A vacation is usually the high point of the year, but for people with chronic pain, a supposedly fun vacation can herald anxiety. How to cope with the long-haul flight or the long lines at the airport? How to enjoy relaxing by the pool or intrepid exploration when your pain distracts you? How to stick to your nutritional plan? How to avoid a flare-up, which might sabotage your plans?
Worse still are the business trips where relaxation and independent travel are seldom on the agenda. Many people who have chronic pain also experience severe fatigue and impaired immune function — pair this with jet lag and the stress of air travel, and you have a spell for disaster.
“I love planning a vacation,” says Megan,* 34, “but I get increasingly anxious in the week leading up to the trip. I wonder whether I will enjoy it, whether it will be money wasted. I also wonder whether it’s a wise move health-wise, given how far I will be from my comfort zone and the medical professionals who usually support me.”
We asked women with chronic pain for tips on how to make traveling less stressful and more comfortable. With a little forethought, hopefully your travels will be a little more bearable — if not enjoyable.
*Names changed as these interviewees requested anonymity.
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Take a Hot Water Bottle Everywhere
:Take a Hot Water Bottle Everywhere
Bring a Full-Body Pillow for Long Car Rides
:Bring a Full-Body Pillow for Long Car Rides
Plan Ahead for Meals
:Plan Ahead for Meals
Travel With Cold Packs
:Travel With Cold Packs
Check Prescription Medication Laws at Your Destination
:Check Prescription Medication Laws at Your Destination
Exercise — If It Helps
:Exercise — If It Helps
Book a Longer Trip
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Pursue New Interests
:Pursue New Interests
Ask for Help When You Need It
:Ask for Help When You Need It
Purchase Good Travel Insurance
:Purchase Good Travel Insurance
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