Vacationing and Fibromyalgia- Tips to Make Traveling Less Painful

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For many, vacation is a chance to escape the stresses of everyday life and reboot. But if you’re one of the 5 million Americans with fibromyalgia, going on vacation can leave you anything but rested. Despite the fact that travelling can be very rewarding, nonstop activity can lead to devastating pain, making a vacation seem too intimidating to even consider. For many of us, summertime means vacation time.

Vacation is supposed to be a time when we get away from all the stresses of daily life, relax and just have fun. Unfortunately, the harsh reality of traveling with fibromyalgia is that often, just getting to our destination is so stressful and exhausting; we spend most of our vacation in bed, trying to recover enough strength to make the trip home.

Well, the fact is that anyone with Fibromyalgia needs to try to keep up with normal life activities, no matter how hard it is. Otherwise, life just passes us by. Therefore, we need to do our best to get up and go as much as possible. Vacations are one of those normal life activities, especially in the summer. It’s not unsafe to travel with fibromyalgia and you shouldn’t feel excluded from vacationing when you have the condition.

What’s tiring for most people on a vacation though can be downright exhausting for someone with fibromyalgia. Why? Dealing with traffic, long lines at the airport, security checks, and getting around in a place you don’t know is stressful and stress can increase the pain of fibromyalgia. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. With a little pre-planning, your vacation can still be the enjoyable experience you want it to be. Traveling is also physically draining. Your Fibromyalgia symptoms may be worsen by long days of sightseeing without enough rest.

Some travelling tips

Get plenty of rest and relaxation ahead of time, even if your vacation is low key. Ask family and friends for help with chores, and make sure to get to bed at a decent hour every night. Any vacation involves travel which can be very stressful for Fibro patients. Therefore, rest-up. Cold and damp weather has been known to make fibromyalgia pain worse. Summer travel might be a better option than winter.

When choosing a destination for your vacation, keep your physical limitations in mind. If heat and humidity make you miserable, going to Florida in mid-August is probably not a good idea. Or if you have difficulty climbing stairs, don’t plan a tour of historic homes that feature high porches and multiple floors. Try to pick a location with weather and activities that won’t add to your discomfort.

Make a list of what you need to do for the trip so Fibro Fog doesn’t cause vacation mishaps. Also make a list of things to take care of at home, from pet care to plant watering to collecting the mail. Ask family and friends for input. Your destination should be a place that you’re interested in visiting, but use common sense when making your plans. 

Avoid Trekking in high mountains or rafting down rapids, where plenty of repeated traumas are likely to occur. Begin making your packing list at least a couple of weeks before you’re scheduled to leave. That will give you plenty of time to remember and add items that you initially forgot. Pack everything except last-minute items a day ahead of time so you’re not rushing around getting stressed right before you walk out the door. Write down a list of those things that can’t be packed until the last minute and put the list with your luggage so you can double check to make sure you have everything you need.

Consider working with a travel agent if you are having trouble getting a good seat on the plane for an overseas flight, or if you need help with transport at any leg of your trip. Travel agents also specialize in knowing the ins and outs of cities, hotels, and attractions. That means they might be able to offer some great advice for Fibromyalgia travel, from hotels with great beds to yoga studios that welcome visitors.

A charming historic hotel that has narrow stairs will be hard to navigate than a newer hotel with elevators, even people who are athletic may have trouble carrying luggage up narrow passageways. When traveling by air, tell the airline you are disabled when you make the reservation. Request a bulkhead aisle seat (first seat in coach). This is the easiest seat to get in and out of and has the most leg room.

Allow yourself extra layover time when changing planes so that, even if the flight is running a little late, you will be able to make your connecting flight without rushing. Even if you don’t normally use a wheelchair, request that one be waiting for you curbside and at the gate of each stop on your trip. Save your energy for sightseeing and other fun activities. Get your ticket and boarding pass ahead of time to minimize the number of times you have to stand in line. Pack clothing that gives you both comfort options and style options.

Temperature fluctuation is common in Fibromyalgia. Prepare for it with light jackets and shawls as well as cool clothes for overheating, Break-in both walking shoes and dressy ahead of time. Don’t try packing too many museums or cathedrals into your sightseeing plans in any one day, although you may want to see as much as you can.

Rather than a lecture about the place you’re visiting, stop at a sidewalk café and watch crowds, this is more fun. If possible, plan an extra day to rest after you return home before going back to the daily grind. Although vacations are enjoyable, they can also be tiring. Vacations are meant to be fun.

References:

  • Vacationing With Fibromyalgia By Marie Suszynski via Everyday Health
  • The Best Vacations for Fibromyalgia: Basic Pointers via Fibro Daily

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