Travel and Fibromyalgia

What I’ve Learned

Travelling as a person with fibromyalgia can present challenges.  You can overcome these challenges by maintaining a realistic approach to the travel experience itself.  That is, you have to be mindful to your body and the environment.

I have experienced a combined attack of costochondritis and hypotension while travelling on a US Airways flight–it wasn’t pretty and it was quite scary. I have also experienced really amazing, movie-watching pain-free/problem-free flights as well. You just have to learn from your experiences and how to take care.  Remember fibromyalgia is unique to the individual.

Below, I have listed some steps that I take to ensure a better travel experience and also some links to sites that offer more guidance on the subject. Hopefully, they will be helpful for you.

So, what to do before you leave?

  • Do Your Homework:  Of course, you may know your destination, but do you know how long it will take to get there?  Do you know the various methods of transportations that you will need to use?  Do you know if you will have any opportunity for a rest period? Do you know what resources are available for fibromyalgia care on the airplane itself or at your destination?  Do your homework!
  • Ask Questions: If you are like me, then what you eat (a.k.a. your diet) is really important.  I make sure to contact the airline to discuss having a special diet menu made for me.  On that note, I love Lufthansa and have had the best experience travelling with them in my 20+ years of travel–I’m thinking about writing a post about just how awesome travelling with Lufthansa has been.
  • Talk to Your Doctor: Perhaps this should have been first, but I am assuming that most of you do this regularly.  Check with your doctor about whether or not long travel will be okay for this moment, especially if it is air travel, where the is less flexibility in the amount that you are able to move.
  • Prepare Medications:  Going away for a weekend?  Make sure you have what you need or can get it easily.  Going away for a year?  Talk to your doctor, insurance company, and prepare medications for that length of stay.  Also, if there is the possibility that you might stay longer, pack for the longest possible duration rather than the shortest.  If you come across the situation (like I have), where you medication is not approved by your insurance company to be filled for your entire stay, find out where you can buy it at your destination.  Learn the generic names of your medication, because oftentimes brand names will not be available to you and you will have to go with a local brand…especially, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money.
  • Gauge the Fibro-Culture: Are you going some place where no one even knows what fibromyalgia is?  Well, then you are going to need to be more savvy as to how you explain your illness to others.  Perhaps you might be going somewhere where fibromyalgia is seen a mental illness (it can happen, trust me).  Then, you really need to think about if/how/where you explain your illness.  If your destination is already in the know, find out where you can receive treatment if necessary.  Contact the doctors beforehand if possible and look into the method of treatments suggested–it won’t work well if they are going to try to force on you a method that you know isn’t right for you.
  • Keep it Positive:  You’re going on a trip! It’s a wonderful thing and it’s great that you feel ready for that kind of adventure.  Try to think about the best possible outcomes rather than the worst.  When others come to you with doubts about your ability to travel, let them know that you are taking care of it and it will be fine.  Smile and let nothing and no one stop you.

 

So, those are my general suggestions.  Here are some articles that offer more specifics about how to manage your travel adventure!

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