Everyone enjoys taking a nice vacation sometimes, but people with chronic pain often find taking a vacation to be challenging. Chronic pain is a common and troublesome problem. Arthritis, fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, stomach conditions and migraine headaches are just a few types of conditions that can cause chronic pain. For people living with chronic pain, even the thought of sitting in a car or the cramped seats on a plane can make them feel like taking a vacation is nearly impossible.
While chronic pain is a hard condition to live with, staying as active as possible may help you feel better. You deserve to have fun and to take a vacation. Traveling with chronic pain doesn’t have to hurt, and here’s what you can do travel with more ease.
De-stress before your vacation
Taking a vacation is a great way to relax and de-stress. But, what about all the stress leading up to taking a vacation? All of the pre-vacation tasks you have to do, such as packing and cleaning, can make you feel stressed. More stress means more anxiety and chronic pain.
- Breathe and regroup. When you start to feel stress building up, stop and take a few minutes to regroup. Try sitting down and taking a few deep breaths. Think about which tasks are your priorities, and make a plan to complete them.
- Pace yourself. As you prepare for your vacation, pace yourself. You don’t want to wear yourself out. Take time to rest when you need to.
- Ask for help. Call a friend and ask for help with cleaning and packing if you need it. It’ll be fun to hang out with your friend while getting things done.
Getting organized and staying organized can help you stay relaxed and focused. Making a checklist is a great way to stay organized, and it feels great when you get to check off something from your list. Here are some simple tips to keep you on track:
- Make a list. Think about what you need to do to keep your pain level down. Some things that you might put on the list include: medicines, a neck pillow, a heating pad, cold packs or a blanket.
- Think about transportation. Are you going to fly in a plane or drive in a car? If you’re flying, try to find direct flights that go straight to your destination. Booking a direct flight will help you avoid long layovers in the airport and having to change planes. If you have special needs (like use a wheelchair or need extra time to board the plane), let your airline know ahead of time. They will work with you to make traveling easier. If you’re driving in a car, make sure that the car you’re riding in has an adjustable steering wheel and adjustable seats.
- Need a hotel? Unless you’re staying with family or friends, you might need a hotel room. Consider booking directly with the hotel if you need special accommodations. You can do all your research online, but call the hotel directly to book the room. When you talk with someone at the hotel, you can explain your needs, like having a room on the first floor or near the elevator.
Take care of yourself
You’ve prepared for your vacation and stayed organized. Now it’s time to enjoy your vacation. You know your body better than anyone else. Once you reach your destination, consider these easy tips to stay as pain-free as possible.
- Prioritize your activities. What do you want to do the most? What time of day do you typically feel your best? Make a list of the things you want to do and rank them from the most important to the least important. When you prioritize your activities, you’ll be able to do them during the best time of day for you, so you can maximize your fun. If you have a pain flare-up, you’ll know which activities you can cut from the bottom of your list.
- Get plenty of rest. When you’re having fun on vacation, it’s easy to accidentally do too much. Plan rest breaks during your activities, so that you don’t accidentally overdo it. Make sure you go to sleep on time. Getting a good night’s sleep helps recharge your body.
- Stay comfortable and stretch often. Choose clothes that are comfortable, like tennis shoes and loose-fitting clothing. It’s ok to stop and put your feet up for a few minutes, too. As you enjoy your vacation, remember to do your stretches. Staying limber can help lower your pain level.
Don’t forget to have fun
With a little planning, you can enjoy taking a vacation even if you’re living with chronic pain. Remember to be open about your needs and limitations with anyone you’re traveling with. Your family and friends will want to help you so everyone can have a great time together. From a week-long getaway to quick weekend trip, you’ll be glad you took some time to renew yourself.