Having an chronic illness has made this a really challenging thing to accomplish, although I'm coming to find that challenging doesn't have to mean entirely impossible.
I am not a well traveled person (yet!) but this summer, health permitting, I'm embarking on a few exciting trips! Leaving California for the first time in years and even traveling by airplane! I can count on my fingers the number of flights I've taken in my life, so this is an exciting one.
After many failed attempts and miserable "successes" in the last few years, I didn't know if I'd ever be confident enough to travel very far away with my condition, but thanks to several smaller getaways and a better general control of my pain at the moment, I think I've gained enough "know-how" to handle the tricky endo-situations that may present themselves while I'm away from home.
Considering past experiences, both good and bad, here are a few tips I'm sticking to while traveling this summer.
Hope they might help you feel more comfortable during your vacations too!
1) Bring everything you might need.
All medications, vitamins, heating pad and/or water bottle - everything that you ever use during a flare-up. Just in case. There are obviously things you can run to a store to get while you're out of town, but for me, during pain like that, I'm not able to shop, which means that I end up sending people out to the store for me. Once, I had to send two boys I was traveling with to the store for some good ol' fashioned feminine products because I was stuck in bed for a day. They never complained or said anything about it really, but needless to say, we all probably could have done without that experience, haha. Now I bring everything I could possibly need and keep the local stores as my backup plan should I accidentally forget anything.
edit :: I used Thermacare heating wraps on a train ride recently and they saved me!
From now on, I will never go on a trip without them!
2) Splurge on a comfortable room.
I wish I could be someone who has the "you're just sleeping there, who cares how nice it is?" mentality - but thanks to endo, I've got to be a little more particular. More than a few times, it has come in handy to have paid a little extra for a nice room. In the event of being stuck at the hotel you'll want a comfortable bed, a clean shower/bath, and a room with cable or WiFi can help keep you entertained if you're stuck in bed. I've also heard of people who pay for a room with a view so they can enjoy the atmosphere of the place they are staying without leaving the hotel, but for me that hasn't ever been a huge necessity. I just want to be comfortable.
3) Carefully consider who you travel with.
Hopefully, you will make it through your trip without a flare-up, but if one happens, you are likely going to disrupt the trip for everyone on some level. For me, flare-ups are a very personal thing. I don't even like my closest girlfriends to see me in that condition and unless I had my own hotel room during a trip, there would be nowhere for me to have privacy during that pain. Not to mention the possibility of having to come home in an emergency. Weston and I once drove out to Vegas for a weekend. We made it there, endo hit me hard, and we ended up leaving a few hours later, in the middle of the night, to drive the 4 hours back home. Obviously it was an inconvenient situation, but luckily, Weston was extremely understanding and willing to bring me back home, cutting his vacation short. On a trip with 5 girlfriends, I definitely wouldn't want to put them in the position of having to cancel anything because of me. The people you are traveling with are the people you will be relying on (and possibly inconveniencing) during your trip if anything happens. Make sure your travel buddies are people you feel comfortable with, who understand your condition, and who will be willing to help you if you need them.
4) Start locally.
After a really traumatic 6 hour flight (read : flare-up/black-out/panic attack) a few years ago, I hesitated to go far from home. The Vegas adventure didn't do much for my traveling confidence, so I started planning more local getaways. LA, Palm Springs, and San Diego - all only about an hour or two away from home and my doctors. These were all positive experiences that gave me the satisfaction of getting away for a weekend, without too much of a risk factor if anything went wrong. Now, thanks to several of these trips, I feel like I have the confidence and the know-how to go a little further from home. Hopefully every time will get easier!
5) Check the hotel's refund policy.
I learned my lesson last December when Weston and I had to cancel our road trip to San Francisco and Yosemite and neither of our hotels would refund us at all. We tried to find anyone else who wanted to stay in the room - even for free, just so we felt like we hadn't spent all that money in vain, but with no takers to speak of, the rooms stayed vacant. Now I am always careful to check the cancellation/refund policy at the places we stay and weigh the risk before booking.
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Weston and I made the drive up to Big Sur this past weekend and even in spite of the endo pain that happened while I was there, thanks to a lot of these tricks, we weren't super inconvenienced and had a really amazing time. Can't wait to share those pictures soon!
Do you endo-girls have any travel tips that you stick to?
Has endometriosis prevented you from getting far from home??
I'd love to make it to next year's Endo March in DC, but going all the way across the country still scares me a little! Maybe these next few plane rides will get me pumped up enough for it.
Hope you're all feeling well! Keep on fightin' like a girl! ;)