The Challenges of Travel

Written by Keith Carlson, RN, BSN, NC-BC

When you have a chronic health condition, travel can present certain challenges. Whether it's diabetes, hypertension, chronic pain or an autoimmune disorder, traveling interrupts your routines and forces you out of your normal patterns of behavior. How do you prepare for, and confront, those challenges? 

Sleep and Rest

Sleeping and resting enough on vacation is sometimes very easy (think of a hotel on the beach with the sound of crashing waves), or it can be an enormous challenge (sleeping in your brother's living room on a lumpy sofa bed). Sure, these are very different travel scenarios, but both equally possible (and we've all probably been there, to some extent or another). 

If we have a health condition that necessitates rest, vacation can be blissful or it can be a nightmare. How we prepare and the choices that we make can really make or break the experience for us. 

Food

Vacations and travel can really throw us for a loop in terms of food, especially if we have very specific needs. Airports can be especially difficult (depending on where you are, of course), and making sure you stay within your dietary needs can also be a challenge. 

If you're in another country, there may be unfamiliar foods or strange allergens you've never encountered. If you're still within your own country, you may simply end up in a place where the food is very different from what you're used to. 

When on vacation or traveling, you may also find yourself "cheating" more regarding foods you usually avoid. We can feel a certain license to be expansive and indulgent on vacation, and this can have various consequences, both positive and negative. 

Consciousness around food is important, even when traveling. 

Self-Care Is Important

Some vacations are entirely geared towards self-care, like a week at a health resort, whereas others are filled with opportunities for overindulgence (a conference in Las Vegas comes to mind). 

How you choose to care for yourself during your travels is up to you. Just bear in mind that your health conditions come with you when you pack your bag, so take them into consideration before you leave, and when you arrive at your destination. 

Travel can be fun, and it can also be a challenge. Travel smart, eat smart, have fun, sleep well, and take care every step of the way.