How Chronic Pain Sufferers Can Make Traveling a More Pleasant Experience

How Chronic Pain Sufferers Can Make Traveling a More Pleasant Experience

By Jackie Waters.

For many chronic pain sufferers, travel can be a bit frightening as it takes you out of your comfort zone and throws you into the unknown. One way to manage chronic pain is to develop and stick to a certain routine, and the unexpected nature of travel can throw this whole system out of whack. But it is possible to manage chronic pain while away on vacation. Here are some tips.

Don’t just book any old hotel room

Where you spend your down time while on a trip is important to your well-being, and if you simply book a random room at a hotel without caring about certain features and specifications you are missing an opportunity to make your trip more comfortable.

“If you need a room with a shower only and no bathtub, a room closer to the elevator, a helping hand up and down the bus steps, or someone to lift a bag into the overhead compartment—ask for it! Don’t be shy about asking for help or special accommodations,” notes the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association.

Don’t be afraid to ask for a first floor room, for instance, or request someone help you with laundry service. Hotels and resorts that act put out by accommodating your condition aren’t worth your time. This is one area where it really helps to plan ahead.

Know how to make flying more comfortable

Unless you’re flying in first class, flying is oftentimes uncomfortable for just about everyone. It can really be an issue for those suffering from chronic pain. There are ways to make flying more manageable, however. One tip is to dress in layers.

“Try to dress in layers so you are prepared for the changing conditions on the airplane. Temperature can affect joints and muscles and keep that in mind as you prepare for your flight. You can also roll up a sweatshirt and use it as neck or lumbar support,” suggests the Advanced Pain Medicine blog.

Get up every hour of the flight and walk up and down the aisles. Perform some simple stretches. You’ll have enough room. Try to check your bag. Having to deal with a large carry-on the whole trip is a recipe for pain. Bring a very small, lightweight pack or purse containing any essential medication on the flight with you. Always carry a large bottle of water wherever you go and don’t be afraid to ask the flight attendants for extra pillows/blankets to help make yourself more comfortable!

Bring your stress reduction techniques with you

At home, a big part of managing chronic pain is being able to manage stress. On vacation, this might be even more vital. Vacation stress is a whole different beast. Unfamiliar schedules, extra walking, and an imbalance in your routine can all exacerbate your chronic pain.

That’s why it’s incredibly important to make sure you practice your stress relieving techniques while you’re traveling. Take time every day to meditate, do yoga, or exercise. You can splurge a little bit (you’re on vacation after all), but try as hard as you can to stick to a somewhat healthy diet and try to not go overboard with the alcohol, as overeating and too much booze can make your pain flare up.

Check here for some more great pain-reducing tips.

The most important thing about traveling with chronic pain is to try to recreate as many of your home pain and stress-reducing techniques as you possibly can. Try to pack your day with enough activity to keep your mind occupied, but not enough to wear yourself out.

Jackie Waters is a mother of four energetic boys and lives with her family on a three acre hobby farm in Oregon where they grow as much of their own food as possible, focus on sustainability, and practice simplicity. She was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in her mid-20s.

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Authored by: Jackie Waters

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DUH!! Tell me something I don’t know. This article is pretty much just plain common sense. (which apparently isn’t all that common anymore). My travel days are DONE. Flying is so terribly uncomfortable that I don’t travel by air anymore. In addition to my chronic low back pain that never ends, I get leg cramps frequently when flying, or I have to use the restroom….and it’s NOT always possible to get up & walk it off, or go to the restroom…there are times when you HAVE TO remain seated….it’s the rules. Traveling by car is just as bad. I had to miss my nephew’s wedding this spring because I couldn’t handle the 3 1/2 hour car ride. I pretty much don’t go anywhere that’s more than 30 miles away….and even that does me in for the rest of the day. Thankfully, about 15 years ago, I was able to travel a bit….to Europe, Canada, Mexico….so I do have some good memories. These days my husband travels alone…..he’s been to Spain, Australia, England, Scotland, and Ireland….all without me. I’ve accepted the fact that just because I can’t travel, I can’t hold him back.
Bon Voyage!!!

Ibin Aiken

These ARE helpful suggestions, IF a patient with pain is, able to travel. Those of us that were able to leave their homes, before the mis-guided-line and could still travel, have learned what to do to make ANY “extra” required activity more “pleasant”, tolerable, pain wise. At least most of us. Careful planning to have required medication is a must. IF an unexpected trip is required, it is not as if a patient can go to a hospital ER room, or management specialist, and “urgent care” if the patient runs short of prescribed medication WHILE away from their provider. We are turned away from ALL facilities as if we are trying to “get over” on the provider. Sent away as a perceived drug addict often without even troubling to learn the patients condition or as to why, medication is needed. It won’t kill you to suffer, only cause you to wish to leave this realm of unmanageable pain. The development of any type treatment for continuous pain will be helpful when developed, to an effective use.Every patient can NOT exercise, as soem crippling disease restricts any movement, at all without incredible consequence. Advocacy for current sufficient pain relieving education, if that is the ONLY way to ease, suppress pain, some who have contended with pain have been forced to comply with the DOT/GOV mandate, , suffer, or “do the best you can” as with some physicians advice. To restrict a medication that has been beneficial for most, for years and decades without ANY further medical technology other than opiate medication, regardless of the beneficial use , without any other means to tolerate pain is absolutely asinine. Ridiculous, without compassion or care what severe, continuous pain, we are contending with. Most of us have formulated an agenda for almost any pain generating, situation in excess of “normal” unmanageable pain, a long time go. Forced to 90 mme daily, without any other means of effective pain control, and no effective pain control in the near future is causing unsubstantiated, undue hardship, upon the pain patient…….now. I still can not understand WHY DOT/GOV has not empowered, funded, a non opioid pain control practice to help pain sufferers BEFORE mandating 90 mme first. Absolute tyranny with our knowledgeable physicians, medical researchers, conceived, “penned” (written) into law BEFORE adequate other possible pain control methods were developed AND available to pain patients ……first. At a doctors appointment for my 80 year old Mother, yesterday, who has suffered an artificial hip replacement in both legs, diagnosed with scoliosis, spinal steno sis , two brain surgery aneurysms, full body pain, osteoarthritis, actually stated, a woman of your “age” should not be taking ANY pain medication, “at a’ll” She has been reduced in medication to 50 percent of what DID relieve pain to a tolerable level for 4 years before the mis -guided-line to reform “social consciousness” and drug abuse, illicit , and or prescribed abuse, misuse. Our doctors, those, without continuous pain can NOT conceive the misery, intolerable… Read more »

Joanna M

Don’t be shy about asking for a wheelchair at the airport – that’s what they’re there for!


I can surely appreciate these tips for those who can. I don’t travel. Period.
I just can’t do it. And, I envy those who can.
Last time I did was over 5 yrs ago…I had to lie down on the floor of the plane on the way to go to my mother’s funeral.
At that point in the day I could not sit/stand another second. I was mortified.
The fact that I can’t do it grinds at my very being. Before I became sick I was a great adventurer. I especially loved road trips.
Ive learned to accept this but it still haunts my mind now and then.
My biggest adventures are only making it to the food store, doctors and pharmacy’s.
I tell myself that if I ever attempted it again…I’d have to rich and hire a private plane with a bed, have a travel companion, stay at the best hotel where I can crash in comfort and peace….
I have only one child, who lives across the country from me.
She has 2 young sons ages 4 and 6. I have yet to meet them. Heartbreaking.
This is one of the great sorrows that comes with my life in Chronic Pain.