Summer is right around the corner, and for many people this time of year is peak traveling time! The thought of experiencing sunny beaches and exciting cities or seeing friends and family you’ve been missing is a source of excitement and anticipation. Even just traveling somewhere new for work can make a nice change, especially when you get to go somewhere interesting like a big city and enjoy some new culture and nice weather. Travel tends to be equal parts exciting and stressful for everyone, but if you have a chronic pain condition like fibromyalgia, it can tip the scales in the direction of stress. Your pain can make it difficult for you to take part in the fun summer activities that you want to, but even though having fibromyalgia makes travel more difficult for you, there are still steps you can take to make the process as easy as possible. Here are a few good ones to keep in mind!
Help Yourself Relax
When you’re doing something like traveling that you know is going to be stressful, planning techniques that will help you relax as much as possible is a good way to prepare. Pack something relaxing like an eye mask in your bag, set up a playlist of calming music or guided meditations, and practice some deep breathing exercises before you get on the bus, plane, or train. Preparing these strategies ahead of time will help you to have something to fall back on if you get stressed or nervous, and taking steps towards relaxation while you’re traveling can make a world of difference in how the trip goes.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Remember that while you’re traveling, looking your best is not your highest priority– comfort is! Layering to account for changing temperatures, avoiding restrictive clothing or irritating things like zippers or scratchy tags, and opting for comfortable shoes are all smart choices when putting together your traveling outfit. Try to set yourself up on the best foot for comfort, and keep in mind that when you’re traveling, no one is really that worried about what the person next to them is wearing.
When you have a condition like fibromyalgia, sleeping enough is always easier said than done. However, when you’re going to be doing something stressful like traveling, you absolutely have to give yourself as much time to get sleep as you can. This means managing your time well so that you avoid things like last-minute packing frenzies the night before you leave. It’s also smart to consider the quantity and quality of your sleep when you’re at your destination too. For instance, if you have trouble sleeping in hotel beds, packing your own pillow can be a godsend.
Find Ways to Move
Again, this one is easier said than done when you have a chronic pain condition, but it really helps to be able to work in some physical activity whenever you’re able. Exercising while traveling can make a fun change of pace if you do it right! Break up the routine by taking a quick walk around this new city you’re in. Your hotel might have a pool or gym that can give you access to types of exercise you don’t get that often at home! Even if it’s just doing some gentle stretches on your floor, try to find some way to keep your body moving.
Traveling with fibromyalgia means that constantly going with no rest is not a framework that’s going to work well for you. That “go, go, go” approach is far from the only way to travel, and it can be a lot more enjoyable if you allow yourself to take the breaks you need, whether or not fatigue is something you regularly deal with. If you have to book connecting flights, for example, try to pick ones that have a little time in between so that you can relax in a lounge or at the gate. Take a chunk out of your schedule to account for heading back to the hotel for a nap, or having a cup of coffee in a cafe to give yourself a break.
Weigh Your Transport Options
Depending on where you’re going, one type of transportation might be a better option for you than another. For example, taking a bus might be the cheapest option, but taking a train where you have more space to spread out and more opportunities to get off and walk for a bit might be a much better option for you (especially if it’s an overnight trip. If you can afford it, a sleeper car might be a great choice). Make sure to consider all of the options that are available to you and choose the one that’s the most practical while being the most comfortable.
With these tips at hand, traveling with fibromyalgia this summer should be a little easier, and you’ll be more able to enjoy both the journey and the destination, as well as the people you’re traveling with. Good luck, and safe travels!