With Summer upon us, many of us are ready to get out of town! For those of us with Chronic Illnesses, traveling can be a bit trickier. We shouldn’t have to miss out on the fun (even though our definition of “fun” might look different than yours)! Here are a few things to keep in mind that might make traveling a bit less stressful:
1. Plan ahead.
And, I mean waaaaayyyyyyyyyy ahead. If you have a chronic illness, you know how much your body and mind rely on routines. Traveling takes you out of your routine (on purpose).
Write down all the things that keep you functioning on a daily basis, from medications to stretching, and make a plan for how to bring these into your vacation. List every item you’d like to (and need to) bring with you and start pulling a few things out each day in small increments – pretty soon, you’re all packed with time to relax before you leave!
2. Speak up.
And, listen to your body. Depending on the point you are at with your illness, you may or may not know your physical limits of traveling, but you do know how you feel.
If you start to realize that you’ve overdone it, or know that while a 15 mile hike sounds fun (does it, really?), a 5 mile walk would be just as enjoyable and less taxing – say so! Many chronic illnesses are invisible, so it’s important to remind our travel partners that even though we look “fine,” we might feel extremely “not fine” on the inside.
3. Include recovery time.
It is important to include recovery time (this looks different for everyone) each day of your trip, but also after you return home. If your body takes a few (or several) days to get back to baseline after a vacation, let yourself have as much of that time as possible.
Don’t schedule anything “big” for right after you return, and look for ways to ease back into your job (of course, not possible for everyone) and daily responsibilities. Included in this recovery time would be asking for help. Before, during AND after a trip can be a time where we might need some extra support from family, friends, and healthcare providers!
Reach out for support
When you live with Chronic Illness, Anxiety, Depression, and other emotional or physical symptoms can be exacerbated by everything that goes into traveling. If need help navigating and reducing these symptoms, please reach out for support!