If you followed Part 1 of this story, you’ll have seen some of the difficulties people encounter when travelling with a chronic condition.

For me, as mentioned previously, I have two chronic illnesses, both auto-immune disorders, which affect me sporadically. I can be fine for weeks, even months and then have flare ups. Sometimes travel itself can bring on a flare up, sometimes stress, other times it can be food related, and sometimes they just pop their ugly heads up just for fun!

One of my conditions is Hashimotos and the other is Crohn’s Disease. I explain them a bit more in Part 1 of this piece but here’s another way of describing Crohn’s Disease. You know the movie Alien, right? Well that famous “chestbuster” scene was inspired by writer, Dan O’Bannon’s Crohn’s disease. He described the feeling of Crohn’s as if there was something bubbling inside of him struggling to get out.  

How to travel with a chronic illness

But travelling is a huge part of my life and I wouldn’t be me if I let things get in the way of my adventures, so I have learned to adapt. And as such, travelling with a chronic condition has become a lot more manageable.

A lot of planning goes into choosing where I go, will I be able to eat the food, can I stay somewhere that’s comfortable, will my accommodation be close to activities so I can head back for a nap easily when the dreaded fatigue hits all of a sudden, etc. That might not sound like a very exciting holiday to you, but my epic Bucket List proves otherwise! I still get everything I want to do done. That’s where all my OCD planning comes in handy!

In Part 1, I spoke with three bloggers about how they cope while travelling with a chronic condition – you can read their interviews here.  Below, three more travel junkies give their input into what it’s like travelling with a chronic condition.

Tam & Lauren from Our Adventures 2

1. Can you describe a little about you and the condition you suffer from & how long you have had this condition?

We are sisters, Tam 29 and Lauren 26, who have also travelled together but decided to start up our own YouTube Channel, so we could look back on memories of our trips, Lauren was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia back in 2018 after going through years of testing for numerous other conditions which all come back negative, Lauren can also suffer with certain noises and bright lights day-to-day, and although can suffer with joint pain, the main symptom for Lauren is extreme fatigue. 

Tam, has always battled with over whelming fatigue, non-restorative sleep and joint pain since leaving school, after many trips to the doctors and not really getting anyway she found a doctor who would listen and referred her to the Chronic Fatigue service and was then diagnosed with Fibro in early 2019, we cannot remember a time of ever feeling ‘normal’ or ‘refreshed’ after sleep, but cannot find a link to when the condition may have started. 

2. Does this condition affect you travelling and, if so, how?

When our fatigue is at its worse we have no energy to walk long distances or wait in queues, we can also struggle with bright lights and busy places with lots of noises when on downward crash so we need to bear this in mind.

Lauren & Tam

3. What, if any, adjustments do you need to make when travelling?

We have adapted our travels a huge amount and are still learning, we always ensure trips are fully planned via an itinerary with timings on each item. We always leave at least an hour for lunch and this gives us the option to return to the hotel to rest if required, we always return to the hotel by 8pm on an evening to again rest, and have an early night if we require it. We often book extra time off work to recover as we often “crash” after a holiday and again knowing this is very helpful. We also have a sunflower lanyard which is slowly being rolled out across all airports in the UK and transport service which is a service for those with a hidden disability like us, it means if we are struggling too much one day we can ask for more help at the airport by boarding the plane early and being fast tracked through security and passport control and we don’t have to wait in long queue which drains our energy.

4. What’s your top tip for anyone with a chronic illness / your specific illness who wants to travel?

Do it! Don’t miss out on opportunities, pace yourself and more importantly plan in spare time to rest if required.

We are two Sisters from the UK who are living with Fibro but love to Travel. Full-Time Workers / Part Time Travellers. Follow our next adventures via social media!

YouTube: @OurAdventures2, Twitter: @OurAdventures2, Facebook: @OurAdventures2, Instagram: @OurAdventures2

Emma from Invincible Woman On Wheels

Emma Invincible Woman On Wheels

1. Can you describe a little about you and the condition you suffer from & how long you have had this condition?

I’m Emma, a 23-year-old Masters student currently living in Birmingham. I’m also a  wheelchair user with cerebral palsy, which is a lifelong neurological condition which I’ve had from birth.

2. Does this condition affect you travelling and, if so, how?

Being a Wheelchair user means I  need wheelchair accessible accommodation as standard. I also means I need extra help or assistance, particularly with boarding aircraft or trains..

