FREE ALCOHOL!! or ‘Alcohol Free’ Travel for 90 days!

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FREE ALCOHOL!! or ‘Alcohol Free’ Travel for 90 days!

The 90 day Alcohol-Free Challenge was Successfully completed on March 22nd, 2013!

It’s that time of year again! New Years resolutions are in full bloom, and people are trying to figure out what they’re going to be aiming to do for at least the first week of the new year. Diets! Exercise! World Peace! The usual stuff. For me, I think this just came at a time when I felt low on energy and in need of a tune up & some maintenance. After my last alcohol free challenge, I never really picked it up in full swing again. No waiting for the weekend to go party (or more often the case, not even waiting for the weekend). I’ve since drank socially, and very infrequently. A very nice adjustment to both the wallet and the liver, in comparison to my days back in Canada where it had become the norm to go out 3+ times a WEEK with co-workers!

Alcohol Free - partying with old friends

“Old habits die hard!” Catching up with some of Toronto’s finest – booze was definitely involved.

I tried going out a few times in the past little while with old friends. Although I had a great time with them – the unfortunate realities sank in quickly:

  • My tolerance has disappeared. In reality, I would probably now be drunk off one large Singha beer… so why did I push that limit?
  • Old habits die hard. Getting together with old mates often brings back old habits. We drank like we used to. My body paid the consequences… for days! Sick that night, hungover the next day, and sore the day after.
  • We don’t get any younger. *Sigh*. You’d think after all my travels I’d have realized that the fountain of youth is not filled with rum and coke. It comes from treating your body like a temple, and respecting it as such.
Alcohol Free - Passing out in Chiang Mai

An exceptionally shameful picture during some New Year’s shenanigans should be reason enough! “This was ME???”

The Alcohol Free Challenge

So, the answer seems quite simple. Just don’t drink as much. Though this is sometimes easier said than done, given the setting you’re in. Sometimes one can just sit comfortably knocking back icy cold beers on the beach, or sipping some wine over dinner, without even realizing the amount consumed until it’s too late. Going completely alcohol free removes that possibility from happening. It will put you in an interesting state of mind when meeting new people, when going to social events, and your perspective on night life when you’re one step removed from it.

Alcohol Free - Chang Beer in the village

Even in an Akha Hilltribe, having the occasional beer was the norm.

From my past experience, I learned how so many people treat alcohol as a vessel for social engagement. I was confronted on a couple occasions by people who were incredibly friendly, and by no means alcoholics, but could not understand how I could refuse the offering of a beer during a beach party, or during a giant festival. It actually made them uncomfortable to a certain degree. It’s a fascinating journey into the human psyche. This really challenges your own will and inner strength. I persevered and felt stronger because of it. Of course we still managed to have a good time, but there was the odd duck who just couldn’t understand it or accept it. Well… that seems to be a good filter for those I choose to have in my life then. A true friend should be able to support your decisions through any choice you make in life (as long as they’re non-damaging to yourself, of course). It becomes a great social experiment, though some of the realities may be quite black and white at times.

There’s no question about the health benefits associated with being alcohol free. Even after just a few big nights out over the past couple months, I already feel more susceptible to ailment and have gotten sick (twice!) for the first time in over a year! This is a definite driving force behind the challenge and one which I know will be the push needed to see it through to the end.

I think the hardest part of going alcohol free, as mentioned, is being in the company of friends, new and old. Especially while on the road. If you bump into an old friend, what better way to enjoy the encounter than sit around for a few hours over some beers and catch up on life happenings? Or after encountering someone new, hitting it off during a day of snorkelling, jungle hiking, bathing elephants, or whatever it is you’ve bonded over… now the evening sets in, and your new group of friends want you to join them for a frosty one at the local watering hole. “Oh, I’m trying to go alcohol free for a few months” are some difficult words to hear yourself utter… sadly.

Alcohol Free - booze wagons in Bangkok

Booze wagons are everywhere in Bangkok! Temptation shows her cards.

You may start to find distain in the drunken behaviour you observe in your sobriety (realizing “That was ME???” is never a nice awakening). The feelings of good fitness you may feel can be overwhelming. It becomes hard to imagine not being alcohol free and reverting to feelings of lethargy and fatigue you may have experienced before. But there’s still that little itch. That lure. That sense of wanting conformity is almost inevitable in some circumstances. It IS possible! My last 3 month challenge actually turned into 4 months, as I didn’t want to start drinking again while travelling in the presence of my friend Anthony. He was still in the process of doing his own 6 months alcohol free challenge! He’s a true inspiration and certainly helped in making my own challenge possible!

So there you have it. I am going alcohol free for 90 days once again – just in time for a sober Christmas and New Years! Wishing you all a safe and happy holiday – alcohol free or not!

