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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My Top 5 Tips For Traveling With Fibromyalgia (Or Other Chronic Condition)

A picture of a bridge from a vacation we took in 2009.

We just got back last night from a 4 day vacation - the longest vacation we have taken since probably the above picture was taken, and definitely the longest since my diagnosis.  It dawned on me when we got back that a lot of people wonder how a chronic condition, especially one involving pain with so many trigger factors, affects vacation or travel.  Truth be told, it can make a huge difference, especially if you are used to being a go-go-go type vacationer, so I decided to share with you My Top 5 Tips For Traveling With Fibromyalgia (Or Other Chronic Condition) today.

~* Tip One *~

Pack with your condition in mind. 

Make sure that you have that extra blanket or jacket to help keep you warm if heat helps you from pain or helps your pain.  Remember to keep a blanket and/or pillow handy for the car/plane ride (or make sure they are provided), too.  Catching a chill and being uncomfortable on the trip can lead to aches that just make the travel portion not so fun. 

Think about your triggers (food, exercise, rest, etc.), and pack the things you need to keep your triggers at bay, even if that means you bring your own snacks or buy them when you get there or if you have to bring a yoga mat to do some stretching or whatever it is you need to do to keep as pain-free as possible.  Don't be embarrassed - this is life and don't make excuses or feel bad for it.  Those who love you will understand, and if you are going alone, you need to make time for you to feel your best.  It is better to take the time to do things right for your body so that you don't end up in severe pain later. 

Also make sure that you have your medications, vitamins and supplements with you.  Vacation is no time to skip those!
~* Tip Two *~

Stop/stretch often.

If at all possible, get up and stretch your legs every hour to hour and a half, especially if you are driving.  This helps keep you from cramping up or getting stiff or experiencing other types of aches and pains.  We did not do this as much this time, and I do regret it today.  I was VERY stiff by the time we did stop.  My hubby did ask me if I needed to stop, and I told him no, so totally my fault here.  I will not make this mistake again. :)

~* Tip Three *~

Plan activities with your condition in mind. 

We did a lot of walking while we were gone this time, and that went surprisingly well, but I think that's because we did it in spurts, not all at once.  We would walk for no more than an hour or so, then stop and rest and/or let the kiddos play.  We didn't do hiking, we walked on flat surface which was another great thing for me.  My sister also bought food that fit more of what I needed diet-wise, and that was great (though I did overdo and eat some no-no foods and am paying for it today, but again, that's my bad, not theirs)!  We also planned for a leisurely/late morning so that late night chats/TV/movie marathons were possible. :)  I did crash one night pretty early, but they were understanding and that was a blessing and encouragement to me that they had such a great attitude about it all.
~* Tip Four *~

Eat with your condition in mind. 

I know, I know - vaca is a time to eat at abandon, right?  Wrong!  Just because it is vacation for you doesn't mean that Fibromyalgia took a vacation with you.  It is still there ready and willing to ruin things for you. 

If you can, plan on buying your own food or discuss with your host what foods you can and can't eat.  Offer to help with the food bill if it is a huge difficulty for them to buy according to your needs. 

If you plan on eating out, research the restaurants in the area and do the best you can to avoid food triggers in that respect.  We were able to go to an amazing buffet that hand some wonderful choices for me.  No, I didn't follow all of my rules, but I was able to follow most of them there, and that was a nice twist for me.  Now, I did regret not following them fully, so lesson learned, but again I was grateful that they were willing and able to help me keep my food triggers at bay. :)

~* Tip Five *~

 Do things you enjoy and avoid stress. 

I know this sounds like a no brainer, but it really is not.  To me, vacation can be so stressful, especially the packing.  This was the first time I actually had a game plan on when to make sure things were packed and how to pack and had a mental checklist of activities that would be ok to do that would still be fun for all, and I was prepared to say, "I will have to pass" if I needed to.  I even made sure that I had a book and some Kindle games ready just in case.  Knowing in advance that I had back-up plans and that I had an idea of what needed to be done and when was so stress relieving I can't even explain it to you. 

If you can leave the packing up to someone else, do it - I personally can only leave the loading up of the car to hubby or I freak out. LOL  I know, weird quirk, but it's true.  At any rate, if you can give it to someone else without it stressing you out worse, do it.  Do what you can to relax, and make back up plans and talk with your host (if applicable) about your limitations and expectations to help increase the fun factor and lesson the stress factor.


I hope that these tips can help you in your next vacation or traveling adventure.  I know they helped me!

What is your best tip for traveling with Fibromyalgia or other chronic condition?
(This post was originally posted on my original site, Fibro, Fit and Fab!)


  1. {Melinda} These are great tips, Julie. I really do keep all these things in mind as I travel. It's not always easy to do, but when I'm conscious of trying to do these things, it really does help make the trip more pleasant. My family all know these things are helpful for me, too, and they don't argue or complain because they know I'll be more fun if they cooperate with these things. Great post.

    1. Thank you, Melinda! I think the only other thing I didn't post up there that is critical (though the thought was implied and alluded to) is getting plenty of sleep! You gotta take time to get the sleep you need or that can totally ruin vacation by leading to a crash and burn, ya know?

      I'm glad you liked and could relate to the post. I hope it helps a lot of people.

  2. These are absolutely fantastic tips. I have a very good friend with fibromyalgia and I'm making sure she reads this. These are perfect for folks traveling with any chronic illness, though. --Lisa

    1. Thank you, Lisa. I hope she finds them helpful.

      Thanks for stopping by and have a great day! :)


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