Friday, 18 April 2014

Some useful tips for travelling with a chronic illness: pre-packing

Most of us know (possibly mostly women more than men although I do know a few exceptions) that packing to go on holiday is never as simple as just throwing some clothes in a suitcase. It might be on the way back, as well as carefully wrapping those duty free purchases in your beach towels. But packing to go on holiday can be a complex operation that could take weeks of planning. Especially if you are packing on behalf of your family too. So much so that I've had to split this post into a few sections. Today's tips and advice are all about the pre-packing/ planning stage. Where the key aim is to to leave as little as possible to do in the week before going away, when resting needs to take precedence.

Pre-packing/ Planning:

I know many people have Summer and Winter wardrobes so the first step is to get the wardrobe that you need accessible (taken down from the attic etc). Put any new holiday purchases (come on I know you have done) with them too or on the end of the rail so easy to locate and see what you have. Use up all your research to decide what you will need to take. Do you already have it? Or do you need to purchase some things? Factor in any changes in weight that may have occurred due to illness, try things on when possible. Try and purchase things asap. Also use internet shopping where possible to save those spoons. You can purchase virtually anything online nowadays from clothes to insect repellent, so use it.

If you have researched well (click the link to my tips on researching a holiday) you will have a good idea of what to take. 

Always write a list and keep it and a pen handy for when you suddenly think of an item to add to it. We can all suffer from brain fog, chronic illness or not.

When writing your list think about:

 All the things that you use to get you through the day, especially a bad day. Things that you have come to rely on to help you cope. For example essential oils, a tens machine, hot water bottle (mine goes everywhere with me, yes even to Greece) or ice packs. You may be on holiday but your symptoms won't be. So give these items priority. Consider packing them all together in a bag so they are easy to access, with any essential oils wrapped separately in case of leaking.

Think about the types of activities you are going to do on holiday and pack items accordingly. Remember to bear in mind any cultural/ religious beliefs of the country you are visiting, and pack appropriate cover ups. Do you need to dress up formally for dinner? Or do you like to? May as well seen as we get such little opportunity to do so.

Importantly always pack for the weather. If it's hot always take a hat. Burning the top of your head can make you very ill. It's also a great way to keep the sun out of your eyes.

Think about what the hotel provides; Hairdryers etc. Or whether in a hot country you are likely to still want to blow dry your hair. Regarding hairdryers and straighteners etc, be careful of voltage conversions and pack adaptors. Don't blow up your expensive straighteners.

Ladies think about leaving the heels at home, unless they are expected as formal wear. They can take up room in your case, and most of that space is already taken by your spoonie survival kit. If you are in a wheelchair also consider that some places may not be as accessible and you may need to step out of it more often.

What your usual holiday habits are? Do you usually not take toiletries with you and buy them there, etc? Or pack some staple foods with you. You may wish to consider packing toiletries if you don't usually in case you are not up to going and purchasing them when you arrive due to the strain of the travelling. 

Anyone with special dietary requirements may also want to pack some snacks etc as they may be difficult to source.

Consider how your body temperature changes sporadically and take items to suit this, cover ups, extra pyjamas for night sweats etc. I know that my feet and lower legs in particular can get very cold, so socks and long pyjama bottoms are my preference.

If you have lots to pack due to illness try to be economical where you can. A capsule wardrobe perhaps or plenty of mix and match items.

Wash any clothes/ towels that you want to take weeks in advance to pace yourself where possible. When you're normally in pyjamas not having to wash clothes last minute can come in handy but it also works with work clothes or just different climates. 

Put all items together and tick them off the list. I saw a great tip on Pinterest about putting the items you want to pack in a laundry basket or a box that could be put under the bed (unless it's a divan) and putting a list of what still needs to go in there on the top. The tip came from a woman who had pets that got anxious every time they saw a suitcase, not wanting to be left. If you want to use your case though to save a spoon then of course do so.

Also think about all the other last minute things (but for you need to not be last minute, but carefully paced) you will need to do and make a list, so not to forget. Giving family a copy of your flight or contact details, bills that need paying before you go away, telling your bank that you are abroad so that they do not block your card thinking it has been stolen. Checking your mobile will work abroad. Making photocopies of documents such as passports. Giving a spare key to someone that might be keeping an eye on your house/ pets. And other housework actvities like emptying the bins, and clearing the fridge. 

Next in the series I will be talking packing. 

Again your tips are welcome and I hope you have found these tips helpful.


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