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5 Tips for Traveling with a Chronic Illness, Pregnancy or BOTH!

pregnancy travelling tips Aug 13, 2021
travelling with a chronic illness

As my family gears up for what will likely be our last big trip for some time AND our last chance for a babymoon, I wanted to share 5 tips for traveling.

This is our first trip in about 2 years and my first while pregnant and while under treatment for a chronic illness.

Traveling with kiddos, while pregnant or with a chronic illness on their own can be tricky so here are 5 strategies that may make your trip less stressful while dealing with any or all of these scenarios! 

 

1. Touch base with your care team during the planning process. 

Touching base with your doctors before you book can be really helpful. Depending on your health, they may have suggestions on safer locations, better timing for travel or other specific recommendations. 

For instance, in pregnancy- the second trimester is typically recommended. My Ob also made me promise to wear thigh high compression stockings on our upcoming flight. Consider how difficult it may be to seek emergency care while enroute or while at your destination. For some more exotic locales, you may consider buying a specific trip insurance policy that provides additional coverage should you need to be flown to safety. If you have an immune deficiency or are pregnant, I would recommend visiting the CDC websites travel section (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-planner/index.html) for additional helpful tips.

 

2. Packing is always a chore but making a list and checking it twice is extra important when traveling with health considerations. 

In addition to considering what your are going to wear, you also need to consider medications & supplies, their storage requirements and any extra documentation you may need to bring with you. For prescription medications, I suggest packing the original bottles with the labels especially if traveling internationally. For medications that require refrigeration, pack a few ziptop bags with ice in an insulated tote. You can drain the melted water as needed and refill for free at the food court or Starbucks. Given the increased number of flight cancellations, I would also consider packing at least a few extra days worth of medication. I also strongly suggest packing a list of your doctors and their office contact information, a summary of your medications, dosages, and a list of your diagnoses in case of emergency. This can be electronic or printed.

 

3. Planes, trains and automobiles: consider how you are getting to your destination. 

When it comes to flights, we have typically always looked for the best deals. With changes over recent years this may not be your best option, especially if like me, you are looking for an aisle seat to provide easier bathroom access and better ability to get your blood pumping a bit to avoid blood clots. Also consider checking your heavier luggage, while ensuring your medical supplies, devices and medicines are kept with you at all times. We have loved flying Southwest when able since the ticket includes the cost of checking luggage and families are allowed to board early enough to ensure we can typically find a row towards the back that includes an open aisle seat. For a longer road trip, you may look into renting a more spacious or comfortable vehicle. For our last 8 hour trek back to Illinois, we rented a minivan and realized just how much more space it provided all of us than our current vehicles.  This also gave us a chance to try out something new before buying.  

 

4. Stay rested, hydrated & nourished! 

Pack travel friendly snacks, a refillable water bottle and stretch, rest and move as you are best able! I love packing a combination of nutritious and special treat options including cut up apples, cheese sticks, nuts and a junk food type treat that Aki and I associate with traveling- most often messy mini powdered sugar donuts. I have yet to find a decent travel pillow worth the annoyance of carrying it along with everything else so I typically will pack an extra sweater or hoodie to layer up and use as a pillow and/or blanket. I also love using a few exercise related apps to keep a bit of a routine with my movement. 

 

5. Lower those expectations a bit. 

I learned this more from traveling as a parent but I think it holds true for chronic illness travel too. Keeping expectations low provides a little insurance that I won’t be disappointed. It is a bit of a mindset hack. I pick a couple activities that are must do, a few that you would like to do if up for it, and purposefully plan for rest. Keep the Spoon Theory in mind. Remember, we only have so many spoons and you may have used a few extra in the planning, packing, and traveling process. On top of all of that, you may be dealing with some jet lag too!  For this trip, our must do activities are beach time and family pictures. I scheduled the photos for later in the week to give us more time to deal with the time zone differences. My husband and I also have an agreement to give each other a break for a few hours during the week away too whether it's for a much needed nap, trip to the spa or solo activity. 

 

What travel tricks or tips have you discovered on your trips? 

 

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