So you have plans for a trip and you struggle with chronic illness or pain.
Do Not Panic! It will be okay and you can do it and have fun!
I am not any kind of chronic pain travel-guru, but I have been on a couple of trips now, long and short, by car and by plane and though I still do not possess any kind of travel-zen I am not as panicked or as fearful as I was in the beginning. Giving yourself enough prep time you have a fun trip and when an unexpected trip comes along that requires less planning time, you can do it with relative ease. Here are a few tips I can share with you.
Quick 6 Tips for Traveling with Chronic Pain/Illness
• Put On Your Positive Pants: For any of my Big Bang Theory friends out there, Sheldon had his public transportation pants for bus trips and so you my friends need to wear your positive pants! I know it sounds silly but how your trip experience unfolds hinges about 80% on attitude. And trust me, I know that how difficult it is when you are delayed by car or plane because of traffic or weather, but your reaction to it can make the difference between a huge flare and a delayed but enjoyable trip.
• Keep Your Meds Close: If you are on a plane or in a car, chances are you’ll have a travel bag of some sort to keep snacks and books and anything else you might need for your trip. Make sure your meds are close by and keep an extra bottle of water tucked in there so you can take medicine if you need to.
• Stay Hydrated: It may seem like a small thing, or you may feel inconvenienced by it and having to use the rest room often but trust me, it is vital. Many meds, including anti-anxiety meds and opioids dehydrate you all by themselves. Toss in cabin pressure, sittind down for long stretches and recycled air and you will encounter the trifecta of dehydration symptoms: lethargy, stiffness and swelling. You do not want this. Keep water in the car with you or on the plane in your carry on. You can purchase water past the chek point and keep it on the plane.
• Extra!Extra!: Pack anything extra you think you might need more of whether it’s pillows or socks or pj’s or undies. Keep in mind your chronic issues and prepare for any eventuality. For instance, because of my tummy issues i always bring antinausea meds and meds for any unpredictable tummy upset. You want to anticipate as many unforseen circumstances as you can to avoid as much unpleasantness as possible.
• Windo Seat. Window Seat. Window Seat.: Why? Distraction my lovelies! This may not work if you are severely anxious during air travel, but I loathe flying and I still try very hard to get a window seat. Now, my anxiety stems from the crowded nature of planes and clausterphobia so, windows give an illusion of openness that I appreciate. It is also a distraction to look at the night sky or puffy clouds and it takes my mind off the pain. So, again, this might not work for you depending on the source of your anxiety, but for others it might.
• Pump up the Jam!: Sadly, I just really aged myself there but it’s okay! Now that you have a window seat pop in your earbuds and turn on some of your favorite music, close your eyes and zen out. Music can help reduce your pain and stress/anxiety levels. The less anxious you are the more pleasant the travel will be and this lowers the risk of flare.
I hope this helps. While I am not the consummate traveler I have been out there and have learned a few things from personal experience. I hope it gives you a starting point that you can personalize and improve on what needs you might have so that you can travel and have the best experience possible.