Hey readers! This week I’ve got a guest post by Fiona Hill about road trips. She gave me some new things to try!
Road trips can be daunting for people suffering from invisible illnesses. We all know that unnecessary stresses can exacerbate everything from chronic pain to fatigue. So, does that mean that those of us suffering in relative silence should miss out on the trips that everyone else enjoys?
In short, no! With a little extra care and preparation, road trips when dealing with chronic pain and other ailments are possible. Check out these tips to make sure you’re comfortable and enjoying yourself!
Before You Leave
If you have a long journey planned try to make sure you are well rested before the journey starts. Organize everything you need in advance, including medication to avoid rushing and becoming stressed, as stress often triggers conditions like fibromyalgia. Have an itinerary planned for your journey and for your break when you arrive at your destination, and factor in a day of rest before you travel back.
Possibly the most important part of any road trip when you are suffering from an invisible illness is your seat. Whether you will be seated for an hour or 8 hours (we hope not), it’s important that you are comfortable. Whether you rent a car or are driving your own make sure the seat you will be occupying is comfortable by using a mesh back support or an orthopedic back pillow that will give you extra support and help you to maintain your posture during the drive. You can also pick up neck support pillows at most retailers that will ward off neck aches and pains. The better your posture the less stiff you will become.
When your seat is as comfortable as possible you might want to think about some simple stretching exercises you can do whilst in the car to prevent any stiffness that will soon turn into pain, as well as fighting off fatigue. Head to http://www.drivetimeyoga.com/roadtripstretches for information on road trip body stretches, including ‘Stoplight Yoga’ and the ‘Tailbone Tuck’.
Think carefully about how much luggage you need to take, especially if you’ll need to unload or load it by yourself. Heavy lifting can make your symptoms worse leaving you unable to enjoy your trip.
That said; don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. What’s worse? Asking a stranger for help or dealing with days of pain by pushing your body too much?
Stop! Restroom Time!
Planning your journey with rest stops is important. No matter how comfortable your seat is or how well planned the start of your journey was, nothing beats a good break! If you’re aware of restrooms and roadside dining options along the way you can avoid mad panics when you feel a bout of fatigue or pain beginning. Where possible you should find out as much as possible about the rest stops along your journey, do they have the correct facilities for you? Are they known to be clean? How large are the toilet stalls? Do they have handrails? (Liz: Are they safe and comfortable for solo/female travelers?)
When Hunger Strikes
Staying well hydrated and well fed during your journey ensures that you have the energy to continue. It’s especially important to eat a healthy breakfast. Avoid snacks that are laden with sugar that leave your system quickly and choose foods that will provide both instant and slow release energy like dried fruits, nuts, bananas, whole-grain bread and a splash of coffee.
If you need to stay alert, chew peppermint gum; the chewing motion and minty flavour will help you to stay awake. (Unless you’ve got TMJ and can’t chew gum—in that case, sucking mints can do similar things. –Liz) Chewing apple slices has the same effect and will also boost your fructose levels.
How do you cope with your invisible illness during road trips? If you have any tips or tricks then let us know. Check out Liz’s post on 10 Ways to Screw Up Travelling with Pain.