My friend Laina posted about motivational quotes and making mistakes in weight management last week, and it got me thinking about traveling with pain. (Because you know, it’s all about ME!)
Laina’s metaphor for tripping up and going off her food plan: dropping an egg on her kitchen floor. If she drops an egg, her next act is not to throw all the rest of the eggs in the carton onto the floor too. Similarly, if she eats a cookie at work, she doesn’t declare that all her weight loss efforts are in vain, go home, and have ice cream and cake for dinner. If she has a cookie at work, she goes home and has a healthy dinner.
What does that have to do with traveling with pain?
Okay, it’s not a perfect parallel to the eggs. But the base meaning matches up: Making mistakes doesn’t mean you have to give up doing something important, or healthy, or fun. Just because you make a mistake when you’re on the road and bring on a pain flare, doesn’t mean you immediately have to stop your trip, go home, and never travel again.
I make mistakes when I travel all the time. ALL the time. I forget things when I pack. I don’t plan perfectly for transit days, or I have to make compromises for budget that make transit difficult. I mess up with my medication schedule. My most common travel mistake: I overdo it. I hike too far, stay at the museum too long, sit through a four-hour meal at a gourmet restaurant.
Sometimes my mistakes don’t have major consequences. And sometimes the consequences are severe. The Atlanta Airport Incident was the result of a number of mistakes made over the course of a week-long trip, compounded to create a really bad situation.
I definitely won’t do that again. Because I am going to travel again. To the Caribbean, I hope. Possibly the Mexican Caribbean.
No matter what mistakes I’ve made on trips, no matter what mistakes I make when I travel in the future, I won’t stop traveling.
You don’t have to stop traveling either. You will make mistakes when you travel. You will have pain flares on the road. Some of those pain flares may result in a few hours’ inconvenience, others may wreck whole trips. But a wrecked trip doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Instead of thinking “crap, I wasted tons of money and I had a horrible flare and so I’m never leaving the house again!” try reframing the experience thusly: “Crap, I had a horrible flare on my last trip. What can I learn from the experience, so that the next time I travel I’m much less likely to have even a small flare? How can I change the way I travel so that I have more fun and less pain?”
So how would I do a Caribbean cruise differently to keep myself on my feet in the airport bathroom?
- Travel with a companion, if possible.
- Keep in mind that huge cruise ships are huge and plan accordingly:
a. Consider renting an ECV to use on board ship.
b. If I’m attending a conference, bring my own folding reclining chair to use during sessions.
c. Plan my conference session attendance carefully, so as to limit walking back and forth across the ship.
- Request a special diet on board ship.
I don’t eat a typical American diet at home. I eat a lot of fresh raw fruits and vegetables, no fast food, minimal packaged food, and I don’t eat out very often. The cruise ship food had a huge negative impact on my health. I’ve since learned that I can request special foods, including much more raw fruits and veggies than are typically available in the buffets and dining rooms.
- Spend a full day and night at the disembarkation city after the cruise.
Most big-ship cruises steam into port at the crack of dawn and passengers are shuffled off ASAP so that the ship can be turned for the next crowd of passengers. I was off the ship in Florida before 10 a.m., but my flight didn’t leave until midafternoon. So I was exhausted, and had several hours to kill with no place to put my bags and no place to lie down. So I rented a lounge chair on the beach and got myself a nice sunburn. I got up and got a “meal” at a convenience store sometime around noon.
Bad calls all ’round. I’d’ve done much, much better if I’d gotten a room at a motel and crashed for the night, then flown out the next day.