5 Essential Wellness Tips for Traveling with a Chronic Illness

Despite having an often disabling autoimmune disease and a chronic allergy to pollen, I’ve still semi-nomadically solo traveled around the world for the last three years. From the camping in a ger tent in the Gobi desert of Mongolia to hiking up the tallest peak in the Caribbean, I’ve traveled, experienced, and achieve personal and physical goals beyond my imagination while managing my chronic illnesses. It hasn’t always been easy. There have been many times where I’ve passed up on an adventure or had to recognize a limit that just could not be pushed and was reminded to slow down or change course. 

My autoimmune disease at times causes chronic inflammation, painful joint immobility, chronic fatigue, stomach issues, and many other unpredictable symptoms. And my chronic pollen allergies sometimes force me indoors for days, fearful of the grass and trees around me while my chest burns as my asthma flairs up and a faucet of itchy water comes out of my nose and eyes. So I take my health very seriously both at home and while I travel. And especially because if I don’t prioritize my wellness and take care of my health well then… I can’t travel!

Here are 5 essential ways I take care of myself so that I can still travel despite my disabilities.

1. Taking My Medicine

When traveling around the world, you may not have access to the same doctors or pharmacies from home. So I make sure to pack my medicine, from everyday supplements to daily prescriptions to emergency medication. It’s important to explain to your doctor that you’ll be away for a longer period of time and to prescribe X months worth of that medication. You can’t always find the medicine you need abroad, so this is a critically important step before leaving your home country. Adherence to medication is a very important facet of my health whether I travel or not. Walgreens currently has a PSA for drug adherence which is very important to me because my health and wellness are one of my top everyday priorities. If you are interested in scheduling a better way to fill your prescriptions, check out the Walgreens app

2.  Resting: Taking Breaks & Getting Enough Sleep

Resting is critical for travel + wellness. Both mentally and physically. When you travel a lot you’re often constantly moving and meeting new people. On top of that, you’re also absorbing new experiences, environments, and other new stimulants that while amazing can still exhaust you. So among many things, I make sure to take me-time to mentally recharge even if that means traveling more slowly.

But most importantly I am strongly committed to getting 8 to 9 hours of sleep, minimum per day. Of course, there are days where you have a crazy flight or an early excursion or the time change messes up your sleep pattern. But I prioritize resting up as soon as I can! This is pivotal.

PS: Massages and spa retreats can be much more affordable in many other countries around the world. Remember to schedule a few of these treat-cho-self days during your travels– they can make a world of a difference!

3. Eating Right

Remember to watch what you eat! Sounds easier said than done, I know. It’s not always easy to adhere to food restrictions and healthy eating while globetrotting. In some parts of the world, choosing what you want to eat is a luxury. So sometimes you find yourself having to settle for the dish that’s available due to scarcity. For this, I always make sure to pack emergency snack bars and healthier/non-inflammatory food alternatives in my luggage just in case. Especially for long tours or big hikes. Otherwise, I always try to eat healthy on the road by popping into supermarkets, cooking my own food at Airbnbs, and stopping by local markets to stock up on fruits and veggies!

4. Embracing Fitness

This one can be trickier as a traveler. Fitness, when done carefully around my disabilities, drastically improves my mental and physical well-being. However, when traveling it’s sometimes hard to sign up for a gym and start a routine. That’s when popping into fitness studios for classes such as pilates or yoga come into place! They’re a great way to immerse yourself in the local everyday scene while getting a good work out and not having to sign up for a long term gym membership. If fitness classes are not available, I love to go on outdoor excursions such as hiking, horseback riding, and swimming. Depending on where you are, you may be able to take unique lessons such as surfing or flamenco dancing which can be really fun ways to get some movement and exercise into your body. 

5. Slowly Traveling & Respecting My Limits

Zooming from one destination to the next and checking items off my bucket list as I moved through different destinations was one of my favorite ways to travel. *Snap* I’d often take a photo and happily carry on to the next attraction. At 19, it was perfect. But as I got older and began to appreciate the details between places, the different histories, and especially the cultural insights, I realized the value in forgoing half of my bucket list items to see less and slowing down to savor more.

Today, slow travel has helped me curtail travel burnout, autoimmune flair ups, and getting sick while on the road. It’s also proven to be more economical which in the end allows me to keep traveling more.

It’s easy to cave into FOMO and to try to see everything. But a few years ago, I realized that it is better to see some things and feel healthy than see a lot of things and then crash. 

This post was sponsored by Walgreens. All opinions are my own.

 

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