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The KILROY Guide for Sober & Sober-Curious Gap Year Travellers

HEADER Sober Curious Travel World Map KILROY

Dry-tripping activities and sober-friendly destinations

You might be embarking on a sober journey, or maybe you're simply curious about exploring the alcohol-free world. No matter your motivation, if you’re on the search for a gap year full of adventure and free from alcohol, you’re in the right place. We’ve curated the top alcohol-free travel activities for sober minds who are looking for a fulfilling gap year that's jam-packed with culture and new experiences.   

Here's what we cover in this sober-curious guide:

Gap Year Planner Image For Side Widget
Countdown to your gap year
We get it – while planning your next trip away can be inspiring, sometimes the admin can be draining. That’s why we’re on hand to help you get the most out of your travels with our 'Off to see the world in 80 days' gap year planner.
Check out our Ultimate Gap Year Planner

Embracing the sober travel trend

If you've started planning your gap year, there's a high chance you'll have come across the term "dry tripping", the newest trend that's taking the travel industry by storm. More and more people are choosing sober travel because it allows a focus on wellness, self-discovery, and the chance to partake in meaningful experiences.  

Whether you're a teetotaller, sober curious, or just not a huge fan of drinking, an alcohol-free holiday can help you save money and boost your emotional and physical wellbeing. The benefits include better sleep, increased safety, more enjoyment of a wide variety of activities, and clearer memories of your once-in-a-lifetime experiences. 

Gen Z is driving the trend for sober tourism - but what's motivating this movement? 

Understanding the “sober curious” movement in Gen Z 

Gen Z is all about making the most out of travel without drink holding them back.  

Almost two-thirds of Gen Zers say they worry about the emotional impact of alcohol. They're more aware of the effects of alcohol on their mental and physical health, with 86% believing that their mental health is as significant as their physical health when drinking.  

The truth is, booze doesn't have the same allure for Gen Z - and this attitude shift is impacting the travel industry, too.  

The growing trend in sober vacations highlights young adults' increased focus on wellness, choosing yoga retreats instead of pub crawls, and early morning hiking instead of late-night drinks at the bar. It means sober retreats and booze-free travel aren't substitutes for the "real thing" but are now the goal. 

Even social media reflects this: on TikTok, #SoberTravel regularly attracts thousands of views, while Pinterest searches for 'nature with friends' rose by 50% in the last year. Gen Z are actively choosing their next travel destination based on wholesome activities; seeking out sober adventures rather than the booze-fuelled escapades popular in the past. 


Make any trip sober-friendly with KILROY
This sober-curious guide to gap years and travel is just a taste of what we offer. You can make any trip sober-friendly with our expert guidance. Whether it's a bucket list trekking challenge, picking up a new skill abroad, or a backpacking adventure that prioritises self-growth over partying, we're here to help make that happen.
Check out our full range of destinations and experiences

Top alcohol-free travel destinations and adventures

What are the best alcohol-free options for your next travel adventure? 

It's well-known that Muslim countries have strong non-alcoholic drink traditions, meaning they can be a supportive environment for those wanting to avoid alcohol. But just because you're choosing an alcohol-free beer instead of a glass of wine, these aren’t your only options to visit.  

There are plenty of countries where alcohol isn't essential for having fun. In Colombia and Guatemala for example, there are many local evening street dances where alcohol isn't necessary. Japan is another great sober vacation option too, as alcohol is not aggressively marketed; sober travellers can easily choose non-alcoholic drinks like tea or water to accompany their meals, with no temptation to drink anything harder.  

For sober travellers seeking relaxation and serenity, wellness-focused trips offer tranquil experiences in beautiful settings so you can embrace your inner self. Incredible vistas where there's an abundance of wildlife makes Costa Rica a great option for sober travel, too. 

If you're a traveller who's looking to do good while feeling good, volunteering is a great option. Volunteer programmes offer a way to experience new cultures whilst socialising and meeting like-minded people without a heavy focus on drinking.  

Below we’ve outlined the best destinations and activities for sober and sober-curious travellers. 

World map showing the top destinations for sober-curious outdoors adventures - KILROY

Top alcohol-free trip destinations for outdoor adventures 

Trips that embrace the great outdoors are a brilliant alternative to drink-orientated socialising, and KILROY have a huge variety on offer. Adventures involving diving, surfing, or kitesurfing are a great way to break the ice when meeting new people, as there's a high chance you'll all be trying out the activity for the first time.  

Plus - you and your new friends won’t be as tempted to drink, as the inevitable hangover will hold you back from enjoying every second. 

