tonight, my sunburn doesn’t even hurt anymore!”

sober vacation: dinnertime -I’m excited to try out one of the many dining options. “Lets go to the hibachi sushi place!” That sounds like fun. I get ready, feeling a little glow from being kissed by the sun. I go to the sushi place, meet and talk to a bunch of new folks from all over the world and have a blast.


drinking vacations: drinks, drinks and more drinks. “Let’s go dancing”.… I don’t remember the rest.

sober vacation: We go shopping a little in the local markets and then see a live show. After that, we go for a cappuccino and walk on the beach at sunset.  I sit and do a mini-meditation thinking about the gratitude I feel for being where I am, trying to take it all in. ” I am so thankful for this great day, I can’t wait for tomorrow!”

That scenario is just an example of  typical, tropical vacation of mine, both ways; drinking and non-drinking. I know it sounds pretty extreme. Evidentially, I  guess I really drank a lot?  I didn’t even notice how much I drank on vacation until writing it all on paper (well, you know what I mean?) and what it did to me physically and emotionally. I’m actually a bit embarrassed. I’m sure not all people drink like that on vacation, but I did, and many that I have traveled with did too.  I thought that this is what you are supposed to do to enjoy yourself, when in reality, it was to excess. It dampened my experience and dulled every aspect of my vacation.thewanderlustyogi.net

The first time I experienced a sober vacation, I’m not going to lie, it was hard. I was so out of my element and didn’t even know what to do with myself. It was so foreign to me to not go find the swim up bar or order a drink the second I got to my destination. After readjusting my ways, I found it very empowering almost. I was able to enjoy just being somewhere without having to have a frosty beverage in hand to have fun, where many others couldn’t dream of doing that. I became very aware that most vacations are designed for drinking (isn’t that where they make all their money?), and almost everything revolves around it.

It really does take a conscious effort to live an alternative lifestyle and you have to be able to handle the comments and awkward encounters when you tell people you don’t drink.  I’m not sure why this makes people so uncomfortable? What do they care if I don’t drink? That doesn’t mean they can’t. It’s a weird thing, but I get more and more used to it.thewanderlustyogi.net

This post wasn’t written as a “don’t drink on vacation post”. If that’s what you like to do on vacation, by all means, cheers to you. I just wanted to show that there are alternatives to vacationing styles that people may not even considered before.  As a travel blogger I noticed that this subject is kind of overlooked and I’d like to shine some light on it, especially for those who perhaps, have just became sober and are looking for a way to adjust to their new lifestyle, vacations included.

The best thing that I can can say about sober vacations is not just that I feel happier, healthier, fully present, and I get to see things in a whole new perspective, but I save so much money, it is ridiculous! I can literally do two vacations now, at the same cost as one before. And to me, that is priceless!

Have you ever gone on a sober vacation?

Here are a few links for sober travel:









Traveling Through Terror

by Monday, November 30, 2015

Over the last few days, due to the horrific events that has happened in Paris and Beirut, my normally excited, cheerful wander-lusting, women’s travel group https://www.facebook.com/groups/girlswhotravel/, has now become scared. Many sharing their condolences, some stories of first hand accounts, and others now considering rerouting or canceling, all together, future travel plans. Traveling through terror is something that many women, or men for that matter, are afraid to do.

This is understandable, but also very sad. The normally, bubbly and enthusiastic globetrotting girls, are,  instead of talking about upcoming trips, and sharing amazing photos of exotic locations, are now asking advice on if they should go on their previously planned trip to Paris or anywhere in Europe at all.  Many are talking about all of the deaths and some are discussing the bigotry that has now, and sadly, not surprising, that has spiked against Muslims.thewanderlustyogi.net

One girl shared that she was in the club when the attacks happened and laid on top of dead bodies, pretending she was dead to save herself. It was very scary to hear about and we were all so happy that she was okay. Another Muslim girl shared that since the attacks, she has been kicked out of another travel group because of her race[religion]. It was awful to hear and we all gave her words of comfort and acceptance.


shirt worn by a girl who was at the nightclub in Paris when the terrorists attacked (she played dead, lying on dead bodies)

Now these women, are in reality, strangers. I don’t think I’ve met any of them personally, all except the four girls that I encouraged to join the group, but we all feel like sisters.

It’s a very weird and beautiful thing. There are  over 20,000 active members worldwide in the girls who travel group; coming from all races, religions, socioeconomic backgrounds, ages, belief systems, etc,  yet this group has that common bond of the love of travel. We give each other travel advice, inspire each other that we can travel solo, support each other during breakups or hardships, and come together during a crisis, like we did when a girl was mugged at knife-point in Sri Lanka and came to us for help.  The outpouring of assistance made me so proud to be a member of this group. We were able to give her the phone numbers and address of her Embassy and contacted her mother. Thankfully she is totally fine and after her return home, updated us that she was okay, and how appreciative she was from all of our support.thewanderlustyogi.net

Many of these girls have since joining the group, have done meet-ups and some became long-term travel partners. I hope to someday, through my travels, end up meeting one of these lovely ladies. This group has something magical about it. Most of us can’t go a day without popping in just to say hello or read some advice or a story that one of us has shared.

