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12 Tips For Traveling With Chronic Illness Based On My Personal Experience

traveling with chronic illness / beach houses

Last Updated on August 11, 2022 by Lori Geurin

Wondering how to go on vacation while suffering from chronic illness? This article offers you twelve useful tips for traveling with chronic illness.

We recently took the family on a spring break trip to Florida so I thought I’d share a little about our trip with you. I took my laptop on the trip thinking I’d write along the way, but between being so busy and feeling pretty wiped out from the fast pace, it simply didn’t happen.

David and I agreed it was one of our favorite trips with the kids yet. I was thankful the boys could come because they’re often busy with work or other activities like college kids are. Every family has its own vibe and when we all get together, there’s a lot of laughter. Plus, with all 6 of us together, things can get pretty loud. We all love music, joking around, the occasional debate (some more than others-ha!), and having fun.

Here’s a short recap of our trip…(then I’ll give you the 12 travel tips).

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traveling with chronic illness / beach houses

Our Spring Break Trip To Orlando, Florida – 2017

The weekend before our flight left for Florida we’d been in Columbia, MO for the Class 4 State Basketball Tournament where our High School boys played in the championship game. They played hard and did a great job!

We went back home for a night and repacked for Florida. The next afternoon we flew into Orlando and moved into our hotel, which was located near SeaWorld.

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Universal Studios, Islands Of Adventure

We woke up early the next morning, ate a big breakfast, and headed to Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure.

Drew and Cooper have read the Harry Potter books and seen the movies, and Maddie and Emma have read and seen some too, so this was definitely something they wanted to check out. Some of the kids even tried the Butterbeer.

We rode ALL the rides we were interested in riding and then some. Thankfully we all love to ride roller coasters so no one was left out and it was a blast. Talk about a G-force extravaganza!

And we did a lot of walking! At the end of the day, my Fitbit said I’d taken over 15,000 steps!

By 5:00 we’d conquered all the rides and had such a fun and full day.

We were hungry. So we headed out to Freddy’s for giant burgers and fries and frozen custard (because of vacation). Then back to the hotel to crash around the pool and go to sleep.

spring break family vacation to florida 2017
Highlights From our Family Vacation To Florida, March 2017

Traveling To SeaWorld Was Next

Rest. Rinse. And Repeat.

Woke up early. Ate a big breakfast. Headed to SeaWorld first thing.

SeaWorld has changed so much since when D and I were kids. I thought it was pretty cool then, but they have some of the best coasters now, including Mako, Kraken, and Manta.

The weather was gorgeous! The lines to the rides were short. I don’t think we had to wait more than 10 minutes to ride anything so we were loving that!

Plus, the shark aquarium is super cool and the Antarctica penguin exhibit is so much fun. Are penguins not the cutest little birds? We talked to some beautiful parrots and petted the stingrays. The leopard print ones were my favorite!

We saw several shows, all of them entertaining and impressive

  • Dolphins
  • Killer whales
  • Sea lions

Overall, it was another super-fun day! And my Fitbit said I had walked about 14,000 steps….much more than I’ve done lately. Thankful for that. But, whew, was I feeling wiped out.

We were all hungry for dinner and went to Moe’s and filled up on giant burritos and burrito bowls made with fresh ingredients, including cilantro lime rice and guacamole (my personal favorite).

Then back to the hotel for some relaxation by the pool until we were ready to turn in for the night.

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How To Travel With A Chronic Illness

If you or someone you love have a chronic illness, you probably understand how difficult traveling can be. For me, traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I love the beach and won’t pass up an opportunity to go if humanly possible.

But since getting Lyme disease and a host of related medical issues, traveling is often challenging in ways that I never considered before when I was healthy.

I love to be on the go and be involved and it really bums me out when I can’t keep up with everyone else (but it won’t stop me from trying).

Even so, there have been plenty of trips when I’ve been stuck in the hotel room with a migraine, or in too much pain or too exhausted to move, etc. I can definitely be pretty stubborn when it comes to accepting this and have a lot of work to do in this area. But trust me, I get it. It really stinks to be shut in when everyone else is out exploring and having fun.

But then again, I’m praying and working towards recovery of my health so I’m not willing to give in. I’ve learned the hard way plenty by overdoing it (as I’m sure many of you have too) and then spending a week or more recovering flat-out exhausted.

We all make our choices I suppose.

But you know what? You only live once, and (assuming your doctor hasn’t restricted your activities) to me, it’s so worth it to have to take a few days off to recover when I return from a trip.

Like right now, I’m wiped out, but I’m thankful to be able to write this blog post. On this particular trip, I made the mistake of forgetting the turmeric curcumin supplement I take for body pain.

