TRAVEL TIPS: Chronic Pain and Travel

Since I was 15, I have suffered through chronic pain. Now, whether you have arthritis or fibromyalgia, it shouldn’t prevent you from traveling. Personally, I have a combination of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) that causes me chronic pain in my lower abdomen and back, as well as undiagnosed chronic joint pain in my ankles, knees, and hips. It can be a real pain (literally), especially when it comes to long plane flights or car rides, and even getting around when I’m on a trip. And so, here are some tips that can help ease the pain and enjoy travel!

 Tip #1: Painkillers and Other Medicine .

This may be self-explanatory but painkillers can seriously help. Talk to your doctor about prescription medicine, or request that you have a stronger dose. However, avoid narcotics such as Vicodin! Narcotics can make you feel pretty loopy, which is a feeling you don’t want when you’re on vacation. I know this from experience. On my trip to France and Spain, I had recently been prescribed Vicodin to help with my chronic pain. However, the first day I took it while I was on my trip, I felt light-headed, nauseated, and plain goofy. After that, I went to the pharmacy and bought acetaminophen (Ibuprofen). So if you know of a over-the-counter drug that eases your pain, bring a full bottle. Also if you are abroad and you’re looking at a pharmacy for medicine, know the formal medical name of the medicine because if you say you want Advil some places won’t know what you’re talking about. Advil is an NSAID (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug), so that’s what you would ask for. One more thing to consider: if you have any prescribed medicine, check if it’s legal to bring into the country you’re going to. Because I’ve heard of people that have gotten as far as being arrested and their prescriptions confiscated because they didn’t notify the authorities of the medicine. There was even a scandal involving Korean pop group, 2NE1’s Park Bom. Where aparently she was prescribed amphetamines in the USA, but when she went back to South Korea it was illegal and her career was put on the line. Now it won’t be like that in all places, but it’s something to consider. 

Tip #2: Dress for Comfort.

I kind of hope you do this anyway. If you’re traveling, the last thing on your mind should be fashion. Yes, I admit I am guilty of dressing to impress rather than dressing for comfort. That is why I’ve invested in fashionable, but comfortable clothes and shoes. If you have chronic pain, being comfortable in your clothes feels really awesome. For me, I usually wear a comfortable pair of jeans or leggings, a  loose-fitting blouse, and a soft sweater.   

Tip #3: Take care of yourself.

Sleep at least 8 hours, drink plenty of water, and be sure your body is getting the nutrients it needs. It’s pretty self-explanatory. Those with chronic pain know that if you’re not taking care of yourself, it can make the pain worse. I know it’s especially hard to get enough sleep when traveling. But hopefully drinking and eating right is easier. In my case, I always carry around a water bottle so I know I’m getting enough water. Although I have a diet, I’m careful of what I eat since some foods make the pain worse. As for sleep, I make sure I’m in bed by a certain hour, plus vacation is an excuse to sleep in. Also I have to point out that part of taking care of yourself is being prepared. Once again, stock up on medicine you may need. If you’re like me with joint pain, bring a brace. 

Tip #4: Take your time.

This may be the most important piece of advice. With chronic pain, everything seems to take so much longer. It may not be like that with everyone, but for me, I can get fatigued just from taking a shower. Each individual knows their limits. By all means do not push yourself. It will make your vacation miserable. Take your time, and if plans don’t work out, don’t push it. I’ve had personal experience with this, and it sucks. When I was in France and Spain last summer, we walked all day and a lot of us really pushed ourselves past our limits. I remember on the 4th day, I woke up in the morning, got out of my bed, and collapsed right away. My legs hurt so bad, but I pushed and pushed myself. By day 7, I had gotten used to it. Also, I had to take about 6 ibuprofen a day to suppress my pelvic pain. Somehow I made it through, which I’m super glad I did. But at points, I was extremely miserable. So unless you want to be dreadfully uncomfortable, I suggest you take your time. 

Those are my tips for dealing with chronic pain when traveling, if you have anything to add, let me know in the comments. I hope this was helpful, and for those of you with chronic pain, I hope you get well. 

Happy travels!

COMMENT CHALLENGE: Please comment down below if you are someone with chronic pain. Not only do I like hearing other stories of how people deal with it, it shows others with chronic pain they are not alone. 

One thought on “TRAVEL TIPS: Chronic Pain and Travel

  1. First – sorry you are dealing with that…it sucks!

    I had endo (until I opted for a hysterectomy after it spread to my ovaries) and still deal with PCOS (obviously don’t have the reproductive issues, but metabolically my body is still screwed). I would add that I took a heating pad with me everywhere. I actually still do – being on a plane for a long time tends to leave my shoulders and back tight and heating pads take up no room in the grand scheme of things. Definitely a must for people with pain during travels!


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