Alcohol Free - good times sans booze

Enjoying an alcohol free evening with my awesome Filipino posse! 🙂


[countdown date=2013/03/22] There is [dhmtimer] left in the 90 day Alcohol Free Challenge!! [after]The 90 day Alcohol-Free Challenge was Successfully completed on March 22nd, 2013![/countdown]


If you have any tips, comments, feedback* or even your own personal challenges with going alcohol free, please feel free to leave them in the comment section below – (or if a private matter, email me at [email protected] and I’ll be sure to answer and help however I can)!

* words of encouragement are also greatly appreciated 😉

About the Author:

From a young age, Ian was always a wanderer. He's since travelled to all 7 continents, and has spent the majority of his life pursuing this passion. Follow him in his off-the-beaten-path adventures and discoveries!


  1. Kristin of Be My Travel Muse December 27, 2012 at 5:54 pm - Reply

    We’re so like-minded! I’m four days in myself. Last year I did 6 months alcohol free (that ended at TBEX, actually). I’m here for moral support

    • Ian Ord December 27, 2012 at 6:03 pm - Reply

      Ahhh that’s crazy… This is day 4 as well 😛 Dec 23rd was the beginning of the end! I’m just a little late writing the post, as it took a bit of recovery after the night of the 22nd to get my thoughts back together! lol 6 months though? High Five, that’s awesome!

  2. Natalie T. December 28, 2012 at 2:01 am - Reply

    I did this challenge for one month before my best friend’s 30th birthday and it’s hard! I got invited to so many parties where there was free booze. It was worth it though. I felt cleaner. I had WAY more money! (Who would have thought?) and I resisted temptation. You’ll also find out who is more understanding and who isn’t. That said, I found most friends were accepting of the challenge. You also may find that you’re not going out as much and can you use your money/time towards many more experiences that may be worthwhile to you. Good luck! I was definitely done after a month so 3 months is a good challenge.

    PS Your website button is telling me to enter a valid URL. WordPress and I are not getting along today! http://www.nearafar.com

    • Ian Ord January 3, 2013 at 2:40 pm - Reply

      Hey Natalie! I know the story. I’ve already passed through New Years, and that wasn’t too bad as we ended up being on a secluded beach.. but now I have a business meet up with booze this weekend.. and I’ll be drinking my sprites. It’s not that it’s hard not to drink.. it can just feel socially awkward when you’re so accustomed to it in those situations. Thanks for the good luck, and good luck if you try it again yourself 🙂

  3. Ben Ward December 29, 2012 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Congratulations! Reading your article reminded me of when I gave up drinking — in fact, what was intended to be a few months of sobriety has now turned into five years of alcohol-free living and I wouldn’t go back to it for the world. I remember my last drink was a G&T in a hotel bar in Guadalajara which after a year of living ‘la vida loca’ in Mexico was a fitting end to my old way of life spent in bars and pubs in various parts of the world. Thanks again for the article, Ben Ward, Editor, Alcohol Free Times.

    • Ian Ord January 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm - Reply

      Hey Ben! Thanks for the comment and for sharing the clearly positive outcome from your own challenge. It’s incredible what a difference it makes in your life and the quality of life you end up having alcohol free! I’ve checked out your site too, and that’s amazing it’s not only become a way of life for you, it’s even seeped into your professional life as well! Congrats, and thanks again!

  4. Ian Ord January 3, 2013 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Hey Ben! Thanks for the comment and for sharing the clearly positive outcome from your own challenge. It’s incredible what a difference it makes in your life and the quality of life you end up having alcohol free! I’ve checked out your site too, and that’s amazing it’s not only become a way of life for you, it’s even seeped into your professional life as well! Congrats, and thanks again! 🙂

  5. Paul January 16, 2013 at 1:19 pm - Reply

    My alcohol free days started as soon as my daughter was born 5 years ago, before that I was out partying every night in Phuket (where we live). Now I get dizzy after one glass of wine!!

    • Ian Ord January 16, 2013 at 1:37 pm - Reply

      Hi Paul! Thanks for your reply! I can imagine that changed a lot of things in your life – probably for the better! I suppose this is good practice for when/if I eventually become a parent as well! Good on you! Phuket’s not an easy place to do that I”m sure, but you certainly had the right motivation 🙂

  6. Franca January 18, 2013 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    What a challenge Ian!
    I am not a drinker myself, I like to have the occasional social drinks though.
    I have done something similar for more than 3 months in the past and as you said it wasn’t easy especially when with friends new and old. I kept ordering juices or coffee instead and I didn’t mind it at all, but sometimes people looked at me like if I was a real weirdo.

    Good luck to you and don’t give up! 😉

    • Ian Ord January 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm - Reply

      Hey Franca – it’s funny how people really can’t seem to get their heads around it. Alcohol is such a big part of so many people’s lives, even when they’re not ‘big drinkers’ as you say! Scary really… but I’m enjoying the challenge (and it’s so much easier the second time through… so far at least. I’m supposed to go to a party tonight, so we’ll see what I say tomorrow) 😉

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