3. What, if any, adjustments do you need to make when travelling?

I can’t visit some locations due to their inaccessibility or may have to at least postpone travelling somewhere until I know how I can make it more accessible to me. I also have to factor in a lot of extra time when travelling, particularly on trains and such, as there are procedures which have to be followed for the assistance which can add extra time to the journey. I also have to do more research on a location than some people may do as I need to know about its accessibility, this is also more research than I’d like to have to do as I’d like to be more spontaneous with my trips, but that isn’t really feasible as a disabled person.

Emma Invincible Woman

4. What’s your top tip for anyone with a chronic illness / your specific illness who wants to travel?

My top tip would be to just start with a small trip, maybe taking a train to somewhere in your local area. The likelihood is that the way you’re building the experience of travelling as a disabled person up in your head, and likely thinking of all the things that could go wrong, is probably building it up to be worse than the actual experience will be.

I’m Emma Dobson, I’m 23 years old and have cerebral palsy and am a wheelchair user. I’m just showing the world that conquering the world on wheels is possible and exactly how I do it!

Check out Emma’s wonderful blog – Invincible Woman On Wheels and follow her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

Kirstin from Let’s Go Somewhere Else

Kirstin Let's Go Somewhere Else

1. Can you describe a little about you and the condition you suffer from & how long you have had this condition?

Hi Ellie and her readers! My name is Kirstin and I am a travel writer over at Let’s Go Somewhere Else. I suffer from IBS – A. IBS stands for Irritable Bowel Syndrome and it is estimated around 10-15% of the adult population have it, yet as little as 5% have been officially diagnosed.

There are generally 3 types of IBS, which is IBS – A (alternate) IBS – C (constipation) and IBS – D (diarrhea). I’ve had this for a really long time, so long that I do not remember. My main symptoms are usually extreme stomach aches and fatigue. Sometimes these can go on for days and include other symptoms, such as nausea.

I’m also limited in what I can eat, I have trigger foods which are the most random thing and do not make sense at all! I cannot drink full fat coke or eat Cherry Bakewells (for non UK readers, this is a mini cake!) I also cannot eat cream cheese but I am ok with Ice cream!

Admittedly, it is quite difficult to get officially diagnosed in the UK, I’ve gone to the doctors after a week of stomach aches (several times) and got “oo, sounds like IBS!” haha. However, if you think you might have it, there is a little thing called a “FODMAP diet” and it tells you what you can and can’t eat and you can get right to the bottom of your stomach ache!

2. Does this condition affect you travelling and, if so, how?

Yes definitely! Stress is also a trigger of IBS and I must say, I am a nervous flier through and through! I also do not want to be that person who has a poo in the plane toilet either! Haha. I have to be cautious when eating out in a different country, any food can trigger this or what might not upset “normal” stomach’s, might upset mine!

Kirstin Let's Go Somewhere Else

3. What, if any, adjustments do you need to make when travelling

I do typically make some adjustments when travelling. I always carry Imodium or Buscopan, as well as a miniature hot water bottle. I also stick to eating regular meals and avoid street foods if possible. Something I like to do before I leave the hotel/hostel, is to research any public toilets around the area that I am heading to. In Europe, I always carry extra 50c and when in Central London I carry 20ps and 10ps! 

4. What’s your top tip for anyone with a chronic illness / your specific illness who wants to travel?

I know some people have a fear of travelling when you have IBS, but if it’s manageable in your day to day life, you can manage it on the road! Research where you’re heading and come prepared. I also have a card, which I brought from the Bladder and Bowel community online for £3, which says “Help! This person has a condition and they need to use the toilet immediately”. I’ve used this a few times and people have been really accommodating.

My name is Kirstin, I’m a 28 year old solo traveller who knows what it’s like to want to travel so much but not have the time. Let’s Go Somewhere Else covers destinations on a budget, within work holiday allowance and while you have a 9-5! I also cover Hotel and Restaurant reviews, journal tips and much more! If you want to contact me: KD@LetsGoSomewhereElse.co.uk

Follow Kirstin on Instagram, Twitter and check out her fabulous blog Let’s Go Somewhere Else!

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So, while travelling with a chronic condition can be sometimes difficult and adjustments need to be made, these inspiring people show us that anybody can do it if you put your mind to it and plan ahead.

If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can check it out here.

Do you have a chronic condition that you need to take into consideration before travelling? Let me know in the comments!

Ellie-M

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3 Comments

  1. As someone who as a chronic illness (Cystic Fibrosis) , I know and understand how incredibly hard it is to travel anywhere, even if it’s just in the UK! I’m always worried I’m going to forget to bring one of my meds and I always have to triple check my suitcase before I leave! A great post! x

    1. Thanks Lucy! A tip is to have a generic checklist for any time you travel which includes your meds and things you will always be likely to need (i.e. for me a hot water bottle). That helps me not forget 🙂

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