Nothing is perfect, but if we can learn to go with the flow it helps!

Whether you’re traveling with an autoimmune disease, immune system issues, or other chronic conditions, these next tips will help you get the most out of your vacation.

traveling with chronic illness / woman on vacation

12 Tips For Traveling With Chronic Illness:

1. Plan ahead.

Pack your medicines, supplements, etc. ahead of time to make sure you have everything you’ll need. Research the area you’re visiting. Not to be a Debbie Downer, but do they have a hospital nearby in the case of an emergency? It’s good to be prepared.

2. Communicate.

Talk to your family or friends you’ll be traveling with. Be honest about your medical limitations and how you’re feeling.

(Find out how to communicate better with friends.)

3. Give yourself grace.

You may not be able to do everything you want to do but that’s okay. This has been the most challenging part for me but I keep repeating it to myself and it helps so much!

4. Enjoy the small things.

Be thankful for the small things and try to focus on the positive. It’s always there. Sometimes we just have to look a little harder to find it.

5. Keep a gratitude journal.

There are so many benefits of practicing gratitude. When you focus on all that you’re grateful for it changes your mindset and helps you focus less on your illness and more on all of the good things in life.

Find out how to keep a gratitude journal.

6. Show kindness to fellow travelers.

It’s easy to win over your travel companions if you remember to say please and thank you. It’s all too simple to forget this when you’re not feeling well. Try to remember that your illness is not only difficult for you but can be hard on your loved ones too….because they love and care about you and want you to feel better too.

7. Focus on your nutrition.

Even though it can be more challenging to eat healthy when you’re traveling, making good nutrition a priority will help you keep up with your healthy lifestyle. Eating healthy meals will nourish your body and improve your energy and mood.

Pack some healthy snacks to take with you while you’re traveling. Packing your own snacks can help you avoid unhealthy food choices and undesirable blood sugar levels. Here are a few easy snack ideas:

  • Fruit, including apples, bananas, grapes, berries, and peaches
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Raw vegetables, including carrots, celery, and baby tomatoes

8. Drink plenty of water.

Staying well-hydrated has many health benefits. Carry a water bottle everywhere you go to remind you to drink water throughout your day.

9. Exercise your body.

Gentle stretching can feel so good and, if you’re up for it, take a walk outdoors. I love exploring new places on foot. Just make sure not to overdo it and remember to drink plenty of water.

Many hotels have gyms to work out in if the weather isn’t great outside. Just a few minutes of walking on the treadmill or lifting light weights can help keep your muscles strong.

RELATED: 7 Best Exercises for Overall Health and Wellness

10. Enjoy the fresh air.

There are so many wonderful things to do outside, and even if you don’t feel like going anywhere, being outside is therapeutic.

Enjoy the sunset in a comfy chair. Or simply go barefoot outside to get some grounding benefits.

11. Be flexible.

Try to be open to what others want to do when you’re going on a trip with family or friends.

However, don’t feel obligated to complete every single thing your group does. If you’re tired or not feeling well, you may want to take a nap in the hotel. That’s perfectly fine.

12. Have fun!

Don’t forget to have a little fun and keep your sense of humor. Enjoy spending time with your friends or family and try to keep a light-hearted approach.

This will help you and your loved ones make your trip memorable…even when you’re traveling with a chronic illness.

More Posts About Chronic Illness:

Our printable medication tracker can help you track your medications and supplements.

Chronic Illness Travel Essentials

When you’re traveling with health issues, it helps to be prepared. Here is a list of travel essentials

If you are traveling with a chronic illness, it is important to have all of your information and supplies organized and easily accessible. One way to do this is by creating a medical folder. This folder can hold your doctor’s notes, your latest medical script, and any other relevant information. It can also be helpful to have an emergency protocol sheet in case you need help while on vacation.

In addition to your medical folder, it is important to pack any medications or medical equipment you may need. Be sure to also pack snacks that will help keep your blood sugar and digestion levels stable. And don’t forget a high-quality pillow and walking shoes to make your trip more comfortable.

Final Thoughts – Traveling With Health Issues

Thanks for letting me share about our family trip with you! We’ve enjoyed plenty of “staycations” and they can be super fun too, but I’m thankful it worked out for us to get away together this time.

I want you to know that if you enjoy traveling as I do, you don’t have to give it up just because you have a chronic illness.

Remember to be prepared, honestly communicate how you’re feeling with your travel buddies, and give yourself grace when you’re not feeling well. Be flexible with your travel plans, focus on the positives, and get some fresh air.

But, most of all, have fun visiting somewhere new and making memories with the people you love.

Do you enjoy traveling? Do you or someone you love have a chronic illness?

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