This is a guest post by Maria Mongiardo
Traveling With Lupus In The Summer
Thank goodness it is finally summer! The sun is out, you have planned days off, you packed a bag, and are ready for the adventure of a lifetime. However, living with Lupus or any chronic illness can sometimes put a damper on your summer holiday. When planning your vacation, think about what you would want the vacation to look like if you were having a “good” Lupus day. Consider the things you would want to do: swimming, walking the beach (maybe in the evening?), going to historical sites, etc. Now, think about how you could best enjoy your vacation while having a “bad” Lupus day. Instead of running around visiting a bunch of landmarks, maybe you could take a bus tour, or sit in a cafe with a book, people watching. Think about which of the more demanding activities are the most important to you, and which can be replaced with something calmer. Then, when your vacation comes along, you can tackle it effortlessly and have “go-to” options on your high energy days or low energy times.
Packing A Bag For the Trip
This is essentially the most challenging part of the vacation. It would be wise to start packing your bag or bags days in advance. Packing ahead of time allows you to rest your body days before the start of the trip. Frantically packing the night before will only stress you out. If you are driving, pack your car ahead of time if possible. Include in your car a cooler with water and snacks to keep your sugar levels normal and your body hydrated. Make a list with everything you will need and check items off as you go. It would also be smart to include an emergency bag. This could have items in it such as Advil, your daily medications, a water bottle, lotion, wet wipes, snacks, loose clothing, or a blanket.
Research/Plan an Itinerary
Before you leave on your trip, research what the closest hospitals are around the location where you will be that accept your insurance. You can also jot down the name of an emergency walk in clinic, just in case. You never know when or how horrible a bad pain day will be. Decide what you think you would want to do on your bad pain days and good pain days. Having a list of activities to do during your vacation that can fit with how you are feeling will benefit your overall vacation experience!
The Flight or Drive to Your Destination
If you are flying, try to pre-board. You can attempt to walk up to the check in and tell them why you need to pre-board. Having a doctor’s letter can certainly help. Buy a decent travel pillow and pair of headphones. Bring luggage on wheels whether you are flying, driving, or taking a train. If you are driving with someone and need to take a break, do so. Tell them you need them to drive, or you need to get up and walk around. Do not wait to feel the ill effects of pushing yourself too hard.
The Vacation Part
Enjoy yourself! Even if you are having a not so great pain day. Prioritize what you want to see and experience. This way you have a plan of attack and do not overdo it and cause yourself to be in a lot of pain during day 1 of the trip. Be realistic and mindful of your body and energy level. You are the only one who knows how much energy or what food you can eat. If you are not comfortable or need to make sure you do not have an allergy to something, be sure to speak up! Regardless of where you go or who you are with, make sure you alert them to your conditions and what those conditions mean for you. Let the people around you know what they should expect and need to do if something were to happen. It is also handy to keep a printed document in your wallet that lists your conditions and current medications, plus allergies.
The Journey Home
All vacations come to an end at some point. I am sure you miss your bed and home. Hopefully, during your vacation you were able to listen to your body. You know your body better than anyone else and you know the consequences of ignoring your body’s warning signs. If the vacation did not go as planned, I hope you rest when you get home. And remember to not push yourself past your limit.
Traveling when you have Lupus does not have to be hard. It just takes a little extra planning by making sure you have all your supplies.
What trips will you go on this summer? How will you prepare beforehand? Let us know in the comments below.