A vacation is usually the high point of the year, but for people with chronic pain, a supposedly fun vacation can herald anxiety. How to cope with the long-haul flight or the long lines at the airport? How to enjoy relaxing by the pool or intrepid exploration when your pain distracts you? How to stick to your nutritional plan? How to avoid a flare-up, which might sabotage your plans?
Worse still are the business trips where relaxation and independent travel are seldom on the agenda. Many people who have chronic pain also experience severe fatigue and impaired immune function — pair this with jet lag and the stress of air travel, and you have a spell for disaster.
“I love planning a vacation,” says Megan,* 34, “but I get increasingly anxious in the week leading up to the trip. I wonder whether I will enjoy it, whether it will be money wasted. I also wonder whether it’s a wise move health-wise, given how far I will be from my comfort zone and the medical professionals who usually support me.”
We asked women with chronic pain for tips on how to make traveling less stressful and more comfortable. With a little forethought, hopefully your travels will be a little more bearable — if not enjoyable.
*Names changed as these interviewees requested anonymity.
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