Updated: Jul 18, 2020
Living with a chronic illness can be hard.
Traveling with one can be harder, but not impossible.
I was first diagnosed with endometriosis in April of 2018. After three years of experiencing excruciating pain, I finally had a name for it all; all of the tears, all of the confusion, and all of the trials and errors finally had one word to go by.
It was a relief and a burden. A two-for-one special. What a relief to know I’m not “crazy” or “being dramatic,” but a physical and emotional burden nonetheless.
Nicole, get to the travel part!
Two years after diagnosis, I have accepted my endometriosis diagnosis and have worked so hard on myself to help treat the pain. My daily routine allows for me to alleviate some of my symptoms. However, we all know that travel disrupts your daily routine.
How do you travel with a chronic illness?
I don’t think people realize how hard it can be to do daily tasks with a chronic illness, let alone travel. Here are some helpful pieces of advice for people who are simply trying to live their best lives. (Obviously, every chronic illness is different. I can only speak to my own personal experiences. Please make sure you consult your doctor before your travels to go over steps you can implement to your daily travel routine for your specific health concerns.) Come along for the ride!
IMPORTANT: P L E A S E consult your doctor before traveling. I am not a medical professional, nor do I claim to be. (Shout out to all of the medical professionals tackling COVID-19 around the globe!) I am merely sharing things that have worked for me to help me treat my endometriosis, both in my daily life and while traveling. If you think you have endometriosis, please talk to your doctor / gynecologist.
The power of “ J U S T I N C A S E “
Packing things you might need just in case xyz happens is one of the smartest moves you can make. You never know when *those* types of situations might arise. You do not deserve to be in a position where you are empty-handed and completely ill-equipped to handle certain scenarios. Whether it’s extra pain reliever or simply a bottle of water to stay hydrated, pack it... you know, just in case.
What’s your mode of T R A N S P O R T A T I O N ?
If a change in air pressure makes you sick... don’t fly. If being in a car aggravates your nausea... don’t drive. I personally prefer flying and enjoy what the change in air pressure does for my endometriosis (people with vaginas, look it up!), so my favorite mode of transportation is flying. However, I like to take naproxen before a flight to ensure that I have a comfortable experience. I also like to stay hydrated. We all know water is good for us, but I’ll go further into why I love staying hydrated on a flight...
... N O W.
Long story short, it forces me to get out of my seat to go to the bathroom. 🤷🏻♀️ My body is moving, stretching, and the blood is circulating. (Bonus points for compression socks! Mine have fox on them.)
L I V I A
This tip might not apply to everyone, but I can see this device being used for a multitude of health concerns.
How many of you to the chiropractor? Whenever I go to the chiropractor and get adjusted, I end my appointments with some time with the TENS machine on my back and shoulders. It feels like a thousand teeny, tiny hands are massaging my body! It’s my second favorite part of a chiropractic appointment, second only to the chiropractor adjusting my neck. They actually sell TENS machines that you can use from the comfort of your own home! Mine is called Livia and it’s smaller than the palm of my hand. I personally have never tried wearing this on a plane, but I use it when my pain reliever isn’t doing what I need it to and I need to target the relief. It feels great on my lower stomach. Essentially, the device is supposed to distract your body/muscles from the pain signals your brain is sending to various parts of your body through the nervous system. This, in tandem with pain reliever, is AMAZING. Again, this isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea or answer from above, but if you have the means to try this technique, I personally recommend it.
Maybe your chronic illness doesn’t require investing in this type of device, but you are comfortable when you travel with a noisemaker of some sort or a weighted blanket to help you fall asleep? Maybe you can’t leave the house without extra granola bars on hand? You can absolutely bring those things with you when you travel. In fact, you deserve to pack those things for yourself because your health is IMPORTANT.
L I S T E N T O Y O U R B O D Y
I cannot even explain how important it is for you to listen to your body. Just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you have to overextend yourself to try to do EVERYTHING. Are you tired? Go to bed early. Need more water? Get some if/when you’re able. Need to stretch? Walk around for a bit, even if it’s just to the bathroom. Need to sit? Take a break and sit. You’ll not only give your body a time out, you‘ll give yourself a chance to really look around and take every beautiful thing in.
M E D I C A T I O N
In our daily lives, taking medication can feel like we’re running on auto-pilot. Island time can really mess with our concept of real time and, unfortunately, could disrupt your medication schedule. Make sure to schedule your medication into your day. My favorite way to do this is to set an alarm on my phone (the current alarm ringtone I have is the Avengers theme—a great conversation starter). Luckily, I get my prescription injected now (fun!), so I don’t have to worry about taking it at a same time every day for three months per dose.
***PLEASE keep in mind that changing time zones could impact when you take your medication. Talk to your doctor about your travels before you leave and discuss how to take your medication in your new time zone.***
Know you’re not A L O N E
There are plenty of people that travel with chronic illnesses and THRIVE on their vacations. You are not alone. You have the CI community by your side for support. 💕
Your chronic illness doesn’t have to ruin your dreams of traveling. Sure, you might need to bring more things or be more rigid about your schedule, but you can ABSOLUTELY live a fulfilling life of travel and exploration. You deserve to do so. Live your best life!
Thanks for coming along for the ride. x
FTC: This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.