Travel can cause stress, fatigue and illness, even if you don’t already suffer from a fatigue-related illness. For those of us who do suffer from Fibromyalgia, CFS, or any autoimmune disorder, travelling often results in a flare. This is the season when many of us are hopping in cars or on plans to visit family. Sadly, many of us avoid doing just that because of how much travel impacts in our illnesses. You can reduce the risk of a flare by planning ahead and following some important tips.
1. Plan ahead. Don’t try to do everything or see everyone. Prioritize the people you wan to see and the things you want to do during your visit. Schedule just one visit or one thing each day. If you can try to get all the people you want to see to come to you at the same time, this way you won’t be running around to see them and you can see everyone at once then rest. Don’t make any plans for that first day after you arrive. Plan to spend that day just resting and recovering so that you can spend time with people later.
2. Make a list – Have a letter detailing your medications and health issues that you can provide should the need arise. Chances of a medical emergency during your visit are low but it’s best to be prepared.
3. Pack Appropriately – Make sure to pack for any weather possibilities. This is especially tough when travelling during the winter as winter in one part of the country can be very different than another area (for that matter weather can change from moment to moment). Even if you are going to a warm climate, be sure to pack a sweater or light jacket for those times when you get chilly. Don’t forget to pack your medications and any other necessary items in your carry-on so that they are easily accessible.
4. Buy Travel Insurance – Given the unpredictable nature of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, it is worthwhile to purchase travel insurance. Get travel insurance from a third party provider and make sure that it covers cancellation for any reason and doesn’t require a doctor’s note to get your reimbursement.
5. Cut Flight Fatigue – Don’t allow your ego to make travel more difficult; take advantage of the assistance that the airport and airlines provide like wheelchairs, gate transfers, and early boarding. Airports tend to be even more crowded than normal during the holidays, all these extra people are going to wear you out faster, and make walking between gates even more difficult.
6. Reduce Driving Fatigue – If driving, plan extra drive time to stop and stretch often; sitting for long periods will increase your muscle pain and fatigue. Take advantage of the extra room that having your car provides and pack your own pillows and a mattress topper to make sleeping more comfortable.
7. Bring Water – Make sure to keep plenty of water on hand throughout your trip. When flying, take an empty water bottle and fill up once you get inside the gate area. Once you land, buy water in bulk on the way to your destination. Staying hydrated keeps your blood flowing, decreasing muscle pain and fatigue.
8. Reduce Stimulation – Wear noise cancelling headphones when you fly and when you are in crowded areas to cut down on the increased stimulation that all that noise will create. That added stimulation can create stress that you don’t need.
9. Stay Stress Free – As much as your family may want you to stay with them, it may not be the best thing for you. Staying in a hotel provides a safe place that allows you to get away whenever you choose and fully relax in your space.
10. Sleep In Comfort – I rarely take prescription sleep aids but I always take them when I travel. The unfamiliar bed and noises tend to keep me from sleeping even more than normal. You can also reduce the discomfort of sleeping in a strange bed by bringing your own pillow and blanket.
This holiday season enjoy travelling to visit family and friends, but don’t let it be the cause of a flare. Taking steps ahead of time can reduce or prevent the likelihood of a post-travel flare, and also allow you to gain more enjoyment from your time with family.
What’s your best holiday travel tip?