This is for all of you out there experiencing chronic pain and trying to make the most of your holiday traveling despite that. This is for those of you who are fighters, who won’t let your pain stop you from seeing your family, friends and loved ones this winter season. This is for every person silently (or not so silently) suffering in discomfort or outright pain due to transportation, luggage, wait times, standing lines and bumpy roads. This is for everyone who wants to have the happiest of holidays without letting their pain hold them back.

These are my top tips on how to make traveling with chronic pain easier, especially during the busy holiday season. I hope they help you. Happy holidays!

Things to Remember When Travelling with Chronic Pain

By car – Many people who suffer from chronic pain choose to travel by car more than any other form of transportation. Why? Traveling by car offers a certain level of control over the situation, allowing chronic pain sufferers to pull over and stop whenever is needed. This is especially helpful for those that find stretching or walking to be of use in lessening the pain. Additionally, the act of driving or of being in the car can greatly distract the person from their pain, at least for that time. Even if they are not driving, due to medication or other reasons, being a passenger in a car can also be nice as a form of distraction as well. If driving long distances, make sure to take plenty of stops along the way to get your circulation moving and stretch your limbs. Consider driving on smaller roads, if possible, so it is easier to pull over if need be.

By train – A few tips for traveling by train are to book seats in advance, that way you can choose what would be best for you. Maybe a window seat would best distract you, an aisle seat would be better for walking, or a seat near the exit and entrance would allow for easier on and off maneuvering. It’s best to think ahead.

By plane – Airports can be the worst for those with chronic pain. Not only is there a lot of standing in lines, but there is also luggage to carry and people to navigate around and move in and out of seats for. Some basic tips for traveling by plane are to pack as light as you can and use luggage which has wheels. Ideally, four wheels that swivel in any direction are best, as they are the easiest to direct. Make sure to pack extra medication for flare ups, but keep it all in the original boxes so TSA can see what is in each medicine. Also, for any liquids, make sure to place them in clear plastic bags. And no liquids over 100mL in your carry on!

By bus – Buses can be quite busy at any time, but especially so during the holidays. For inner-city buses, don’t be afraid to let people know that you’re suffering from chronic pain. It may be that someone would be very willing to give up their seat or move aside to let you sit in disabled seating, only they don’t realize the need. It can be very frustrating, but sometimes you need to let people know that yes, you’re suffering from chronic pain. Save energy by speaking up. If you’re traveling on a long-distance bus, consider getting inflatable pillows for both under you and also around your neck. Not only will you sleep better, but it’ll help keep your body insulated against bumpy roads as well.

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