Through this group, I have been inspired to  finally get the courage to take my first solo trip, which is coming in just two short weeks, to Belize.  This group also helped me find an amazing travel steal, where I got tickets from Boston to San Jose, Costa Rica, roundtrip for $150.00!!  This group also gave me insight on places I my have never considered visiting before, such as Tel Aviv or places I have never heard of, like Seychelles. I also felt a connection when girls would share their heartfelt break up stories and how travel gave them a new lease on life.


Seychelles, Africa

Since I started writing this post a few weeks ago, I stopped it altogether, midway. I was at a point where my social media was a constant stream of bigotry, anger and hatred. I literally needed to just get away from it all. I decided it was best for me to go on a social media detox for a few weeks, to reset and regroup my emotional state and disconnect a bit.thewanderlustyogi.net

This was one of the best decisions I’ve made in a long time.  I was in tune with my body enough to notice that the emotional distress I was having, due to all of the upsetting things I was reading, was actually taking a toll on my health. I couldn’t sleep, I had trouble eating, I felt teary at times, out of the blue, I felt agitated and extremely stressed.thewanderlustyogi.net

In my absence from social media; I read, spent quality time with my family and friends, where I was actually completely present, I meditated, did yoga and through this I felt a subtle change happening in my body. It was a cleansing and it was exactly what I needed.




The Ultimate Yogi DVD collection by Travis Elliot-my favorite go to yoga/mediation fix


Now that I am back, I am happy to report that although things in the media are still heated and distressing, my girls who travel group is back to its old self again. I was so relieved and happy to see, that the massive posts of asking if people should cancel their trips, were now filled with stories and pictures of girls on their travels all over the world, some even in Paris. This made me smile.


me in Paris at the “love lock bridge” near Notre Dame last August (2014)

This world can sometimes be a very cruel and scary place, but when you think about all the good it has, you realize that the world can continue to hold beauty and love if you choose to seek it out.thewanderlustyogi.net



I went to India and Didn’t Do YOGA!

by Friday, September 25, 2015

Qutub Minar


Last April I went to New Delhi, India with my daughter Maddie for a mother/daughter trip. Why we chose India as one of our stops on our bonding journey you ask?  Because of YOGA. India is the birthplace of this physical, mental and spiritual practice or discipline.  Ever since yoga entered our lives three years ago, we have been drawn to visit this auspicious country of its origin. When we started to plan our trip and searching destinations to visit, India was on the top of our list.

India not only had YOGA, but it had so many other things to offer us by visiting:

  • Taj Mahal
  • Indian food
  • Indian culture
  • temples
  • the people
  • broaden our perspective



I can go on for days, like my friends and family know, on the reasons why YOGA can benefit a person’s overall health and how it has improved my life. When I took my first “official” yoga class in 2012 (I have done yoga through the years using at-home videos), I knew that something special was occurring in me and I embraced it wholeheartedly. I actually didn’t even know or understand what was happening when I experienced this phenomenon, as they call it, the “yoga high” and it was an epiphany. I felt a complete connection with my physical, mental, and spiritual body and my surroundings. It was like I was one with the Universe. I know this sounds very hippie and over-the-top for some, ( and most will think I’m crazy, they do anyway) but its my truth and what happened to me.

It was then, that I realized what all the hype was with yoga, and really began to understand its purpose.  This practice wasn’t just an Indian, turned American-style fitness program to get rock hard abs and a firmer butt. It has actually nothing to do with that. Yes, practicing YOGA will strengthen your muscles and aid in weight-loss, as well as many other things, but it was so much more. It was love.  Universal love.

Due to this incredible experience I went through, I had to learn more about what was happening to my body, mind and spirit through YOGA. So, I went to google (as any other person would to find information). To my surprise there were boat loads of studies and research on this exact subject. I began reading everything I could. I read books, listened to podcasts and watch TED talks. I felt like I was a researcher myself and I had to do something with my findings.

I enrolled in yoga teacher training.

I felt like I was receiving a calling that I had to share with the world. I knew I not only received the gift of YOGA at the exact time I needed it, but I was drawn to take this gift and give it away. I felt like there was a higher purpose of why this all happened to me and I wanted to help others, in the same I was helped through YOGA.

