Thursday, February 3, 2011

Decisions, Decisions- Traveling with a Chronic Illness

We (the hubbs and I) have a trip back to New England that is coming up fast.  Because it is more cost effective, we are driving.  Now- I have to say- we love road trips and travel very well together.  That is not true for everyone.  You may love your mate dearly but when it comes to a road trip, come back ready to kill one another.  I have seen it first hand and it's not pretty.  Fortunately- we dodged that bullet because we are both pretty easy drivers and passengers when it comes to road trips.  The funny thing is- we even agree on things as simple as must have snacks (Paremsan Goldfish!) and how often to stop (every two hours) and who will drive when.  That said- would it have cost less to fly and rent a car, we would have gone that route; it just happens that we will be driving back during Massachusetts "Spring Break" week for the public schools so the airfares home were ridiculous. 

Our decision now is which vehicle to take.  We don't have to worry about the pups- they are staying with their grandparents for the week, so that is not an issue.  We had intended to take my Soul.  We renewed the Sirius subscription, I am having an oil change tomorrow, she's big enough that honey, who is 6'4" has plenty of leg room,  she only has 7500 miles on her and gets better gas mileage so it seemed like a no-brainer.  Then this horrific winter storm hit.  My Soul has Front Wheel Drive and traction control- but his X-Terra is a four-wheel drive.  Four Wheel Drive would be far better for us- less worry of getting stuck, less worry of traction issues and it's a nice truck.  On the down side, it has 175k miles and gets about 6-10 less mpg than my Soul.  That is significant when you are driving over a thousand miles each way and gas is over $3.00 a gallon- just over a hundred dollars significant.  When I think about driving through New York State in a snowstorm though- it's far easier to see doing that in the X-Terra.  At the moment we are waiting to see what happens weather wise but if we decide that the weather will warrent his truck over mine- we then have to get an oil change for him and prep his vehicle for the trip which is already done on mine.   In about 5 days we can start watching the "10 day forecast" for that area and see what the weather will be during our visit and then the talks will begin. 

That decision aside, there are things we have to do to prepare to travel to account for my Rheumatoid Arthritis and Fibro issues.  We have done this trip before and last time we drove straight through- to say we learned some lessons is an understatement so I will share some of them with you here:

  1. You MUST stop and stretch.  We always stop every couple of hours but we have learned to stop for a longer period of time so that I can really stretch and move my joints and muscles. 
  2. It is very advisable to break up the trip.  Last time we drove the whole 17+ hours straight. Both ways.  I couldn't get out of bed for several days when we got back.   This time we will most likely drive 9 or so hours and then get a hotel for the evening and continue the rest of the trip rested and refreshed.  We know what chain we will be looking for and I have mapped out their locations along the way.  After dinner we will see where we are and I will contact the closest hotel to where we feel we will stop and go from there.  When it comes time to come home- we will do the same thing. 
  3. Take your pill bottles.  I feel like I will be taking an extra suitcase because I get 3mos worth of the pills at a time- but really?  It's worth the aggravation rather than us having an issue should we get stopped for any reason and me having a half ton of pain meds and muscle relaxers and no proof they are mine.  While a note from your Rheumy is possibly sufficient but the original pill bottles are undeniable proof.
  4. Travel doesn't have to throw your dietary habits out the window.  Though we will be eating most of our meals in restaurants so our choices will be better- we will be packing two small coolers (one for his soda and my water and one for food) and there will be food for both of us in there.  He will have his deli meat and sandwich bread, potato chips and whatnot and I will have prepared salad in a ziploc bag (so it doesn't take too much room) packages of tuna, jif-to-go, cut fruit and veggies and all the things I need to be able to eat healthfully while we are in the car.  Not only does it help me stick to my plan, but it's far less expensive than rest stop food.  When we get to our final destination, I will hit up a grocery store and get foods for our hotel room for breakfast and snacks.  I will also tuck a paring knife in out cooler so I can prep my fruit and veggies for the ride home. 
  5. Check out the amenities for your hotel before you go.  The hotel we are staying in at our destination is a basic chain hotel (great rate because of the wedding we are attending) but they have an indoor pool and jacuzzi as well as a fitness room.  Knowing this (and despite me loathing bathing suits in public) I will bring my suit along and plan on spending some time in the jacuzzi to work out the road kinks and most definitely my workout clothes and use the treadmill. 
  6. Make sure you schedule some down time.  It's often true what they say about needing a vacation from your vacation.  When you are traveling with a chronic illness it is imperative that you make time to rest.  If you just go-go-go trying to fit everything in and not rest you can cause a major setback for yourself.  In my case, the last time I caused a flare that really was not necessary.  This time I will rest when we get to the hotel, we will then go for our first visit and then most likely dinner and then back to do the jacuzzi and rest.  I will not push myself.  I am taking time for a little pampering- I have a hair appointment with my dear friend and long-time stylist.  A few people know we are coming and if we don't see everyone- it will be okay.  We will go to visit the family, the rest we will say "we will be at such and such place on Saturday, hope you can join us."  We are not pressuring ourselves to go here and there and everywhere.  We know that the wedding will be a long evening so I will be sure to work out that morning while hubby sleeps in and  nap a couple of hours before we have to go. 
  7. Most importantly- have fun.  Don't stress yourself out- go with the flow.  I used to be all about the details and while I have lists and lists for my lists- I know that in the end, it will work out so I am not allowing any of this to stress me. 
I hope that you all have wonderful vacations coming up this year and that you can use these tips to make your next vacation smooth sailing. 

1 comment:

Erla said...

I have to say these advise are excellent. I too often don't prepare for long car drive and end up sore for the next days. I will definitely look your post up for the next road trip.