Chronic Illness Traveling 101
Traveling: an idea that many individuals with chronic illnesses fear or steer away from. I am the girl to tell you that traveling is possible! My name is Maria and I have a passion for traveling.
I have been diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, chronic migraines, daily chronic headaches, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and anxiety disorder in my 22 years on this beautiful earth. My second home is the doctor’s office and I am on multiple medicines like Remicade infusions and Botox. I have not been successfully in remission for Crohn’s Disease and it’s been a difficult journey. With that being said, I have made a promise to myself that traveling would still be in my life. Going to a new city or country is just enriching to the soul and mind. In my opinion, getting away from home is the best way to clear my mind. I know it is not easy when being chronically ill, so I have concocted a list of tips that I think will help anyone who wants to travel:
- Research, research, research! I put a lot of time aside to research the places I want to visit and especially the hotels. It’s almost silly to spend all your hard earned money on a hotel with crappy beds and service! I go on Trip Advisor and read through reviews of the service and comfort. Having a comfortable place to go back to after a long day of sight seeing, etc. is essential! Also, the location of your hotel is super important to a stress-free holiday.
- Be smart in packing your carry on! My first mistake when traveling with being chronically ill was being poorly prepared for a flight! Being gluten and dairy free, airplane food is not even an option for me. I always bring protein bars (Go Macro is my favorite) with me in case I’m hungry! Especially with longer flights, you have to be smart in what you bring with you in flight. My go to items for my carry on include: extra underwear, all of my medicines (NEVER PUT YOUR MEDICINES IN YOUR CHECKED BAGGAGE), Benadryl, a sleep mask, ear plugs, hand sanitizer, and (if tolerable) a good book or magazine.
- Communication is key! Communication with waiters, flight attendants, and the people you’re traveling with is essential to a successful trip! Don’t be ashamed to say you need a break, traveling can take a lot of energy out of you! With having Crohn’s Disease, dietary restrictions are crucial to not have a bad flare up. If I don’t know the language of the country I’m going to, I look up phrases ahead of time like “I’m allergic to gluten and dairy” or “is this made with butter or olive oil?” One little mix up can create a disaster! I write these phrases in my notes on my iPhone. Looking up restaurants ahead of time that have food you can eat can save you lots of time and stress (and I write them in my notes section on my iPhone as well)!
- Don’t push yourself! If you feel like you’re physically incapable of doing certain activities (like a walking tour or sitting on the beach all day,) you don’t have to! That’s the beauty of vacation; it’s up to your discretion on how you want to enjoy your holiday! I go to Greece every summer to see my family and there are just some days that I would stay behind and relax while everyone else did other activities. You should never feel pressured to do anything you’re not comfortable with.
- Enjoy yourself! Sometimes with being stressed about how fatigue can hit at any moment, the planning of the trip, the annoyance of packing can take away from the reason why you are traveling: to enjoy yourself! I will be the first to admit that I get more caught up in the planning thus causing myself stress. I have learned that planning is not a stressful situation, but a pleasant situation!
- Keep up positive thinking! Your attitude throughout your travels can dictate whether or not you will have a goodtime on your holiday! If you are negative and extremely worried about what will come from traveling, there is a high change that you will not have a good time. Going into the traveling with positive thinking can make your trip less stressful and more pleasurable! (I know easier said than done, but trust me, positivity is your best accessory!)
I hope my little list eased your nerves! Expanding your horizons is possible with your limitations! It just takes a combination of positivity, planning, and an open mind. Feel free to reach out to me through the links below if you have any specific questions.
Safe travels, lovelies.
Maria's blog: www.chronically-chic.com
Maria's Instagram: @chronically_chic