I’ll admit that I was very naïve to believe that my chronic illness needed a vacation just as much as I did, and that it wouldn’t bother me while I travelled with my family. Let’s blame it on my youth, shall we? I sobered up approximately two minutes into the flight when I had to fight the urge to jump off the plane and hide somewhere (anywhere). I didn’t. I figured out a few survival tactics and I’ve broken them down for you here.
Chase the weather that is best for you. For instance, if rain is bad for you, choose to travel to a place where it isn’t raining.
I didn’t exactly do this one… So one afternoon we were by the water, the sunset was beautiful and we considered it a general success.
But then as we were driving back to where we were staying it started to rain, and when I say “rain”, I mean rain. It was so heavy we couldn’t even hear the thunder over the noise the rain was making as it hit our car. Besides the very real fear that we would be in accident, I was also suffering physically. We ended up pulling over into a gas station (along with twenty other cars) and waiting it out, and thankfully we made it home safely. So besides the fact that I can now say I have seen real forks of lightning (that were terrifying and awesome at the same time), I would still advise others to chase the weather you like most. Rain is not mine.
If you need to eat certain foods, bring them with you. I’m used to eating many fruits and vegetables and things that have a lot of protein in them, and it was hard to find the right foods while we jumped from place to place.
I did actually do this one! Sort of. I’m used to adding a spoonful of chia seeds to whatever I have for breakfast and without them I suffer, so I brought them with me and it worked out very well. But other than that I mostly ate starches, and was happy to get back home with its variety of foods to choose from.
Comfortable clothing, comfortable shoes, and a comfortable place to stay are key for avoiding excess pain. I know that a lot of the time people prefer not to spend too much money on comfortable hotels or apartments for rent, but if you’re going to need to return to the place multiple times during the day to rest, it should be as comfortable as you need it to be.
In the span of 11 days we stayed in 6 different places, so clearly the level of comfort ranged from “not at all” to “hey, this isn’t bad!” as we hopped. But as the comfort level went up, my pain level went down. Also, a word to the wise, the middle seat in the back row of a car is horrible and it’s best to not end up sitting there for long drives (even if you get a great view out of the car, like in the picture below).
Adjust your expectations and take things as they come. Yes, it totally sucks to be in exciting places and not get to see and experience everything you might want to, but how much would you really enjoy if you were in pain the whole time?
There was one day, probably the worst day pain wise, when I was in the place we had rented for the entire day. I went out for only two hours, and they were absolute torture because I just wasn’t up to it. Did it suck? Yes. Was it what I had imagined I would do? No. Was it what needed to be done? Yes. If you see that you are up to doing things then go for it and enjoy yourself, but if not, give yourself a break and don’t wallow in sadness over the things you are missing out on.
Choose to spend your energy on activities you know you will enjoy. I refuse to disclose whether this was shopping for me*. I refuse, I tell you. It’s no use badgering me about it. Shopping is fun, okay? No, I’m not defending it, I’m just saying. You know what, just leave me alone! Like you can judge, you wear clothing too.
Be open to letting the person/people you’re traveling with do things without you. It’s their vacation too, and though maybe they are really nice and don’t want you to be alone or feel left out, encourage them to branch out on their own and do things at their speed. It’s their vacation too. That way they won’t feel like they’re being held back and when they are with you they will be less likely to lose their patience or be snappy.
Once you’re out somewhere, try to make the best of it. Often you’re not in a situation where you can get back to your room very quickly and there’s nothing you can do about. In these cases, don’t drive the people you’re with crazy by complaining. Try to find at least one thing about the experience that you do like, and focus on that.
If I started telling you about all of the times I did this I would basically be giving you the rundown of every day, so just take my word on it. One time in particular I wasn’t feeling well as we were beside a beautiful lake, so I went into the convenience store nearby and bought a jumbo bottle of bubbles. It kept me busy and happy for an hour, and the bubbles looked stunning on the water!
“Bring only what you need to survive!” Contrary to how this sounds, I actually mean you should bring the things that help you feel better. This may mean you bring heating packs with you and request to have a microwave wherever you are staying, or it may mean you bring distraction: books, a tablet or a computer, music and whatever else helps you. The words in bold are actually a quote from Spaceballs (the movie), when the main woman is told by the main man to bring only what she needs to survive with her. The two of them are lugging her royal highness’ matched luggage through the desert, and of course he finds out she packed her humongous hair dryer.
Laugh. Seriously just laugh it off**. Not only is that laughter good for you and can actually make you feel a little better, it’s also just a good way to survive hard situations. A sense of humor always makes everything better!
I hope this helps you and please leave a comment with your own tips so others can gain from your wisdom too!
Go ahead and just live it up, go on and tell me your path, and hold on. –Even My Dad Does Sometimes, Ed Sheeran
Proportional Pain and My Guilty Genes
*I only went shopping twice the whole time, it’s not that bad!
**Get it?! Oh man I’m so punny…. I crack myself up.