6 Tips for Planning a Holiday When You Have a Chronic Illness

I’ve been on three holidays since my health got to a point where I need assistance, and I’ve learnt lessons from each one. Here’s what I’ve figured out:

1. Pick your mode of transport carefully. There are pros and cons with them 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. It 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 traveling with. It also helps when you enjoy shared music or can wear headphones.

Trains are OK if I’m 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 can be exhausting, but if you’re like me, then having time to yourself is great. On one trip, I listened to an audio book, stopped whenever I wanted and cut up the journey by staying overnight halfway through the trip. Downsides can include pain and exhaustion from the driving, but this is my favorite option as I’m not a fan of public transport. I like being straight on my way instead of having to get somewhere before I can get started on my journey, cutting down on traveling time and general stress.

2. Thoroughly research your hotel, apartment, villa, or 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. “Oh, that looks pretty,” really isn’t enough. I have more needs now.

I need parking right outside the hotel, a room close to reception or near what I’m going to be doing, and an adapted bathroom. The hotel can’t be too big or have loads of steps, that way I can walk around without getting exhausted. I prefer decent food with serving times that suit me, and excellent customer service as I ask for things. Also on that list, 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. 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. Or, 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 that relaxes me. 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. Keep it all flexible so you can cancel and swap things about, depending on how you’re feeling. I try to tone down my usual pacing, and I plan and fit in more resting and relaxing activities. That way 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 the place where you’re staying before you book, or at least before you leave.

This way you can confirm everything about the room and your necessary requirements. I always have to check that I can put some medications in a fridge, and that there’s decaf tea and coffee. If there’s not, I’ll take my own.

For your nonnegotiables, get in touch before your trip and make sure they’re all organized 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. Always take gifts or take them 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 financial break. 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 away from you caused by researching and booking everything. If you enjoy searching for places to stay and ways to get there, then ignore this piece of advice. Sometimes there’s too many websites, 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!

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

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

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