chronic illness

Taking Time for Me in May Special Edition: Traveling Tips

Time for another special edition for the Taking Time for Me in May series! Of course, an essential part of self-care is taking time to get away!  Whether its 10 minutes or 10 hours away, vacations are so important!  Its a great time to relax and regroup.  But we all know, traveling with a chronic illness can be tough!  When we were planning our trip to Orlando a couple years ago (right before my hysterectomy), I searched for travel tips and have since kept this article bookmarked!  This article is Tips for Traveling with a Chronic Illness and comes for wonderful spoonie, Stefanie Leale, over at  Enjoy!

Tips for Traveling with a Chronic Illness!

What is one of the most stressful things to do during the holidays? Travel!!! Most of us have more than one place to be this holiday season, whether it’s traveling between in-laws or traveling between family members, it’s still the
stress of having to pack up the car and the kids and traveling as long as hours on end.

I’m going to share a few tips for traveling with a chronic illness and then traveling with kids! Both are hard and then combine the two and it can even seem impossible.

Traveling With a Chronic Illness.

Last year was the first time I was traveling with a chronic illness, I had to come up with something to make the trip a little easier or suffer the consequences. So I came up with my traveling bag, it’s the same idea as the waiting bag but made just for traveling.
-Bottled Water
-Snack (granola bars, crackers, etc……. Or chocolate (anything for me to
sneak in chocolate)
-Book, or crossword puzzles.
-If you are like me and can’t read in the car due to car sickness, I made a little investment in a portable cd player., which now are quite cheap or MP3 players are great too. This way you can listen to music and not have to fight
for the car stereo or radio.
– Blanket, this is a must in cold weather traveling, especially when in a van and stuck at the back where the heater might not reach fully.
-a pillow for resting
-and if you are lucky to have a DVD player in the van or better a portable DVD player, this is also a good investment for long trips, just remember ear phones to plug in so you don’t have to hear all the commotion in the car and
can relax while hearing your movie.
-Bring your I.C.E bag (the in case of an emergency bag). I always bring mine with me, this is the bag that you keep packed away in the closest for those emergency trips to the hospital. In it is-
-nightgown or PJ’s
-clean under garments
-list of meds
-your doctor’s name and phone number, along with you name, phone number, address etc…
-a list of any allergies to meds
This is an important thing to have with you always, but especially during traveling since you never know if there will be an emergency where you may need to be taken to the hospital and it’s always best to be prepared. This is just a small bag and I usually keep mine packed in the hall closet with the exception of the water and snacks, which I add when I need to.

Other tips

-Make sure that whoever you are traveling with is well aware of your illness and that they may need to make frequent bathroom or rest stops along the way should you need to, always take that into account when planning
your route on any trips. I am usually ok with bathroom stops as long as my Irritable Bowel Syndrome is under control, but I’ve had car sickness since being diagnosed with lupus and find that at least every hour I need to stop
and get out of the car for some fresh air. So make sure your family or partner know this.
-Make sure you bring all your medication with you and that it is easily accessible in the car should you need it along the way. Don’t pack it away in your suitcase because if you should need to take something it’s more of a hassle to take it out. On the highway or freeway it’s almost impossible to stop quickly just to retrieve medication, so pack it away in the traveling bag you keep next to you or your purse. It is just as important to keep water near by in your travel bag too. That is the reason for snacks also, as some medication you need to eat with.
-Make sure at least one person on the trip has a cell phone charged and ready in case of any emergency.
-If you are prone to car sickness always keep a plastic bag or garbage bag in case of the need to be sick this keeps everything clean, and have a box of Kleenex in the car.
-Also if prone to car sickness, make sure that you refrain from eating dairy products at least three hours before going in the car and eat a light meal before going on a car trip. If traveling in the morning eat some toast and
juice and if at night eat as light as possible and wait a while before traveling.

Traveling with Kids.

If you have the above taken care of for yourself, now add kids into the mix and you have more to worry about, but there are some things to do that can help.
-My mother always made a little bag for us filled with water, or juice, snacks, and some books. She also cleverly at Christmas kept a small toy each just for the car ride. It was never expensive toys just something from Walmart or the dollar store, but it was the new toy that worked to keep us quiet (this was before DVD players in the car).
-If you have a portable dvd player or one in the car then you are ahead of the game and this is something worth thinking of if you do a lot of traveling as a family. They really work I’ve seen it with my own eyes! But if
you decide to do a small toy each, here are a few things to keep in mind.
-Make sure the toy is new and hasn’t been seen by the kids until that moment, as it’s the novelty of it that will keep them happy,
-If you have more than one child around the same age make the toys equal or the same, as the last thing you want is arguing.
-Keep the toys simple and make sure they don’t have small parts that can get lost in the car or you will be stopping to look for items and that will cause more trouble.
-Try to find toys that will help your kids think and have fun, keeping their minds occupied and they will stay quiet.

Other Tips

-If you have more than one child and you see that two of them normally don’t get along or fight more, try not to place them beside one another. Chances are if two children fight normally an extra long car ride will bring that out of them in the car. Try to seat them apart.
-If like my family there are only two children and they fight and have no choice but to sit next to each other then my mother came up with the reward game, where if we were quiet and polite for the trip and the time we were at
relatives houses, then we were rewarded with a trip to the dollar store and we got to pick out one thing as a reward. But if were were bad we got something taken away from us, we got punished. It worked, we were usually on our best behavior and a dollar store gift didn’t run my mother more then a couple dollars, so as a reward a few dollars was worth the price of silence.
-Also prepare for frequent stopping when kids are involved, as they will have to go to the bathroom and of course they will all have to at different times. So just keep that in mind, also my mother always kept a garbage bag in the van just in case one of us got car sick which rarely happened, but isn’t impossible, especially on the way home when kids are stuffed full of Christmas sweets.
-Bring a few blankets, at least one small blanket per kid, to keep them cozy and a pillow each is a great idea especially for traveling at night.
These are just a few tips and ideas to hopefully keep your holiday traveling as stress free as possible, so that you can enjoy this special time with family and friends. Merry Christmas everyone and happy traveling!

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