Effective Strategies When Traveling with a Chronic Illness

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A Brief History

In 2005, Chronic Illness, a quarterly peer-reviewed medical journal, was established.  When you are living with a chronic illness or chronic pain, it is important to make sure you do not let it stop you enjoying life. This effort can, however, mean that you need to put a lot of thought into things that other people may find easier, such as going on a trip, so that you have strategies in place to ensure you are safe and to cope with your symptoms. Planning ahead a little can make a lot of difference when you need to go somewhere, and can help you avoid situations that may leave you feeling exhausted or anxious, as well as make sure you will get the help you need if anything happens.

Digging Deeper

Here are some strategies to think about next time you are planning to travel:

Make Sure You Know How You will Access Help if You Need It

One thing that can give a lot of peace of mind when you have to tackle new situations like traveling is having a medical alert system that you wear, which can notify someone and make sure you can be found and treated if anything happens. There are lots of devices that you can find that have these kinds of features, and you may even be able to get discounts on a system if you are an AARP member. If you are interested in learning more about what your options are when it comes to the devices that are available and which may meet your needs, there is a good review site for medical alert systems here.

Inform Relevant People Who Will Help You

Another thing you can do to make sure you will be safe is to consider who you can tell who will be able to help you on your journey if you experience any problems as a result of your chronic condition. Talking to the airline in advance of flying can be one way to do this, and can help to ensure that the cabin crew are aware of you and will do what they can to make you more comfortable or to assist you if you need it. Most travel companies such as airlines, bus and train operators have advice on their websites about what you should do to notify people working on your trip if you need extra help or attention.

Have Easy Access to Your Medication

Make sure you have as much medication as you will need on your trip, and also have some extra if you can, stored in a different bag or on your person, in case there are any issues where you lose luggage or have your bag stolen. Doing so will make sure that you will always have access to your medication, but you should also have a plan in place for if you do, for whatever unexpected reason, need to acquire more of it while you are away. If you just use over the counter pain medication like paracetamol, then this can be as simple as identifying the nearest drugstore to where you’ll be staying, but you may be glad you took that extra step and researched this in advance. If you only use prescription drugs, make sure you can find a way to see a doctor or get a replacement prescription if you are away and lose access to your drugs.

Most of the time, it is really just a case of working out in advance who will assist you if you need help, and how you will get access to what you need. By thinking about this for every step of your trip, you can have an effective strategy that will make traveling a lot less stressful.

Question for students (and subscribers): Do you have tips for traveling when ill?  Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Horn, Danea.  Chronic Resilience: 10 Sanity-Saving Tools for Women Coping with the Stress of Illness.  Conari Press, 2013.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by StockSnap of a woman traveler adventuring on a mountain rock, is from Pixabay, where the creator has released it explicitly under the license Creative Commons Zero (see here).  This file is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication.  This file, which was originally posted to Pixabay, was reviewed by the administrator or reviewer Leoboudv at , who confirmed that it was available on Pixabay on that date.


About Author

Abdul Alhazred

“But I don’t want to go among mad people," Alice remarked. "Oh, you can’t help that," said the Cat: "we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad." "How do you know I’m mad?" said Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn’t have come here.” ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland