If you’re anything like me, the prospect of traveling is a double edged sword. You love to experience new places, sight-see, shop, meet new people and get in some R & R but you may be a bit apprehensive because you know that your fibromyalgia can turn a pleasure trip into a nightmare in short order. We’ve all been there.
The problem with fibro, and most other chronic health challenges, is that they are just that, chronic. As in, always ready to pop up and derail you. That sounds negative but here’s the positive; by planning ahead, you can usually avoid trouble and enjoy your time off.
Here are some things to keep in mind before hitting the open road (or the friendly skies):
- Bring your own food
Many of us have food allergies and sensitivities and if we eat off plan we will feel the consequences. I have wasted many a vacation suffering in the bathroom after making the wrong food choice. Be as vigilant with planning meals away as you are at home. Research restaurants that offer gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free meals. Bring snacks that you can easily eat in transit, such as nuts and seeds, paleo bars, fruit, hard boiled eggs, or whatever you personally can eat and enjoy.
My husband and I like to rent a condo or get a hotel room with a kitchenette when traveling. Then we can prepare some meals, usually breakfast and lunch, on our own. If I make it, I know exactly what’s in it and I can avoid getting sick. Saves money too!
- Pace yourself
It’s tempting while on vacation to try to cram every minute full of adventure. Resist that temptation because just like at home, if you overextend, you may pay the price of being down the next day or two. Know your limits and pace yourself. Schedule in down time and remember your meditation and exercise practices too. Maybe there’s a spa to enjoy?
- Mind your senses
New surroundings often bring a whirl of sensory overload, and that can do a number on us Fibro Fighters. Make sure you have a brimmed hat or visor if you will be in direct sun (that always triggers headaches for me), carry earplugs in case you make your way to a concert and it’s too loud (ditto on the headache trigger), and dress in layers so you are neither too hot nor too cold. By all means, have comfortable walking shoes. I know you look cuter in heels but you will feel much better! With a little planning you can get into the Goldilocks zone of “just right.”
- Sleep schedule
Your body doesn’t care what state or country you’re in, it still needs sleep. I travel with a portable white noise machine (very useful if your room is loud or there is street noise), make sure all windows have shades or curtains that can darken the room sufficiently and I try to maintain my routines around bedtime and wake time. If you are traveling across several time zones you may have to go extra easy on your first couple of days, until you adjust to local time. Always listen to your body and when you are tired, go to sleep.
- Attitude check
When I was first learning about my fibro I had a lot of resentment that I couldn’t go about things, like travel, the way I always had. Well, here’s the deal on that. Go about it the way you always did and you will be sick as before. So, be open minded about new ways of being in the world and have a “can-do” attitude. Focus on the positive things you can still enjoy—not the things that are no longer working for you (like super late nights and lots of sugary treats, for instance). One way to keep your bright side up is to bring your gratitude journal on vacation and add three new things every night that were special about the day.
Traveling with fibro may be different from travel before you knew you had it, but different doesn’t have to mean worse. With a bit of pre-planning you can certainly enjoy the vacation of your dreams and come home feeling refreshed and wonderful. Sound good?
Do you have any travel tips that have helped you stay in good health? Please share with us and leave a comment below.