It’s estimated that around 100 million Americans experience chronic pain, which is a condition that lasts for over 12 weeks.
For millions of people with chronic pain, the idea of traveling can be a daunting one. Not only is it physically demanding, it can also disrupt their carefully managed routines.
While waiting for the pain to go away can be very challenging, it can also prevent people from enjoying the benefits of traveling.
Although chronic conditions can make it hard for people to travel, they should not prevent them from doing so. They should discuss their conditions with their healthcare provider as soon as possible.
Air travel can also pose various risks for people with chronic conditions. Some of these include having a heart attack, stroke, or uncontrolled high blood pressure. They can also be advised not to go on trips if their conditions worsen.
We urge that you plan ahead of time, beginning with these basic steps.
Traveling By Plane For Those With Severe Illnesses
In today’s air travel, the cabin’s oxygen levels are suddenly lowered. This could be dangerous for people with certain health conditions.
But, in most cases, taking proper precautionary measures can help minimize the risk of this condition. For people suffering from heart diseases that cause reduced blood oxygen levels, it is important to travel with a companion.
On longer flights, people with circulation disorders may have swelling legs and other pain. Blood clots can also form as a result of prolonged sitting. To assist mitigate these dangers, you should:
- At least once each hour, go for a walk and/or stretch your legs and arms.
- While sitting on the plane, do leg lifts multiple times an hour.
- Wear compression or well-fitting stockings.
- If your doctor recommends it, take a low-dose aspirin. (This is not a good idea if you’re already on a blood thinner.)
For people with chronic conditions, it is also important to get detailed information about available medical facilities in other countries. Also, be sure to check with your insurance company to see if they have coverage for you.
Make An Appointment With Your Physicians
If you live with chronic pain, you probably have a trusted doctor who will see you regularly. To avoid any issues, make sure you check your travel plans before you leave.
Aside from making an appointment, make other arrangements for as soon as you return from your trip.
If your doctors don’t see any issues with your trip plans, you’re good to go!
Make A Pain Relief Stockpile
Before you embark on your trip, make sure that you have the necessary documents in order to get the proper medicine for your trip.
Since some medicines are not available internationally, pack whichever brand you use. Also, make sure that you bring along the necessary oils and creams for your pain management plan.
A first-aid kit is also useful in case of an emergency. Also, a paracetamol like Tylenol is good to have in your pocket in case of an emergency.
Always start with exercise or massage, and never underestimate the power of a hot shower to reduce discomfort by relaxing your muscles.
Adopt A Mental Health Plan That Is Pro-Active
Studies have shown that chronic pain can affect our mental health. It can trigger a vicious cycle that can lead to issues such as depression and anxiety.
To combat this, try downloading a mindfulness app and practice doing five-to-10-minute sessions every day. It can help calm down your anxiety and provide a great relief.
If you see a psychologist regularly, you may want to give them an email address or phone number so they can reach you.
Inform Others That You Suffer From Chronic Pain
Sometimes, people with chronic pain avoid talking about their pain in order to avoid being perceived as being whiny.
If you are planning on traveling, especially with a group of people, tell them that you have chronic pain. It’s a good idea to share this information with them in order to make them understand.
It also helps if the people you are traveling with know about your limitations. They may also be able to accommodate you if you cannot do anything due to your pain.
Make A Serious Effort To Stick To An Exercise Routine
Being active is good for our physical health, but it can also help improve our mental health. Studies suggest that regular exercise can improve our mental health and reduce the pain associated with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia.
If you have been cleared by your doctor to exercise, then a travel exercise program should be considered. It’s also important that you consult a physiotherapist to get started.
Ideally, start planning your exercise program in advance so that you can maintain a healthy and fit physical state while traveling.
Bring Some Comfortable Walking Shoes With You
If you have flat feet or are experiencing soreness from walking, then a podiatrist may be able to help. They can order custom-made orthotics for their shoes. Once they have made these, they can then give you suggestions on the kinds of shoes that would best fit.
When it comes to shoes, make sure that you have the right ones for your feet. Also, be prepared for the possibility that you might end up having to do something unexpected while traveling.
