Greetings Fellow Travelers!
Throughout my life, I have visited over a dozen countries and have lived in four. Since 2011, I have called Rome my home.
Whether it is before, during or after, being sick while traveling, especially on vacation, is simply…awful.
As a traveler living abroad with a chronic illness (fibromyalgia), I know just how awful it can truly get: forgotten medication, limited specialized medical services, ignorant doctors, etc. You name, and I’ve probably experienced it.
Still, such occurrences are not the end of the world. Furthermore, having an illness, chronic or not, does not mean having to stifle your inner nomad or cure your wanderlust.
Yes, there are and will be challenges. However, you can overcome these challenges by maintaining a realistic approach to the travel experience itself. That is, you have to be mindful to your body and your new environment.
Below are some of steps I have taken to ensure a better travel experience and also some links to sites that offer more guidance on the subject. Hopefully, they will be helpful for you as you prepare for your visit to Italy’s Eternal City or wherever else your feet may choose to wander.
My 6-Step Know Before You Go Approach
- Do Your Homework: Of course, you may know your destination, but do you know how long it will take to get there? Do you know the various methods of transportations that you will need to use? Do you know if you will have any opportunity for a rest period? Do you know what resources are available for your illness on the airplane itself or at your destination? Do your homework!
- Ask Questions: If you are like me, then what you eat is really important for illness. I make sure to contact the airline to discuss having a special diet menu made for me. Lufthansa, for example, offers extensive services in this regard.
- Talk to Your Doctor: Check with your doctor about whether or not long travel will be okay for this moment, especially air travel.
- Prepare Medications: Going away for a weekend or a year? Talk to your doctor, insurance company, and prepare medications for that length of stay. Also, pack for the longest possible duration rather than the shortest. If your medication is not filled for your entire stay, find out where you can buy it at your destination. Learn the generic names of your medications, because brand names may be unavailable to you and you will have purchase a local brand.
- Gauge the Medical Culture: Are you going someplace where the likelihood of your illness being known is limited? Well, then you are going to need to know how to explain your illness, e.g. prepare a translated document. If this is not a concern, find out where you can receive treatment if necessary. Contact foreign doctors beforehand if possible and look into the method of treatments suggested for compatibility with your current treatment.
- Keep it Positive: You’re going on a trip! It’s a wonderful thing and it’s great that you feel ready for that kind of adventure. Try to think about the best possible outcomes rather than the worst. If others have doubts about your travel preparations, let them know that you are taking care of it. Smile and let nothing and no one stop you!
Here are some links that may offer more specifics about how to safely manage your travel adventure!
- Australian Prescriber: “Health Advice for Travellers with Chronic Illness”
- But You Don’t Look Sick: “Tips for Traveling with a Chronic Illness”
- Center for Disease Control: “Travelers with Chronic Illness”
- Center for Disease Control: “Your Survival Guide to Safe and Healthy Travel”
- Chronic Illness Alliance: “Travel Insurance”
- Everyday Health: All Health-related Articles
- MIA Travel Insurance: Insurance for Chronic Illness, People with Pre-existing Illnesses
- Passport Health USA: “Traveling Abroad with a Chronic Illness? Consider This!”
- Prevention.com: “Destination: Health”
- Travel & Leisure: “Tips for Healthy Travel”
Wishing You Healthy Travel!
P.S. Thinking about taking guided tours? Make sure to find out all the details, including duration opportunities for rest. If you are visiting Rome, and would like to tour the Vatican, Colosseum, Roman Forum, Baths of Caracalla and other places, visit our main site to learn more!
-Article by Diedré Blake
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