How to plan a holiday with a chronic illness

I’ve been on 3 holidays since my health got to a point where I need assistance and I’ve learnt lessons from each one so here’s what I’ve figured out.

1 – Pick your mode of transport carefully, there are issues with all so figure out what’s best for you. I really didn’t like flying with assistance and would prefer to be with someone next time I do it. It was a struggle and I was miserable so would be more fun and easier with someone with me. Being driven is good if the car is comfy and you get on with the people you’re travelling with, enjoy shared music or can wear headphones. Having kids with you makes it more tiring as they need to be kept entertained and being in charge of breaks is essential so take everything into account. Trains are ok if you’re in first class with comfy seats and service, but again come the issues of getting to and from the station and needing assistance which I haven’t experienced personally, but I think I’d prefer to have someone with me to keep away the grumpiness and help out. Driving yourself is exhausting, but if you’re like me then having time to yourself is great. On this trip I listened to an audio book, stopped whenever I wanted and cut up the journey by staying overnight halfway through the trip. Downsides are a small car and pain and exhaustion from the driving but this is my favourite option as I’m not a fan of public transport and I like being straight on my way instead of having to get somewhere before I can get started on my journey, cutting down on travelling time and general stress.

2 – THOROUGHLY research your hotel/apartment/villa/resort. This is vital. I’ve made many mistakes by not using the same precautions that I do in daily life when I’m going away….ooohhh that looks pretty….really isn’t enough. I have more need now. I need parking right outside the hotel, a room close to reception or what I’m going to be doing, an adapted bathroom, a hotel that isn’t too big or has loads of steps so that I can walk around without getting exhausted, decent food with serving times that suit me, excellent customer service as I ask for weird things, decaf coffee and tea, free wifi, comfy seats and things to do nearby that are equally accessible. I’ve ended up crying before as I couldn’t manage to get round the place I was staying and I get grumpy when I have to walk further than I can without it having a negative impact so make sure you write a list of exactly what you need and tick off essentials, or make a nice chart when you’re looking at places to stay. Forgetting things or getting carried away by a beautiful building and a spa can mean a really bad or challenging holiday.

3 – Plan some things to do. I always take loads of books away with me as I tend to read one a day sitting happily in the sunshine, but a massage or something similar can be an excellent start to a holiday. If I’m in the U.K. I’ll make sure I can get to a cinema easily as it relaxes me. So figure out which of your self-care essentials you can do on holiday and plan them loosely in. Researching a good local restaurant or something to visit will give you something to plan around and look extra forward to but make sure you don’t book in too much and keep it all flexible so you can cancel and swap things about depending on how you’re feeling. I try to just tone down my usual pacing plan and fit in more resting and relaxing activities so that I feel like I’ve done something, but I’m also refreshed and feel like I’ve been on holiday.

4 – Get in touch with your Hotel/apartment/villa before you book or at least before you leave to confirm everything about the room and your necessary requirements. I always have to check that I can put some meds in a fridge and that there’s decaf tea and coffee or I’ll take my own. For your non negotiables get in touch before your trip and make sure they’re all organised for you. If you’re staying with friends and family take as much of your own essentials as you can so they don’t have to do loads for you, make life easy for them and always take gifts or take people out for food to say thank you. Staying with other people can be a brilliant way of seeing friends and family that live far away as well as giving you a cheap break so take advantage of those offers to go and stay.

5 – Use a travel agent to search and book for you. This can get you some great deals as well as taking all the stress and time away from you researching and booking everything. If you enjoy searching for places to stay and ways to get there then ignore this piece of advice, apart from using them to get good deals or ideas that could be hidden gems, but I find it exhausting. There’s too many websites, too many options and too much to think about, so if I can get someone to do all of that for me and come up with some options to pick from then I’m in!

If in doubt always ask for help, tips and advice from people you trust and then have a great holiday!

Vic xx

P.S. Make sure you have enough medication to last until you get home!

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