• Sophie Ward

Travelling With Chronic Illness.


Traveling the key to life in my eyes.

However - the simpliest trips are incredibly difficult, stressful and anxiety provoking for people suffering with chronic illness and chronic pain. 

With a journey of my own coming up just next week and the travelling I have done in the past. I wanted to share with you knowledge I have researched and tips I have learnt through my own experiences and past mistakes. 

We can't simply throw a few t-shirts and trousers in a bag, and walk out of the door. 

It takes days, sometimes weeks of thought and preparations. 

Let's make things easier - let's list the advice in sections. 

1. Medications; 

Many of us chronic illness warriors have an endless amounts of medications and herbal supplements. Which are amazing at home when you can just reach for the box and yes it takes a while to sort them all out for you to take in that day but when travelling adding this box to your weight allowance / general baggage is hard. You need room for clothes, toiletries and other more exciting objects. You also can't afford the stress of carrying the extra weight around with you. 

-Make things easy - pack all bottles into a box so then it is easier to pack objects around the box rather than a million different bottles.

-Take a small amount of med's in your carry on baggage but make sure you have your prescription list with you at all times. 

-Remove out of the packaging. You don't need the extra boxing or if they come in bottles a pill organiser may be worth investing in. 

-Ask fellow passengers / travellers with you that you may need to add some clothes etc to their bags if they have a little more room. 

-Always take a few days extra med's incase of delays, flare ups or if you misplace any. 

2. Comfort:

Travelling is hard when you have chronic pain & pains. 

Uncomfy seats, lack of leg room, seated for hours on end, a lot of walking, a lot of carrying and lifting. We are faced a lot of the time knowing we will be spending hours in discomfort. 

It is reccommended when possible to take;

- cushions and pillows.

- wear comfy, lose clothing.

- good comfy footwear. 

-on long journeys, get up and move around don't allow yourself to stiffen up. 

-keep carry on bags small & light or have a small case.

-pack layers, changes in temperature can cause flare ups and generally cause further discomfort. 

-bring activities that you enjoy and can get lost in. Such as: mindful colouring, your kindle to read, diary/journal, music. 

3. Food for thought:

Along with chronic illness comes many dietary requirements. People with heart disease of course need to avoid those fatty foods, diabetics needs to watch their insulin levels, cancer patients often follow more of a plant based diet to flush out toxins, as do Lyme warriors. Diseases don't only cause many to 'alter' or 'change up their diet' to aid in their healing process but some cause intolerances. 

Whilst travelling it is extremely hard to keep to your way of eating, finding food you can eat and explaining what you require.

-Research restaurants or/and ring ahead. Explain what you require and if you can aid them in any way but also search for places that may already have dishes you can enjoy. 

-Are there markets or shops nearby you can access snacks? If restaurants don't cater to you.

-Translate what you can and can't eat into the language of the country / area you are travelling to. 

-In a group? Ring the restaurant beforehand or speak to someone when entering the restaurant so they are aware. Especially if your group is a large party. 

- Have outlets you know have the correct foods and/ or can cater to you, play safe and visit these places!! You may be a little fed up of eating in the same place but it is better then being unwell whilst not at home. 

4. Health:

With chronic illness we can be struck down with extra viruses, flare ups or just be having a harder day than usual at anytime. Especially having a pharmacy on hand, close or knowledge of the local one is highly recommended. 

- is the local doctors, hospital and/or pharmacy nearby if you need or require ANYTHING during your stay. Get any virus, flare up or extra pain under control.

-are you insured? Make sure you are up to date and ensure you will be covered correctly. 

- keep a list of your prescriptions, medications you take and allergies you have. 

5. Travel Partners / Fellow Passengers.

Traveling with a group and another person can be helpful but can also cause a little stress when you feel you are being difficult or effecting plans.

-be honest, tell people how you are feeling, what activities you are up to doing and which you aren't. So then they can alter the schedule, find something else for you to do or just simply be more aware!

-have flexible schedules! Not everyday is the same, take each day as it comes. Make sure your group understand this. 

-remember you aren't being awkward. You not being open to them about your feelings and pain will only upset them further. 

-it's your trip too! Make sure you do things you enjoy, even if it means pushing plans back a day or two in order to undertake them.

-having others support you helps you relax and enjoy yourself far more. 

6. Pre-trip:

Its not just the journey and travelling itself that zaps you! You have all the trips, tours, meals out, late nights, early morning to consider. 

-Rest up. Try to pack in advance and give yourself a day or two in the run up just being sorted and straight, enjoying some 'me' time.

-Make sure the schedule has plenty of breaks within it for you to recharge. 

-Eat your favourite snacks and meals.

-Any concerns must be raised. Flare ups, extra stresses or concerns so that a solution may be found for them. 

-Phone a friend or family member and talk through any stresses for their reassurance.

-Create a travel check list to tick off everything you require and need to do before going. 

-Early nights and a few lie in's to recharge those batteries. 

-Stock the freezer! It is always good to have something in the freezer to eat ready for your return. You have the unpacking and washing to consider, that is already a huge stress! You don't want to be worrying about food shopping or not having anything in for dinner. 

So there is a few hopefully helpful ideas. Is there anything on the lists above that you use when travelling or any you will now start doing. 

I think the most important for me is to be flexible and communicate. I hate being a burden or feel I am unable to experience what everyone else is. So I ignore my body and feelings and push through. Only making the pain far worse for myself and the experience harder. I need to learn to express how I am feeling so that the group can work out options or be more understanding.

Also comfort. Again I hate being a burden so will always force myself to carry heavy bags! It will be killing me! Yet I'll always smile through and act ok. I'm not - I am in a hell of a lot of pain. 

Let me know of any trips you guys have planned. Summer is banging on our doorstep. It's time to get out there, exploring and living life. Experiencing places and creating memories. 

Thank you for reading.

Love and peace 

S

Xoxo

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