9 Tips For Traveling Overseas With Lupus
Last updated: September 2022
Traveling overseas with lupus or any other chronic illness can be daunting. However, I believe we shouldn’t have to miss out on seeing our beautiful planet as long as we plan ahead.
Travel was a way of life before lupus
Travel was a huge part of my life pre-lupus. I was extremely fortunate as a child as I had amazing grandparents who loved to travel and would take me on lots of vacations overseas. I believe it was from them that I developed the same "thirst for travel," and I knew from an early age that I wanted to work in the travel industry. I was lucky enough to follow my passion, and I worked overseas in the Canary Islands and for various airlines in my younger years.
Lupus paused my travel plans
Once my health started to decline, I had to finish work. I remember thinking I’d probably be too unwell to travel overseas again – especially on an airplane, as it can be highly tiring even for the healthiest of people!
I remember I had my honeymoon booked to Greece. It had been booked a couple of years in advance, so I had no idea how much my physical health would have deteriorated at that time. The prospect of this terrified me, and we ended up canceling it. I felt so sad, but I knew I couldn’t cope at the time.
A few years passed, and I was really missing going abroad. I knew I had to try and see if I could manage it when I had an opportunity to go to Florida. I live in England, so I knew it was going to be a long journey, but it’s also one of my favorite places, so it was this that swayed me into taking a leap of faith!
Planning helps ease travel woes
Planning was definitely the key to my experience. I knew that I couldn’t manage the walking distances at the airport, so I arranged for ‘special assistance’ to meet me with a wheelchair when I arrived at the airport. I have to say this was the best thing I did. I was taken on board the aircraft and was met upon arrival. I didn’t have to wait in any long queues.
It might sound a little silly, but I shed a tear when I arrived at my hotel. I couldn’t believe that I’d made it. I’d spent so long feeling like lupus had taken away one of my passions in life (along with many others), and I felt like I’d made a small victory!
I had a wonderful vacation, and although I was exhausted, I knew it was possible. I still had to pace myself and plan, but that was no hardship.
Travel tips for people with lupus
I have since traveled to a few more countries, and I recently returned from Turkey, which is another personal favorite of mine. Due to my experience, I have compiled some tips that will hopefully help anyone considering traveling overseas with lupus:
- Create a buffer Allow a few days before you travel to rest as much as possible. This will allow you to conserve some energy.
- Book "special assistance" at the airport in advance. This will ensure you don’t have to worry about walking too far and standing in queues.
- Ensure you have packed your medication in your hand luggage or carry-on. This is so your medication can be easily accessible plus if your suitcase goes missing, you haven’t lost it.
- Speak to the cabin crew on the flight and make them aware if you are suffering from any pain or discomfort. They will help you.
- Research the country where you are going to and also make sure you check out accommodation to ensure it will be suitable for you; you don’t want lots of steps to climb. You may also require a fridge in your room for medication, so check if they will provide one.
- Look into a scooter rental for when you arrive if you feel like you need one. Many scooter rental companies will drop off and collect at your hotel.
- Look into what foods will be served at your chosen destination. I suffer from gluten sensitivity, so finding gluten-free options in Turkey was quite challenging. Here in the UK, companies such as Allergy UK will make up cards in your chosen language to show that you have a food allergy.
- Visit your doctor and have a chat. Suppose you’re concerned about blood clots or swelling due to flying. They may suggest taking low-dose aspirin or wearing compression stockings.
- Ensure you have good travel insurance which will cover pre-existing health conditions.
Planning ahead is definitely the key, but if you allow for this, you should be able to enjoy the vacation that you deserve!
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