Make A Strategy And Don’t Cram Too Much Into Your Schedule
If you have flat feet or soreness from walking, a podiatrist can help get them fixed. They can assess their feet and order custom-made orthotics. They can also give suggestions on the shoes that would be best for them.
When choosing shoes for travel, make sure that they are comfortable and support your feet. If you are planning on going out for a walk, make sure that you have the proper shoes in mind.
Schedule A Massage
A massage is a great way to relieve tension and improve blood circulation. It can also help lower pain.
When planning a trip, schedule a professional massage every couple of weeks. You can also use your own massage oils at night.
Look for reliable massage parlors in the areas where you’ll be staying online, and read their ratings on Google or Yelp.
Make Nature Time A Priority
Getting out and exploring the outdoors can help lower your stress levels and improve your emotional well-being.
However, if you have chronic pain, it’s important to check with your doctor first before planning a hiking trip.
Getting sun exposure is good for boosting your Vitamin D stores. Certain natural substances found in the ocean and the sea can also help relieve pain. They include bromide, which helps lower stress and improve muscle aches.
Take Out A Travel Insurance Policy To Protect Yourself
Being unwell in a foreign country is the worst. Although you’re never required to purchase travel insurance, it’s a good idea to carry it if you’re planning on going on expensive trips.
Travel Medical Insurance can help you get medical attention when you’re not in the US. It also provides various benefits for emergencies.
Getting sick while traveling can be an exciting experience, but it can also be very expensive. A travel medical insurance policy can help minimize the financial burden of getting sick.
You can also keep a list of all the emergency numbers that you can reach for various institutions and insurance companies.
A study in 2016 found that sleeping too much can lead to insomnia and pain. The lesson is that being able to sleep well can help lower stress and improve overall health.
It’s important to avoid organizing too much before a trip, as it can increase stress and make it harder to sleep. Also, try to sleep well the night before.
If you are a troubled sleeper, try downloading an app that helps you fall asleep.
Pack a neck pillow or a soft mattress cover if you have space in your luggage.
Food is a big part of travel, and it’s also a way to learn about different cultures.
If you have a heavy meal, try to make your next meal lighter and more healthy. Not eating right can affect your metabolism and worsen your pain.
Ideally, bring some of your own food and take it with you when traveling. It can be hard to find healthy options when you’re traveling.
If you don’t like the cuisine on the plane, bring snacks, and eat well in the days preceding up to your trip. Give yourself the best chance of succeeding.
It’s hard not to feel frustrated when traveling due to chronic pain. However, remember that it’s still possible to see the world.
What Should You Put In Your Suitcase?
- Take everything you’ll need to get a good night’s sleep. Because I travel across the country every month, I’ve customized this itinerary to fit the hotels where I’ll be staying.
- Take care of your five senses. For me, this means bringing chamomile tea bags, a small candle, and a lighter (all of which fit easily in my checked luggage), essential oils, an electric blanket, knee and eye pillows, sunglasses, earplugs, headphones, and fuzzy socks. All of these things are on my list that waxes and wanes depending on how I’m feeling. When I travel, my destination hotel usually has enough pillows so I don’t need a knee pillow. I can get away without wearing headphones on occasion. However, when packing, keep your senses in mind and try to make comfort portable.
- Bring two pairs of sneakers. Minimum. You can bring more, but I don’t advocate bringing less. You’ll have a dreadful time if one pair gives you a blister and you don’t have a backup pair.
- Don’t forget about the toiletries. After a long day of travel, a lengthy, warm bath is sometimes the greatest thing for me.
Rest Once You’ve Arrived.
If possible, take a day off after you reach your destination. This will give you enough time to recover and make plans for the following day.
On the other hand, I usually end up crashing for a whole day after I get home. This is lower stress than worrying about it.
As an adult, I learned that if something happens to me, I will always try to take advantage of the opportunity to rest. This applies to everyone around me, even if it’s just for a moment. On my next trip, I will try and avoid using a motorized scooter because it’s very energy-efficient.
Related: Can You Bring Yoga Mat On The Plane?
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To help you plan ahead, we created a guide that will cover all of the details of planning a trip for people with chronic pain. It’ll also give you valuable points and miles.