If you live with chronic pain – from joint conditions like osteoarthritis to chronic, diffuse problems like fibromyalgia – you know that taking a vacation isn’t always relaxing. You’re away from your bed, typically walking and standing much more than you would at home, and generally trying to balance everyone else’s fun with your pain levels. Is it even possible to have a good time?
Sure, going on vacation is unlikely to leave you in less pain than you would experience at home, but if you pack the right pain management tools, you can survive none worse for the wear. Not sure where to start? We know you can’t pack everything, but we recommend starting with these X items to keep your pain in check.
It doesn’t matter where you’re going – if you’re leaving the country, always bring your pain medication from home. You may not be able to find the same brands or dosages at your destination.
Bring an assortment of trusted anti-inflammatories and topical creams to treat your pain. Even if you don’t typically use joint or muscle creams, you may find them helpful after a long day of walking.
Whether you have back pain, joint pain, foot pain, or any other kind, you need good shoes. Why? Because your shoes are the bedrock of pain management. They impact your posture, protect your joints, and can even protect muscle strains.
If your itinerary includes stops where you’ll be expected to wear dressier shoes, talk to your travel partners in advance. Will you sit that destination out? Change shoes in the car? Spurn the expectations? It’s important to plan for these scenarios, for all aspects of your itinerary, in advance so that you don’t feel pressured in the moment to compromise your health.
That Perfect Pillow
Your suitcase is pretty full – do you really need a pillow? Depending on where your pain is, maybe not, but most people can benefit from the right kind of pillow during travel. If you have chronic back pain, for example, you might need a lumbar support pillow for use in the car, or on planes or trains, so that you maintain an appropriate posture. Or, if you have neck pain, an orthopedic pillow can help you get a good night’s sleep in that hotel bed. And of course, you shouldn’t be shy about asking for extra pillows at the hotel – there’s just no guarantee they’ll be comfortable.
Pack light, pack smart, and most of all, pack a willingness to be flexible. We all know that chronic pain is unpredictable and can sometimes lead to disappointment. If you push past your limits on day one, you won’t have any fun on the rest of the trip, but if you take breaks when your body says you need one, even if that means missing out on something fun, you’ll experience more and have a better time overall.