Living with chronic pain can be daunting as it interferes with several aspects of life, but for millions of people who live with conditions like lower back pain, arthritis, or migraines, life can’t be ignored. While it may mean that travelling would require extra care and precautions it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see more of the world.
To help you be better prepared, we’ve put together these simple tips for you to have a more pleasant and relaxed journey.
1. Pack Accordingly
This may be the most important of all – the goal is to pack light by factoring in all the essentials. When travelling by flight make sure to fill your carry on with everything you need to make your flight more comfortable like – medication (with prescriptions provided by your doctor), disposable heating pads, travel pillows and blankets, pain relief oils and sprays, healthy snacks, a reusable water bottle and entertainment such as a book or a tablet to provide for a distraction. Noise-canceling headphones can get you a great deal of relief on a long international flight. If you’re travelling by bus, train, or road, don’t be reluctant to ask for help. Make sure people around you are aware of your condition and don’t overexert yourself with handling your luggage.
You can even consider shipping your luggage ahead of time to your destination. This not only saves on cost but will make your travel a lot smoother and stress-free. It can even help you take more non-essential things that may assist in aiding your pain such as medical equipment, extra clothes – comfortable shoes, jackets, etc.
2. Consult Your Doctor
As someone suffering from chronic pain it is important to run your travel plans by your doctor to not only get a thumbs up but to get additional advice and/or important tests specific to your condition. It is always best to discuss the current state of your condition and how best to accommodate it. In addition to consulting with your doctor before the trip, it is also advisable to get a checkup after you return, therefore setting an appointment in advance to treat any issue that arises. Even if you don’t feel pain at that moment it is always better to be precautious and get a checkup. A green light from a trusted doctor will also make you less anxious about the trip. At the same time, it is a perfect excuse to get all your medical paperwork, history, and current reports in order.
3. Be Prepared And Organized
It’s obvious to keep your condition in mind while travelling with packing accordingly, however, it is also a good idea to dig a little deeper and know what resources you could use in case of an emergency. For example, hotels or stop-ways on the way of your road trip, accessibility to a wheelchair at the airport – you can call in advance to check, aisle seating on the airline – ideal for stretching and moving around the plane, help available for assisting with the luggage, easy boarding for people with disabilities – again you can all in advance to check, etc. Don’t ignore or fight through any symptoms that may arise. Take adequate measures and don’t think twice before asking for help.
On the day of the travel, it is important to know these things as well as have a plan ready so as to not stress, which could in itself be a trigger for pain. Therefore, making a list of timings, locations and distances are key. Make sure you arrive at the location earlier so you can take breaks between each step like checking in from one place to another at the airport. Confirm whether you have packed everything you need – a checklist can come in handy here. At the same time know what you can do, in case of a pain attack, where you’re staying. You can try some natural home remedies for alleviating the pain.
4. Incorporate Massages In Your Routine
A massage has many benefits that not only reduce the intensity of the pain but also relieve stress related to it. Massages are known to alleviate tension, improve blood circulation, and reduce pain. Moreover, have innumerable benefits like reducing the effects of jet lag – which include extreme fatigue, headaches, and nausea. And promote a relaxed sleep which is essential for your body and mind to recover from the tiresome day of travel.
It is, therefore, important to have a pain relief oil filled with essential vitamins and herbs in handy. This helps not only during the trip but can be very beneficial to start applying once a week before the trip as well. Allocating time to this practice can have significant paybacks both physically and mentally, as it is a form of self-care. You can also look for massage parlors in the locations that you’ll be travelling to and do some research to find a highly rated one.
5. Get Some Sun
Don’t let your chronic pain get in the way of you enjoying your vacation whether it’s spending time on the beach, in a forest, in the mountains, etc. Exploring nature makes a tremendous difference in your physical and mental wellbeing. For one it gives you the essential vitamin D which is needed to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy. This ‘sunshine vitamin’ can help keep your immune system healthy and may protect against several illnesses. Most importantly though, exploring nature gives you calming benefits to lowering your stress levels which in turn reduces pain. So don’t be afraid to organize hikes or go on long walks, of course keeping your doctor’s advice in mind. It may also come in handy to keep a GPS with you to find your way back without much strain.
6. Maintain a Healthy Diet and Hydrate
Even though one of the biggest joys of travel is to have different kinds of foods make sure to not get too carried away. It can be tempting to lose yourself and indulge on a vacation so try to have fun exploring the place and culture through the food but portion control it accordingly. Follow your heavy indulging meal with the next of the day being lighter and more nutrition dense. You can even start with a salad before your meals so as to not overeat on the main dish. Getting your daily nutrients this way can maintain your metabolism and not exacerbate your pain and energy levels. This will also keep you less lethargic throughout your trip. You can even carry small healthy meals for the way, this becomes easier on a road trip as you anyway pack food with you.
Hydration can also be another boon. It is known that travelling dehydrates the body and, if living with chronic pain, makes the symptoms feel worse. The cabin pressure in an airplane restricts the airflow and humidity which can make you feel swollen and dried out by the time you land. Therefore, it is important to carry a reusable water bottle and drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated.
While there may be several things to keep in mind when travelling with chronic pain remember to take the time off you deserve and have some fun. It is not easy to live with pain and to travel with it may be exhausting but try to keep the goal of the trip in mind – whether it’s to relax, meet a loved one, or a business meeting.