I absolutely love to travel and have been blessed to go to some amazing, fun places like China, Costa Rica, NYC, Atlanta, LA, Miami & Las Vegas just to name a few. While I love traveling it can also be a stressful experience for me physically if I don't take the right precautions. Here are my tips for traveling with chronic pain:
1. Create a Master Packing List- This has taken so much stress out of preparing for a trip. I have a list with 81 items on it-every single thing I would ever need to bring on a trip from clothes & meds, to my heating pad, pain patches, camera, sunglasses & extra batteries. All I have to do to pack is print out the list & follow it!
2. Live out of your suitcase the day before you leave- I try to pack all my items for a trip 24 hours in advance. That way I can live out of my suitcase the day before I go and realize if there are any necessary items I forgot to bring.
3. Take the pharmacy with you- Obviously you should bring your everyday prescriptions & vitamins (in their original containers) but what about that pain pill for your back that you only take a couple times a year? Bring it too! To create my medication list for trips I started at the top of my body and went through every body part to determine if I needed to bring a medication for it. For example: Head-Tylenol, Stomach-Imodium etc. This may seem extreme but I've had trips that would have been ruined had I not brought an obscure medication that I rarely need. Also make sure your medication goes in your carry on if you are flying. You don't want the airline to lose your bags and have to go without your meds.
4. Fly Whenever Possible- I know it's more expensive than driving but at least for me I really can't do car rides over 2 hours anymore. My pain is worse sitting in the same position and not being able to get up and move around. The extra money is worth having far less pain. Also I always try to get the aisle seat when I fly. That way I can take frequent breaks to walk around and stretch without having to constantly ask other passengers to let me out. Plus I like the aisle seat because I can stretch my legs out and put them into the aisle while I sit-but watch out for the drink carts!
5. Don't take the early bird flight- I have learned this lesson the hard way many times. The earliest flight of the day is usually the cheapest but also the worst for my fibro. I have to wake up so early which means I usually get very little sleep. The lack of sleep makes me more likely to have increased pain and vertigo. Also mornings are just a rough time for people with fibromyalgia. It's better, in my experience, to pay a little more and take a later flight.
6. Adjust to a new time zone as quickly as possible- If you are only traveling domestically this will likely not be a huge deal but if you are traveling internationally it's a much bigger deal. When I traveled to China it was a 12 hour time change-literally night & day. To prepare the day before I took my evening pills in the morning & my morning pills at night. I tried to mentally adjust myself to the time & forced myself to wake up on the flight & eat lunch in the middle of the night. It was still a big challenge but these little steps helped. I'm not sure where I heard this but I guess it takes 1 day to get adjusted for each hour of time difference. I have found this to be completely true. Unfortunately for me I only went to China for 12 days so literally the first day I felt completely adjusted to the time was the day I went home!
So what about you? What are your travel tips with chronic pain/conditions?