If you're wanting to explore the world's natural beauty whilst getting your blood-pumping, alcohol-free activities such as trekking and cycling allow you to make memories in breath-taking landscapes. 

Discover our full range of activities here

Map showing top destinations for sober-curious volunteering on a gap year - KILROY

Top alcohol-free destinations for volunteering 

If you need inspiration for sober travel activities, volunteering is a great way to give back to the local community of the country you're exploring on your gap year. It's also an opportunity to make friends and learn new skills without having alcohol as a focus.  

In fact, with its early mornings, demand for focus on your tasks, and emphasis on responsibility, volunteering abroad is well aligned with sober travel. 

KILROY offers a diverse range of volunteer opportunities, from nature conservation to working within a community. If you're curious about getting involved in a volunteer programme, check out our Volunteer Abroad eBook for all you need to know. 

Find your ultimate volunteer abroad option here.

Map showing top destinations for sober-friendly learning experiences and wellness centre - KILROY

Top alcohol-free travel options for growth & wellness 

A sober holiday can also be a great time to relax and work on yourself. Why not embrace your inner yogi on one of KILROY's yoga retreats, or work on a healthier you at a fitness boot camp in Thailand or Bali?  

If you're looking to flex the muscles of the mind instead, you could immerse yourself in a new skill by learning Spanish with one of KILROY's language courses, where you'll have plenty of opportunities to practice with native speakers. 

Whether it’s having presence in your yoga practice, reaching a PB in your fitness, or expanding your Spanish vocabulary, it doesn’t take an expert to tell you that drinking (and hangovers) will hold you back. Embracing sobriety here isn’t “missing out” – in fact, it’s the very opposite, as dry tripping will help you get the most out of your experience. 

Feeling inspired? With KILROY, you can curate the perfect mix of healthy activities and cultural exploration - and even add volunteering into the mix for a tailored trip that's everything you're looking for. Fill out our Travel Wish List to get started.

Traditional Gap Year destinations – the sober-curious edition

Alcohol-free travel doesn't mean you have to stay away from the classic gap year destinations. Traditional locations such as Southeast Asia, South America, and Australia and New Zealand are well known for being places where alcoholic drinks flow fast and free, but you can still embrace these destinations whilst enjoying sober living. Not every gap year adventure needs to be accompanied by vodka buckets and heavy hangovers.  

See below for KILROY's ultimate activity guide for a life-changing sober travel experience in some classic gap year locations. 

Phi Phi Beach Thailand
Want more inspiration for your Asia gap year? We've got a range of itineraries that combine popular routes with lesser-known gems. Best of all, these itineraries can be customised to suit your exact travel plans.
Check out our suggested itineraries for Asia

Southeast Asia

Known for stunning scenery, ancient temples and some of the most scenic beaches in the world, Southeast Asia is bursting with fun activities perfect for sober travellers.  

For those who want to embrace their philanthropic side, why not try volunteering in the Philippines or Indonesia, where you can give back through marine conservation or teaching?  

Alternatively, trekking in Thailand is a great choice for those wanting to combine getting active with local culture, allowing you to lap up the stunning scenery and get to know the locals whilst staying in mountain villages. 

If you're a water baby, Indonesia is one of the best places in Asia for surfing, so you can catch some waves whilst enjoying beautiful views. For an immersive adventure, why not try KILROY's 5-day Cebu trip in the Philippines, which will have you island hopping, snorkelling, zip lining, and swimming down rapids. 

South-East Asia is also a great place to learn to dive. Diving in Thailand will treat you to exciting encounters with tropical fish and turtles. When it comes to exploring wrecks, diving in the Philippines is the place to go, with the island of Coron being a haven of crystal-clear water.   

And if you're working on self-improvement, the Crossfit bootcamp in Bali is the perfect place to build your strength with a focus on dynamic training. For those craving some luxury whilst improving your fitness, KILROY's bootcamp in Thailand is an ideal mix, allowing you to get a sweat on whilst building your strength. 

At KILROY we offer over 200 different activities in South America. Whether it’s visiting the Patagonian lakes or learning Spanish in Buenos Aires, there’s something for everyone.
Find your perfect travel experience in South America

South America

One of the activities South America is best known for is trekking. Whether it's the world-famous Machu Picchu in Peru, the icy glaciers in Argentina, or a quest through the lost city in Colombia, there are plenty of trekking adventures perfect for any alcohol-free trip.  

For adrenaline seekers, KILROY offers plenty of experiences that will get your heart pumping. When it comes to riding the waves, where better to learn to surf than Rio de Janeiro, the vibrant capital of Brazil?  

If you're searching for a more immersive experience, KILROY offers a variety of trips where you can appreciate the wonders of nature in South America, from a 4-day trip to the Iguazu falls in Argentina to a multi-sport adventure in Ecuador.  

