You’ve booked your flights, got your passport and packed your bags. You’re good to go, right? There’s one more important thing to consider if you have a chronic illness, how will you manage it while you are on holiday? Following my recent trip to Barcelona here are a 5 tips for travelling with a chronic illness.
Bring extra medication or a prescription with you
Sticking to your medication schedule is important. It’s a good idea to bring more medication than you are due to take and pack it in a different bag, so if anything happens to your luggage there is a chance you won’t be without your medication.
Make sure your medication is still in the packaging from the pharmacy and prescription labels are visible.
Depending on the country you are travelling to and/or the medication you are taking you may be required to have a prescription with you or a letter from your doctor. This can be checked with your doctors before you leave.
It’s a good idea to get into the habit of travelling with a prescription anyway as it provides another layer of protection should you lose your medication.
Have a plan, but be prepared to change it
We knew the places we wanted to visit before we left, so in order to prevent fatigue getting the better of me we spread activities over the week.
Things like seeing the Sagrada Familia and The Picasso Museum on different days, rather than trying to fit them in to one, meant I was able to enjoy myself more because I wasn’t worrying about getting to the next place on our list before the fatigue set in. Over the course of the week I probably travelled more by doing it this way, but it was in manageable chunks.
While having a plan can help, realising when your plan needs adjusting is also important. We rearranged our visit to Girona to earlier in the week, when I was better up to facing the train journey out of Barcelona.
Master the public transport system
If you are hiring a car then this won’t apply, but for people planning on getting around by foot mastering the local public transport system is a must.
We were lucky with Barcelona because the transport system is comprehensive, integrated and frequent. I don’t think I would have been able to see nearly as much of the city as I did without it.
Yes, the walk between platforms and stations when changing metro lines can be long but, I didn’t feel the need to rush because I knew the wait would be no longer than 3 or 4 minutes either way. If I needed to slow down or take a minute or two to catch my breath, I did.
Allow yourself to feel…
All the planning has paid off and you’ve made it to your chosen destination. Enjoy yourself, but it’s important to be aware of your emotions. Stepping outside of your daily routine and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone is bound to make you feel…something. Whatever that feeling is it’s important to allow yourself to experience it and deal with it fully.
Whether you’re happy because you’ve had a good day or frustrated that things didn’t quite go as you’d planned, talk about it with your travelling companion. Don’t bottle things up; it won’t do you any good. Remember to be patient with yourself, you are doing the best you can.
Fatigue is my biggest symptom, at the moment, so getting enough rest is high on my list of priorities. Thankfully, Barcelona made this pretty easy considering the amount of benches dotted throughout the city.
The key is to slow down and not to push yourself too hard. Yes, you’ve likely got a list of things you want to do, but overdoing it will take the joy out of your holiday.
Allowing yourself time to readjust when you arrive home is important as well. If you can give yourself a day or two of taking things easier when you get back your body and mind will thank you for it. Don’t throw yourself in at the deep end.