Tips for Travelling with a Chronic Illness
This post was updated on 29/06/18
We’re at that time of year when you are likely to be thinking about your summer holiday. I am lucky enough that I have three trips that i am looking forward to in the next few months. So I am starting to think about what I can put in place to travel with a chronic illness: manage my symptoms and ensure I have a wonderfully relaxing time. I am sure many others would benefit from this too, so decided to blog about it. I wanted to keep this post quite general, so will apply to more people. So I’ve had a little help from others with a chronic illness. Where they are a fellow blogger, I have included a link to their blog or social media.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical expert. I write from my own experience, giving guidance and support. For my full disclaimer, please click here.
Planning and Preparation
- Draft ideas on paper. Before you travel, think about what you will need to take with you and write it down. What is likely to trigger your symptoms? What can you put in place before and during your trip to reduce this? Planning helps me keep calm and organise my thoughts.
- Write Packing Lists. http://emmaclairebell.com says: I always feel better when I write lists, especially when it comes to preparing for travel. One of the most helpful lists I’ll write prior to travelling details everything I need to go before I go away, such as let my bank know I’ll be travelling (so they don’t think my card has been stolen when I use it overseas) and getting correct currency for the countries I’m going to visit. I also write packing lists for both carry-on and check-in luggage. Emma Bell has some really useful packing lists that you can download. Here’s the link.
- Always telephone the company to arrange assistance as soon as you book with them so they are aware of your needs. It’s one less thing to worry about.
- Talk to fellow travellers-(especially if you feel anxious). Talk to people who have been to your destination, because they may have valuable advice you won’t get from reading tourism websites. If you don’t know anyone in person who has been to where you’re planning on going, there are likely to be plenty of Facebook groups or other online communities you can tap into for advice. http://emmaclairebell.com/
- Bree Dixon says I travel overseas from Australia. My advise is 1. make sure you take enough medication to last at least a week longer than your holiday. 2. Get a letter from your doctor listing all your chronic illness’s and medications. 3. Take prescriptions with you. 4. Have all of this in you hand luggage. https://3sistersabroad.wordpress.com
- Medication: make sure you plan your meds way in advance. Take more than you need. Have letters or doctors notes. Check if you can even take them to another country and what you can do if you lose them in that country. I work in a pharmacy and have travelled with medication and I cannot stress this enough. Bread Skalka-http://queerlittlefamily.co.uk/
- Have a medical information sheet in your purse/wallet
- Accessibility Services.Don’t be afraid to take advantage of accessibility services. For example, free wheelchair service to your gate at the airport. Travelling is exhausting enough, no need to push your body harder than you have to! Member of FND Hope Mind Body Soul Facebook Group
- Slip off shoes for long plane rides.
- If you are going to be in a car for a long time you want to feel a little more comfortable than you normally would in a car. For this, I take a pillow of some sort, a blanket for the nights if it’s cold, soft socks, loose-fitting clothing and shoes that can slip on and off. This makes travelling a lot easier. I also found it’s better to wear your comfiest underwear! I wore my nicest fitting pants and a bralette which both give more comfort. https://www.instagram.com/findingfibro
During the Stay
- Realise that pleasing everyone else does you no favours in the long run. You have to make sure you do what is right for you and your health. We try so hard to appear “normal” that we might do something to please others that we certainly wouldn’t choose for ourselves. Keep in mind your health and wellbeing needs.
- Plans for the day. I guess there are three approaches with this, depending on what works for you. If you have a high-level anxiety, you might find it useful to plan each day of your trip. That way you know what to expect. When your symptoms are quite unpredictable, you may choose to keep each day simple and without plans and make things up as you go along. Then you can base on how you feel at the time. I like a happy medium. I like to research the place I’m going to for ideas for what to do, but leave some flexibility as to when. As and when things are booked-meals out, excursions etc I write them in my diary. I always take my A5 diary and notebook.
- Keep topped with H2O. Have a bottle of water with you and keep drinking, to make sure you keep hydrated. It is even more important if you are in a warmer country and will help with energy levels.
- Do some research on the location, to check there will be places to sit down, get a drink etc.
- Pace yourself. Don’t try and do too much and take breaks when you need to.
- Layered clothing to deal with temperature regulation issues.
- Continue with your self-care rituals-despite being away from home, this is still vital for your wellbeing. If you have found self-care activities that work for you, keeping them up with your routine will ensure you’re feeling the best you can.
For ideas, support and encouragement on self-care-Join the Shine in Self-Care Facebook group.
It is worth remembering, that everyone’s idea of a holiday is different. Do what is right for you. And enjoy it!
I hope you found this helpful. If you know someone who might benefit, why not share the post with them?
Throughout June, I will be posting on Instagram how I am retraining my brain so I can shine in life. Follow the posts at Retrain Brain to Shine-Instagram