Summer is supposed to be a time of fun, right? And of trips and fun travels, correct? But for those of us with chronic pain or other chronic conditions, planning for a trip or even thinking about the trip can be stressful!
Lists are the friends of travelers, but for those with autoimmune issues, there is often an extra layer of lists just for medications and for over-the-counter medical stuff and supplements. There may be the five ice packs you bring along for your own inflamed joints and another family member's. We're currently packing for a combo Camp JRA trip for our son and then later we'll have packing for our trip to Michigan where I have book signings and two library presentations. One thing I love about Pennsylvania's Camp JRA program is 1) they give you a complete list of often-needed things for kids with juvenile arthritis and 2) your child is not the only one hauling all this stuff.
Deciding to even take a trip requires a lot of prayer. God, do you really want me doing this? Even knowing that I could have a flare up, or another family member could? What if I forget my medications? What if I need health care in a remote location? When you're out of state your insurance works a little differently, too.
For those of us already barely managing to do our daily activities of laundry, cooking, keeping up with bills, and some cleaning -- planning a trip adds an entire extra layer of requirements. There is usually some shopping to do. I mainly shop for groceries, every couple of weeks and that is pretty much it. So today, adding some shopping for cargo shorts added a little extra to our Sunday and, although I hate to admit it, taxed my already low stamina. If you've never read about the spoons theory and autoimmune disease, here's a link (click here.)
Here are just a few tips I have besides first committing your travel to prayer and to the Lord:
1) Figure out your usual schedule and how often you are "down" from your ailment, on average. Take the "good" days or your best days and count those up and divide by the number of weeks. Let's say you find out you really only have 2 days a week that are "ok" days where you get your list done (for me it is a)laundry, b) meals, c) bills, and d) some kind of cleaning) then estimate how long it will take you to prepare for the trip. Take that time and divide it up over those good days. You may find out it takes you over a month to have stamina to prepare for a one week trip.
2) IF possible, delegate and also enlist the help of others to help with the work.Sometimes just discussing the list with another adult can help. Be sure that person understands where you are going. For instance, in some rural areas of Michigan, where we often travel, there isn't going to be a Walmart to run to! And even if there is, they may be out of stuff that you didn't bring.
3) Be careful not to add too many activities to that period of time leading up to the travel. IF you do that, then you need to add more weeks to your expected packing time.
4) Personally, I've found it easiest to keep a travel bag of sample sizes ready for personal items. That normally takes me a ton of time to pack, so keeping a personal bag all stocked up saves me a lot of time.
5) If you're going someplace where you're wearing your normal everyday clothes, as you get closer to departure consider packing right from the dryer, instead of putting clothes away. Ask kids and spouse to use some of their less-worn items in the interim before the trip.
6) Don't compare yourself to others. You may need an entire suitcase filled with cold packs, special pillows, TENS unit, etc. and a special pillow.
7) The stuff you use at home to manage your illness often becomes taken for granted. As you get closer to the trip really pay attention to the stuff you use on a daily or even weekly basis. For instance, I use a memory foam pillow when I sit for very long, so that has to come with me. Also, don't forget to pack medications that are only for your "worst" days, just in case.
GIVEAWAY: What about you? What do you need to pack for your vacation that you can't do without?
I'm VERY excited about the paperbacks of my new release Saving the Marquise's Granddaughter coming out on July 1st and I'll be packing a box to take up to my book signings!!! Leave a comment for a chance to win an autographed copy!