Here are examples of just some of the proven benefits that YOGA can do for the body:

  • supplement cancer treatments
  • soothes insomnia
  • lowers blood pressure
  • prevents heart disease
  • alleviates arthritis
  • improve circulation
  • balances hormones
  • lower triglyceride count
  • improves respiration
  • combats osteoporosis
  • relieves diabetes
  • engages the autistic
  • relieves fibromyalgia
  • treat bronchitis

For me, yoga healed me of depression and anxiety. Another condition that yoga can treat, proven by science. If you think I am making this up or its all in my head, I will  show just one study of many. This study I wanted to share with you was done in 2009 by Harvard researchers on how yoga aids in the  treatment of depression and anxiety. Here’s the link: (http://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression).

Just for fun I wanted to also share a youtube video of another Harvard researcher’s study, Sara Lazar PhD, on how yoga and meditation can effect the brain. (below)

Dr. Sara Lazar PhD (Harvard), discussing “How Meditation can Reshape Our Brain” in a TEDtalks presentation 2011.


I used to be embarrassed or ashamed,  and not want to share why I fell in love with yoga and what it has done for my life, because of the stigma, still today, of the subject of depression. Then I realized that if I share this with people and if it helps, even one other person,  I am spreading the joy that yoga has brought into my life and possibly be bringing into others’ lives. For this reason, I had (have) to.


I am aware that not all people will have this kind of experience. For instance, I told one of my friends how much I love yoga and was bubbling over with excitement about it, and told her how it has literally changed my life!  Her response was, “Oh, I hate yoga. It’s so boring” Clearly, not the response I was hoping for, but we all are different and some things work for some people, that don’t work for others.

My daughter may not have had the life-changing experience as I did through yoga, but she definitely did love it as well, and knew the benefits yoga could bring to her overall wellness,  not to mention, she felt great doing it! She also saw what it has done for my life and knew there was something special about it.




Ganga Aarti, at Parmarth Niketan ashram, on the banks of the Ganges River

When we set India in stone on our itinerary, we knew we wanted to do the tourist-type things for our first visit. We had to, of course, check off  a bucket list  item, Taj Mahal,  but were super excited to visit an ashram in Rishikesh, in hopes to have a magical experience there.  We thought about how cool it would be to take a yoga class, right in the World’s epicenter of yoga and sit along the banks of the Ganges, while being part of the Ganga Aarti,  nightly ritual,  and thought that this might be an experience of a lifetime, possibly even be a spiritual one.

We made arrangements to stay at the Parmarth Niketan Ashram (www.parmarth.org), probably the most well-known one. We were to stay two nights on our five nights in India. The other days we would sight-see in New Delhi. We thought it would be the perfect balance of getting a glimpse of the spiritual side and cultural side of India.

Problem: Rishikesh happened to be a 7-8 hour drive from New Delhi, or even more if you understand the road conditions and driving in India.  Our hired driver didn’t go that far. We could, however, take a train or a flight, but it wasn’t going to be an easy task to accomplish. When considering the dangers of taking an overnight train (being females) we thought that may be too risky to do, not to mention, time-consuming.  As far as taking a flight, we really weren’t anticipating that kind of expense, especially being only one of the stops on our 3 part (three country), 2 week tour .

It wasn’t going to happen this trip.



Although on this trip, we didn’t get to visit an ashram and do yoga with the descendants of historical yoga gurus, we did however, enjoy the other things that India showed us. We got to see the magnificent Taj Mahal, that no words can justify its awe-inspiring beauty. We got to visit temples and historic sites, and eat the fragrant and uniquely spiced foods of this land. We got to see poverty up close and personal, which to most, seems like a bad thing, but to us it gave us an overwhelming feeling of compassion, empathy and gratitude. We got to meet amazing people like our driver, Ramen, that we got to know over the five days we spent with him, whose story was so touching.


rickshaw ride in Old Delhi

Ramen had to leave his wife and family behind in his tiny village, so he could work in New Deli, because there are no jobs where he lives.  He worked in 4 month stretches and missed them so much. He was counting down the days until he would see them again. He loved talking about his babies and when he spoke (with his broken English) of them, the smile on his face and the sparkle in his eyes, were enough to understand what he meant. 

We got to drive in rickshaws and be driven to places that I’ve only seen in books or in movies. All of these experiences and special humans we got to interact with, made this trip to India worthwhile and unforgettable.


Taj Mahal, Agra, India


Visiting India was an incredible experience, that has only made me want to go back again. After being fortunate enough to visit a Wonder of the World and being in a place that is so unlike my home,  it solidified some of the reasons why I love travel so much. It’s to learn and grow.  The next time I go to India, I will plan it to be at a yoga ashram and allow the magic of yoga to engulf me.

Until then, I will practice yoga wherever I am in this world. I have learned that I didn’t have to travel thousand of miles away, to far off Holy Lands, to gain the knowledge and benefits of yoga.  It was always right here.  In me.


me doing yoga on vacation in Southern California- namaste!

All I had to do was step on my mat.


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