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Business travel without booze, is it possible?

Updated: Oct 21, 2022

In September, I went on my first abroad business trip since January 2020. Having been alcohol free for 22 months, I didn’t know what to expect and wasn’t sure how I would feel.

I am very secure in my alcohol free identity but this was one of the only alcohol free firsts that I hadn’t yet done and having been travelling for work for nearly 20 years, I was conscious that there could be triggers that would hit me.

I arrived at Heathrow airport and was struck by all the signs honouring the loss of Queen Elizabeth II, as it was 3 days after she passed away.

Checking in and going through security were fine but I knew that previously, I would have been excited to get to the lounge and have a glass of fizz, as that was the thing to do. Then getting on the plane travelling business class, I would again have a glass of fizz, as that’s what they offer on boarding the plane, so these were previous traditions.

However, it’s amazing how things have changed since I last flew business. I was so pleased to see a variety of alcohol free options in Duty Free, which was fabulous and gave me hope. There were alcohol free gins, red and rose wine and even a sparking number!

I arrived at the lounge and wanted a water and a coffee, so wasn’t thinking about booze but I did have a wander around to see if there was anything else on offer. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw Tanqueray 0.0 next to the normal Tanqueray and I thought how things had changed...

On the flight itself, when I arrived I had a glass of water but noticed the fizz and water were in the same type of glass, so no issue.

However, it was interesting listening and watching as people were asked, “Would you like water, orange juice or CHAMPAGNE?” Inevitably, every person asked said, “Champagne please!” Then went on to G&Ts, red wine, beer, as the flight went on…then duly passed out!

That used to be me, one of the perks of flying business was the glass of champagne on arrival, as it always felt so glamourous, so it was interesting to see that for the vast majority, this was still the same.

I was impressed that at least there were a couple of mocktail options offered on the flight (cranberry and tonic with a slice), so it was something. As I didn’t know what to expect, I’d taken a 100ml bottle of alcohol free gin on the plane, so just asked for a tonic water, a little trick I’d learnt! This was nice with the meal but I wasn’t craving it or feeling like I was missing out.

In reality though, it seems I should have been more concerned about the food. In addition to more people choosing to be alcohol free, it seems the airline also expected more vegetarians and vegans. The flight offered a chicken dish and a lamb dish (my preference) but didn’t have enough, only 7 of each for the whole cabin!!! So, the only option was vegetarian when I was asked. How things have changed…

Aside from that, all in all it was good to see that being alcohol free is becoming normalised, there was nothing to worry about. Although, most people were still drinking wine and champagne, at least there were options, which I wasn’t expecting and set me up for my first business week away!

I ended up travelling quite a bit in September and it was an interesting experience, as now that I am completely comfortable in my alcohol free identity, it’s fascinating to watch and see the world still thinks alcohol is the best thing ever or is essential to all elements of life but it is absolutely possible to do a business trip without booze!

So, if you are thinking about ditching the booze for a period of time but travel a lot for work and think this may be a reason you can’t have a break, trust me it is absolutely doable and enjoyable. The other perk was I didn’t really suffer from jet lag!

If you’d like to join November Group Coaching or are looking for 1-1 support, feel free to get in touch or check out my Instagram page @thrivealcoholfree.

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