Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Some helpful tips for travelling with a chronic illness: Research

Having a chronic illness can be incredibly isolating and it can often feel as though you are not able to lead a normal life. Just visiting family and friends or going to the shops is difficult enough. So it can seem impossible to get away on holiday, in your home country and abroad. Since I have been ill I have managed to get away abroad a few times. This year I thought that there was no way I'd get away due to my condition worsening but I'm very grateful that I did so. You can read about my experiences herehere and here. Whilst away on holiday I was speaking to a woman that had MS, her and her husband try to get away abroad as much as possible. They said that it is important for their wellbeing. I really admired their can do attitude.

By having these experiences I have been able to put together some tips that I hope will encourage others to get away. Most of them relate to travelling abroad but can also be applied to travelling anywhere. I have thought of so many things that I have decided to break the tips down into a few posts rather than one big long one. For my benefit as well as yours. Then I will put them all together on their own page, like my tips for shopping.

 A huge contributor to my getting away this year was that I knew where I was going and I have become friends with the owners of the hotel and restaurant so that took away any anxiety. Remember me telling you about having to cancel my holiday to Turkey because the location was not suitable. Wheelchairs and mountains don't mix very well, nor does needing to take a bus to get to eat every night and not an accessibe bus at that. Of course I did not know that I would be in a wheelchair when we booked but I even had I not needed one I think that I would have struggled with the location. So this brings me to today's tips, which is all about the value of research. Basically research, research, research. Find out as much as you can. Therefore when you get there you already feel reassured. It is a big thing for many people with chronic pain or illness to be able to get away, so comfort and knowledge is power. Below I have put together some tips to help people with chronic illnesses get away.

Research- This is always best before you book. Find out as much as possible about where you're going and staying. Tripadvisor www.tripadvisor.com is a fantastic resource for researching your resort and hotel. Read the reviews and forums about the resort. You can even ask questions if needed. The majority of resorts worldwide have their own forums, where you can find unbiased information from people that have actually been there. If you are in a wheelchair try to find out how accessible the resort is. Remember other countries have different or no policies about access for people with disabilities. Some things to consider are:

* Does the hotel have adapted rooms for guests with physical disabilities if you need one?

* Are the doors on the rooms wide enough to fit a wheelchair? If not would you be able to manage from the door inside?

* Is the hotel in a central location, close to restaurants etc or the beach? This means that you do not need to go too far to get to them and can easily get back to your hotel if you are feeling unwell or tired.

* Does your room have some cooking facilities incase you cannot get out to eat? Also a nearby shop from which to get ingredients.

* Does the hotel have a lift?

* How accessible are all the areas of the hotel? Are there ramps?

* What bathing facilities are there? Would you be able to get into a bath? Is the shower large enough for you to put a chair (plastic of course) under it?

* Does the hotel have a bar or nighttime entertainment? If so ask for a room away from those areas.

* Does the hotel have entertianment on during the day? Is there somewhere that you can avoid it if you want quiet time.

* What is the weather like there at that time of year? Can you cope with the heat, without it triggering or worsening any symptoms?

* If you are affected by the heat or do not want to be out in it constantly does the hotel have shaded areas where you can sit No one wants to be stuck in their room on holiday, unless they really need to.

* Consider asking for a room on the ground floor (if accessible to you) they are usually cooler, which may help you sleep better.

* Speak directly to the owners. Are they helpful? It can make a real difference knowing that you are going to stay somewhere where the owners are considerate of your needs and shown willing to help in whatever way they can.

To reiterate the more you know about where you're going and staying the better as it will take away some of the anxiety of how you are goin to cope in a strange place. I hope these tips have been useful. Hopefully it won't be too long a wait until the next installment.

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