The last few years I've shared with you some of my travel experiences and even compiled a whole series of blogposts full of tips and advice on how to cope with going on holiday as a chronically ill person. To read a round up as well as links to each detailed post from the series click here. With advice from researching and planning your holiday so that it tailors to your needs to surviving the airport and plane journey. However the only holidays (besides a weekend a few hours by car) I have been on since being poorly have all been beach type holidays (although I never actually went to the beach once) and have all been to the same place. Sometimes to the point of the exact same room. Familiarity and knowing you'll be comfortable there is something that I have stressed in my research and planning posts because it really is important. And for that reason as well as finding a place that feels like a second home were we are treated like family we haven't strayed from it. Of course this too was new at one point, but back then I was right at the beginning of my diagnosis and able to do a lot more. My parents had a holiday booked and I really didn't think I could cope on my own at home whilst they were away and so I ended up going too. Turns out it was a good call. Also I understand that for you, if you have not been on holiday as a chronically ill person before then familiarity is not something you'll get straight away. However my tips teach you that by doing your research and getting to know as many details as you possibly can, when you get there you already feel you know the place to some extent. Perhaps even before you book. Only book when you are 100% in your choice of hotel, resort and flights and you get a sense of that is a place where you can relax and have a good time.
Due to me only going on the same sort of holiday and to the same place the majority of my tips so far have mainly been orientated around beach/ Summer holidays, based on my experiences. Although many of them can still be applied to your holiday of choice. At the beginning of the year an opportunity arose to break those boundaries and step away from the familiar. Some members of my family moved temporarily from the UK to Brussels in Belgium and as I knew I would miss them like crazy (they have twins that were 4 months at the time) I started to think about going to visit them.
I love city breaks. When I was healthy I used to love going somewhere that had so much to do and see. I was not really a fan of beach holidays and sunbathing for hours on end, feeling quite bored and like I wanted to be doing something. However of course that really does not comply with the chronic illness lifestyle and so I learnt to love beach holidays. I'll be honest it wasn't hard. When you're already used to lying around all day, able to do very little, getting to do that in glorious sunshine, where they understand the need for a siesta, is an upgrade. In fact the heat and mediterranean air made me feel much better, correcting my sleep pattern and reducing my pain levels, so that was a nice bonus. You can read about my holiday experiences here, here and here.
Therefore going back to try cope with a city break was one that felt rather outside my comfort zone. Or my 'I'm a sick person I'm not sure I can cope with that' zone. Such a party pooper. Of course despite being chronically ill I'm still me, and with that there is still that love of cities. Therefore you can see my conundrum. I understand that this city break was a little different with me going to visit family and yes that did make the decision to go much easier, indeed without them moving there I doubt the opportunity would have arose. However it still came with a host of new challenges. One of which being that we didn't actually stay with them in their apartment. As you can imagine a spoonie living in a small space with 2 4 month olds may prove difficult. Also I needed to make sure I had the equipment that I needed to be able to wash etc.
Them living there certainly did make me think about how I could at least try and test the waters. Here, was a chance for me to experience something new and exciting. I had told myself at the start of the year that I wanted to experience as much as I could if I could do so and here was a great opportunity to do just that. I want to be as happy as I can possibly be. At the end of the year I want to look back through my memory jar and scrapbook and be reminded of all the great memories that I have despite the majority of my time being spent in pain and bedbound. They're already looking quite impressive, which is such a joy. However in order to make this experience possible and less imposing I needed to tailor it as much to my needs as possible and be armed with all my coping techniques. This included things like:
Finding the right hotel that catered for disabled guests, was close to were my family lived and was in a relatively quiet area. Also a hotel that did room service just in case I was too ill to leave the room. This is were Google maps and Trip Advisor were really helpful
Practical flight times
Booking special assistance
Being picked up when we got there and taken to our hotel
In grasping this opportunity not only have I made some priceless memories but along the way I have picked up some tips and advise for coping with a city break as a chronically ill person, which I can share with you. In my next post I am going to share a bit more about the trip and how I coped. Then I will do a separate post of tips and I also have a funny post that I've been trying to get done for a while now in relation to the trip.
Hopefully be back soon. If you can think of any tips you would like to know regarding travelling with a chronic illness please leave a comment.