How to Stick With Dry January When Traveling, According to Experts

Ditching alcohol this month? Here are some tips and benefits of staying on track.

<p>Daria Arnautova/EyeEm/Getty Images</p>

Daria Arnautova/EyeEm/Getty Images

For everyone who's vowed to skip alcohol this month, as part of the popular post-holiday tradition of Dry January, factoring in any travel may seem daunting — but thankfully, passing up a cocktail while on-the-go may be easier than you think.

While on a trip, travelers are possibly less in control of their surroundings or could lack knowledge of local restaurant and bar fare — which may cause a Dry January participant to cave — but according to Hilary Sheinbaum, the author of "The Dry Challenge," it's possible to navigate a sober situation.

“I had coconuts without any alcohol mixed in them, while my roommate at the time was sipping pretty," Sheinbaum told Travel + Leisure of her first Dry January trip in 2017."I was still just having a blast on the beach and I was really sober.”

Fast forward to 2023, the author said things have only improved in terms of more restaurants and bars out there offering non-alcoholic options — but still has some tips for travelers choosing to not imbibe.

“If you know you’re not going to be drinking, it’s really important to do research," she said. "If you're with a group of people that you know loves to go out and you want to participate in the same activities, whether that's going to the beach or going to a bar, look at the menus [ahead of time, or] you can certainly memorize some [mocktail] recipes."

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To kick back with a mocktail at home, Sheinbaum recommends Freixenet Sparkling White and Sparkling Rose, Giesen 0% non-alcoholic wines, and Starla Alcohol-Removed Wines to name a few. You could even opt for a non-alcoholic option from a celebrity like Blake Lively’s Betty Buzz (now available at Whole Foods and on Amazon) or De Soi, the line of non-alcoholic sparkling apéritifs co-founded by Katy Perry.

And when it comes to specific places with great menu options for non-drinkers, The Williamsburg Hotel in Brooklyn — which has four non-alcoholic beverages on their menu — and the Andaz Maui at Wailea are on her list.

A major part of the appeal of Dry January is the numerous health benefits such as skin rejuvenation, improved blood sugar and cholesterol levels, optimized organ function, renewed energy, and decreased depression, neuropsychologist Dr. Sanam Hafeez told Travel + Leisure.

“Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps us feel joyful and stabilizes our mood," she said. "Drinking alcohol can temporarily boost serotonin levels, therefore making you feel upbeat. Still, the long-term excessive consumption of alcohol can lower serotonin levels, and therefore either cause or worsen depression."

Staying away from booze also has other healthy effects when it comes to getting some shut eye as alcohol actually inhibits your REM sleep and affects your circadian rhythm, Hafeez explained.

“Sleep is so valuable, especially  when you're traveling and your time zones may be getting mixed up so when it comes to alcohol, I never drink on planes," she said. "I think that just abstaining while traveling makes things a bit more seamless and makes me less anxious if something goes wrong. I am much more able to keep my cool if a flight is delayed."

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