Travel Tips For Lupus Patients
Last updated: August 2023
Traveling can be really stressful. But, traveling during the pandemic with lupus or any other chronic illness just adds another layer of stress. Thankfully I love planning and swear I must have been a travel agent in a prior life. Doing all the research, prep work, and planning is a job I'll do again and again for every trip I take. Here are my top 10 tips (in no particular order) when traveling with chronic illness.
1. Always pack medications on your carry-on luggage
Never put it in your check-in luggage. There are too many stories of bags getting lost and delayed. To avoid all the hassle and stress of that, always keep it with you at all times. Another tip is to have 2 sets of medications if you are going on an extended vacation. You'll have one, and someone else in your group has the other. Just in case something did happen to your carry-on, at least one person in your group would have it.
2. Always pack extra medications for travel
I always pack my trip's worth plus an extra week. You never know when a flight could be delayed or canceled. Next thing you know, you'll be scrambling to contact your doctors trying to get a prescription so it can hopefully be filled at the local pharmacy.
3. Besides your regular medication, pack a first aid kit
Since I normally travel with family and friends, I bring a little bit of everything. My kit normally consists of Pepto Bismol, Imodium, Tylenol, Motrin, Benadryl, Neosporin, band-aids, wet wipes, gauze, tweezers, thermometer, scissors, and instant cold compress. Extra masks are also a must-have.
4. Research crowd levels
I know it's unavoidable not to be around people, especially when traveling. But, if you really want to maximize your time and have low crowd levels, I would suggest avoiding all peak holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year, Mardi Gras, etc. There's no fun waiting on super long lines at Disney World or being elbow to elbow with people in Times Square on New Year's Eve, especially during a pandemic.
5. Create a travel checklist
You can do it the old school way with paper or pen. Or you can just have everything on your phone/tablet, etc. When it comes to traveling, you want to be prepared and ensure you don't forget anything. List out all the things you need to pack, google all the restaurants and sights you want to check out ahead of time. This will ensure that you have one less thing to worry about on your vacation. Another thing to list out is a list of your most current medications, your doctors, and emergency contacts. Always good to be prepared just in case.
6. Get plenty of rest before you travel
Traveling is exhausting and can take a toll on your body. Sleep early and make sure you have plenty of rest the night before if you have an early morning flight. If your flight isn't until the afternoon/night, I suggest sleeping in or sneaking in an afternoon nap.
7. Prepare for a time change
But, if you are traveling overseas and jetlag comes into play, I would suggest trying to acclimate to the time zone of that destination. Maybe try sleeping on the plane if the arrival time of your destination is in the morning. That way, you'll be well-rested and will be able to enjoy your first day out. Or, if it's late at night when you arrive, try watching a bunch of movies or shows so you can keep yourself up. That way, once you get to the hotel, you'll be able to crash and sleep well.
7. Arrive early
Plan on arriving at the airport/train terminal/bus terminal early. Security lines these days have been extremely long. So, if you get there ahead of time, you won't feel so rushed or stressed out. Once you are all checked in, you can leisurely look at the shops and get a quick bite. If you are flying and can get TSA precheck or global entry, that would be a huge plus and help expedite the check-in process even faster.
8. Bring your insurance card
When traveling, anything can occur, and you may need to go to the hospital, urgent care, or local pharmacy. It is always best practice to have this on hand, and it will make all the paperwork much easier to fill out. Hopefully, this will also lessen the burden of any medical bills. If you are traveling overseas, try to research some options in your destination just in case.
9. Listen to your body
You know your body best and when something doesn't feel right, speak up. You may need to just sit down and rest and get out of the sun or grab some water to hydrate. Don't push yourself to the max. Take it easy, and then continue.
10. Get tested for COVID before and after your trip
Ensure you do this in advance to have the results when you leave. Do the research and make sure you know the rules/guidelines for entering/leaving your destination.
I hope these tips were helpful. But, the most important tip is to have fun!! Traveling is stressful, but exploring new places, experiencing new activities, and trying out new foods is what makes it worth it. Take all the selfies, buy the souvenirs, live life to the fullest, and enjoy!
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