Traveling with Fibromyalgia: 5 Tips to Make Your Trip Successful3 min read

Traveling with fibromyalgia

Traveling when you’re perfectly healthy can be hard on your body. When you have chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia, it can be grueling. You’ll have to deal with lots of walking through the airport, cramped seating, time changes and irregular schedules, food you’re not familiar with, and a bed that’s not your own. If you’re not careful, any one of these challenges could trigger a fibromyalgia (FM) flare-up that could ruin your trip.

However, with a little planning and help from your travel companions, you can have a successful trip. These tips will help you anticipate some of the potential triggers you’ll encounter during your trip, and how to avoid them or deal with them while you’re traveling.

Changes in the Weather and Temperature

Many people with FM are extremely sensitive to temperatures and changes in the weather. While it’s not always possible to avoid the conditions when you’re traveling – especially if it involves another climate or time zone – you can prepare. And remember that airports can be cold since they crank the air conditioning – I myself spent an uncomfortable 2-hour layover shivering in SFO.

Tip: Like the Boy Scouts – always come prepared. Have a light jacket available at all times in the bag you’ll be carrying with you, so you can pull it out as soon as you need it. Layers are your friend.

Stress

Stress is one of the biggest FM triggers and there’s no shortage of it when you travel. Delayed flights, missing baggage, sick kids – they can all get your heart rate going. Again, these may be unavoidable but remember, as Jack Sparrow said in Pirates of the Caribbean – “The problem is not the problem. The problem is our attitude about the problem.”

Tip: Let some things go when you’re traveling. If you miss a flight, there will always be another one. Remember your deep breathing exercises and forewarn your travel companions that you may need to take some time for yourself to practice them.

Lack of Sleep

You won’t have access to your regular bed and you may have a time change to deal with as well. These factors, combined with the general hustle and bustle of traveling, can lead to missed sleep – a big no-no if you have FM. Know going into the trip that you’re going to have to make sleep a priority.

Tip: Many FM sufferers find it beneficial to bring a thin roll of foam on a trip to smooth out the lumps and bumps of a strange bed. You may also need to schedule a few naps and regular bedtimes, even if it means missing an excursion with your travel companions or some late-night fun. Avoiding an FM flare-up is worth it.

Breaks in Your Treatment Plan

Anything that breaks your normal treatment plan can put you at risk for an FM flare-up. This includes changes to your routine, which the tips above will help you to avoid. But it also includes missing doses of your prescribed medications and other therapeutic approaches you use on a regular basis.

Tip: Make sure you stock up on the medications you’ll need before leaving for your trip, and search online for pharmacies at your destination in case you need them. You can also ask your doctor for recommendations for service providers – such as therapeutic massage therapists and acupuncturists – who can help alleviate symptoms and keep your fibromyalgia management on track.

Image courtesy of The New York Times.

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