Embracing sobriety brings plenty of time for enrichment, and South America is a great place to do this. KILROY offers numerous language courses in Ecuador, Argentina, or Columbia just to name a few, where you can even come back with a new life skill by learning Spanish. After you've finished your course, why not volunteer in Ecuador or Argentina so you can put those language skills to the test? 

Ondrej Machart Wetxkeilmom Unsplash (1)
Whether it's an epic cross-country road trip or a year-long working holiday, KILROY offer a range of activities and trip types in Australia and New Zealand. If you're craving tropical paradise, why not consider adding a stop at the idyllic islands of Fiji while you're in this part of the world?
Check out more things to do Down Under

Australia & New Zealand

A gap year in Australia and New Zealand will be bursting with dramatic scenery and crazy wildlife, perfect for satisfying your inner adventurer. With diving to surfing on offer, Australia is the place to be for aquatic adventures, whether that's on top of the surf as a Bondi babe, or below the current exploring the Great Barrier Reef.  

A sailing tour in Australia will have you gliding through clear blue seas as you sail past incredible coastline views and spot aquatic wildlife such as humpback whales and dolphins.  

For an in-land adventure, KILROY's wildlife tours offer the chance to get up-close and personal with some incredible creatures in the Northern Territory from koalas and kangaroos to crocodiles and wombats.  

And for the thrill seekers, skydiving in Australia is a must; a true bucket-list moment which you'll never forget.  

To make the most of your time in New Zealand, a road trip will help you see the best of the North and South islands and embrace the friendly Kiwi hospitality. If you'd prefer a shorter experience, KILROY's 9-day tour is a great way to see the highlights of the North Island, from Hobbiton to underground caves, and offers the chance to experience traditional Māori culture.  

If your body is a sports-optimised temple, KILROY's 22-day multisport tour of New Zealand includes cycling, hiking, and kayaking across diverse landscapes, all whilst learning about local culture. Alternatively, mountain-biking is another great way to embrace the wonders of New Zealand, and this action-packed tour is filled top to bottom with cultural experiences and breath-taking landscapes dwarfing those of European countries.

Sober travel advice: 10 extra tips for sober-curious or alcohol-free holidays

While sober travel may be your goal, when you’re a long way from home, you may not always have the option of sober group trips – or you may find yourself amongst others who do want to drink alcohol. Make sure to prioritise self-care on your trip, and don't be afraid to communicate your boundaries, because your enjoyment and safety is the most important thing.  

Employing strategies to manage potential triggers is key in maintaining sobriety during travel. Here are our top tips to help you along the way: 

  1. Mentally prepare yourself beforehand to embrace the sober travel experience. To help yourself, set clear travel goals and intentions focused on sober-compatible experiences. You’ve got this! 

  2. Planning is essential: book experiences and accommodation where the focus isn’t on alcohol. Choose travel destinations and activities based on your personal interests as this will help you immerse yourself more in the experience. Reading reviews and chatting with a travel expert will give you a good idea of what's on the itinerary, too.  

  3. Research alcohol-free drinks options in the country you’re visiting. Sometimes it’s easier to order a beer because it’s the most familiar thing on the menu. But you could be missing out on a delicious alternative! 

  4. Ask questions. If you’re booking through a travel company, ask questions about the dynamics of your travel group, to help make sure you have a supportive environment. 

  5. Communicate with the travellers you meet. Building a supportive network who understand you will help you meet your goals – and it’ll enhance your travel experience by making new friends. 

  6. Find a sober travel buddy who is also interested in alcohol free holidays. You can share the sober travel experience and support each other along the way. 

  7. Set boundaries. If you’re feeling the peer pressure, it can help to prepare things to say in advance. “No thanks, I’m challenging myself to have a sober vacation” will get your point across.  

  8. Get the most out of mornings. Another strategy for dealing with peer pressure? Book activities early the next morning. It’s other people who are missing out on the cool experiences – not you! 

  9. Check out online communities for sober people. Online forums and social media spaces are great for sober travellers to connect and interact. These communities offer insights, recommendations, and support from like-minded travellers who prioritise sober travel. Why not check out the #SoberTravel TikTok community? 

  10. Swot up. Books can provide valuable insights and encouragement for planning an alcohol-free adventure. They're also a great way to stay motivated throughout. 

Amazing travel experiences without the need to drink alcohol

Sober travel isn't a compromise or a substitute. It's the opportunity to have a truly unforgettable trip, where sobriety can help you enjoy your time even more. You’ll look back on an adventure of a lifetime and be proud of your achievements.  

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