The rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has many of us casting an eye toward the future, when we may be able to do some of the things we’ve been missing. For some, this includes travel.
But for people with chronic illness, an urge to see the world may be quelled by the logistical difficulties presented by their particular health needs. Will you be able to find the right kind of food? What kind of toxins will you be exposed to? Will your chemical sensitivities be triggered? Wouldn’t it be easier to just stay home?
As a functional medicine practitioner who has dealt with my own chronic health problems, I’m happy to report that it’s absolutely possible to travel safely and successfully with chronic illness. Here are some suggestions to support you on your journey.
When packing for your trip, don’t forget to include your supplements and other treatments. Make sure your carry-on isn’t too heavy, but still contains everything you’ll need for a long day of travel. This includes healthy snacks and other foods that meet your dietary needs.
Planning should extend beyond travel days to include the trip itself. Do some research about the area where you’ll be staying. Locate the nearest grocery store, and know how to get there. Check for accessible modes of transportation. Find out if your hotel has a gym or pool so you can maintain your fitness routine. That way you won’t feel so disoriented when you arrive because you’ll know where to find what you need.
Focus on Fresh Food
The best way to ensure you’ll be able to eat in a way that supports your illness is to focus on fresh food. Request a refrigerator in your hotel room, then take a trip to the grocery store and stock up on easy-to-eat fruits and veggies. Avoid potentially exposing yourself to environmental toxins in tap water by drinking bottled water.
If grocery shopping isn’t an option, check to see if your hotel offers complimentary breakfast. You should be able to find some healthier options, like fresh fruit and oatmeal, to meet your dietary needs.
Choose Accomodations Wisely
When booking a hotel, look for newer buildings that are more likely to have decent air circulation. Request a room with a balcony or a window that opens, and keep it open as much as possible during your stay.
To avoid unwanted exposure to potentially toxic cleaning supplies, book your stay at a hotel that uses only natural and eco-friendly products. Many of the major hotel chains will gladly honor your request that no cleaning chemicals be used. Some even have hypoallergenic rooms with built-in air purification systems. These hotels can be a lifesaver for people with chemical sensitivities.
Check for Mold
Many people with chronic autoimmune conditions find their symptoms are both caused and triggered by exposure to mold. Having experienced mold toxicity myself, I know how dangerous hidden mold can be. That’s why I always examine my hotel room for signs of mold immediately upon check-in, and I advise my patients to do the same.
In addition to looking for visible mold spots (especially in the bathroom), check for musty or odd smells. If you notice anything, don’t be afraid to advocate for your own health by asking for a different room.
Find Ways to Unwind
As exciting as it is, travel can also be very stressful. Since stress can aggravate symptoms of most chronic illnesses, it’s important to prioritize relaxation when traveling. To keep stress in check while on the go, consider downloading a mindfulness meditation app on your smartphone. That way you can find a moment of zen no matter where you are.
Essential oils can be quite soothing, and a bottle fits easily in your purse or carry-on. Try sprinkling your pillow with a few drops of lavender before getting in bed, or add some to a hot bath.
Expect the Unexpected
No matter how painstakingly you plan your trip, you’re bound to hit some bumps along the way. A single flight delay can throw your carefully- constructed schedule into chaos!
When faced with circumstances beyond your control, the best thing you can do is accept and adapt. Knowing in advance that you might need to come up with a plan B can help you stay calm in the face of unexpected challenges.
You Deserve Adventure
Chronic illness doesn’t have to hold you back from living your travel dreams. No matter where your adventurous heart leads you, I hope these suggestions help you on your journey. Feel free to reach out to us at My Pure MD for travel tips that are personalized to support your unique health needs.