Four Tips For Holiday Travel With Chronic Pain

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching and Christmas close behind, many Americans are starting to figure out and set their holiday travel plans. Whether it’s your turn to travel to the in-laws just a few hours drive away, or you are flying across the country to see the grandkids on the opposite coast, if you are a chronic pain sufferer, it’s a good idea to take your pain into consideration in your plans.

1. Plan Ahead for Your Pain

While it would be wonderful to leave your pain at home with the rest of your belongings that don’t fit in your suitcase, it is likely that you will need to manage your pain, or even deal with flair-ups, on your trip. To make the trip enjoyable, consider the things that you need to be comfortable. If you are staying in a hotel and need extra pillows, a handicapped accessible bathroom, or other accommodations, contact the hotel ahead of time to arrange it. The same goes for staying with relatives. Discuss sleeping arrangements ahead of time. If your pain already makes it hard for you to sleep in a normal bed, sleeping on a blow-up mattress or couch is unlikely to work for you.

If you are flying, try to book your flights during non-peak travel hours. Having an empty seat next to you makes it easier to change positions when necessary, and to reach your carry-on items under the seat in front of you without twisting and straining. If it is necessary to travel on a packed flight, consider pre-boarding so that you are not rushing to lift bags into overhead bins and you can get settled in before the other passengers board. If gate agent questions your reason for pre-boarding, a quick explanation should be all that is necessary.

Get lots of rest and take time for extra self-care if possible the week before the trip. Travel can be grueling for anyone, so make sure you are going into it well rested. This also means packing in advance, not staying up to do it the night before. This brings us to the next tip.

2. Pack for your Pain

The first thing to consider is the type of luggage to use. A suitcase with wheels is ideal, to reduce lifting and minimize carrying. Then, you must consider what to pack. Writing a list and checking it off as you go will help ensure that you don’t forget any necessities. As for those necessities, here are some items that may help you stay more comfortable during your trip:

3. Set Healthy Boundaries with Others

Discuss your physical limitations with those you will be spending time with during the trip. This will help them manage their expectations, and cause less stress on you. Ask your loved ones for their support in staying within your limits. If you have to stay behind from a day trip to rest or get an early bedtime, let them know that it is so you can make the most of your time together.

4. Set Healthy Boundaries for Yourself

It is easy to push yourself too hard when traveling or spending time with family. Make sure to pay extra attention to your body’s cues about your restrictions and energy level. Be realistic about your abilities; rest when necessary and don’t go beyond your limits.

It helps to prioritize the experiences you want to have during your trip, so you can be sure that you will be able to do the things that are most important to you. For example, if you love cooking and are planning on helping to cook Thanksgiving dinner, don’t stay up late catching up with your cousin the night before.

We hope these tips help you reduce stress during your travel and enjoy your holidays!
For additional resources for tips and tricks to traveling with chronic pain, check out:
imperfecttraveler.com
spine-health.com/5-tips-flying-back-pain-free
matadornetwork.com/essential-packing-list-for-travelers-with-chronic-pain

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