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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