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5 Ways to Have a Fun 'Staycation' When You Can't Travel Due to Illness

Everyone deserves a vacation. Daily responsibilities can add up quickly, leaving us drained and in need of some TLC. After all, we only have one body and we need to treat all aspects of our physical, emotional and spiritual bodies with respect.

Not everyone can just pick up and go just like that though. This is often a reality for many of us living with arthritis. I know this to be true as I am personally fighting rheumatoid arthritis. I had to have knee surgery last summer, so this year has been difficult to say the least. As my one year anniversary is approaching, I want to go somewhere to celebrate how far I’ve come.


I believe that after every trial and tribulation comes a blessing. Having a knee replacement at 29 wasn’t something I ever envisioned for myself, but it gave me my life back and a new way of viewing the world.

Nothing is impossible and it is what a person makes of it. Life is too short to let illness hold us back from enjoying life and all the experiences it can offer.

Yes, this sounds cliché and I’m guilty of making some eye rolls to those who have said these statements to me, thinking to myself that they really have no idea how hard it can be to travel with arthritis. After missing out on a lot of opportunities due to rheumatoid arthritis, I decided I wasn’t  going to become a martyr to my illness or let it control me anymore.

I’ve learned to adapt and make accommodations, which I feel anybody can with some determination, even if that means taking baby steps to get out of the comfort zone arthritis can often place us in.

I had wished to hop on a plane this June and actually get away but it didn’t work out. So, until I fly out of Chicago at some point this year, I’m planning a staycation at the end of this month that will be just as special.

Here are five ways to make your staycation memorable for years to come:

1. Release your inner child.

Recreate old childhood memories. A child knows what will make them happy. Oftentimes adult responsibilities can make us forget that inner child. They say that when you become a parent, you relive your youth through your kids. It’s a beautiful cycle of life. If you don’t have kids, go visit your old favorite childhood hangouts. Go to the pool, have dessert outside, don’t look at your mobile devices. Transport yourself back to a time when you were outside and didn’t have all these technical distractions. Make it a point to immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing. If you have kids, take them to do things you often loved doing as a kid.

2. Continue old traditions.

When the weather gets warmer, my family and I make it a point to go to the Chicago Botanic Gardens every year. Also, there are several festivals that go on in the summer. Many Greek Orthodox churches have what we call Greek fest. They have music, live dancing, games and food. I try to make it a point each year to go with family and friends to the same two every summer.

3. Make a new tradition.

Create new traditions with family or friends, or both! Summer time is the best time to do this. There are so many ways to find out what’s going on in your area from your local newspaper, Facebook, friends, word of mouth, etc. I was in the hospital last year around the Fourth of July and remember sitting in my hospital bed watching the fireworks from my recovery suite window with family and a close friend. I said to the people I was with, ‘’I want to do something special this time of year next year to celebrate where I was.” My hospital room was right next to the Arlington racetrack where thousands of people gathered to watch fireworks. This year I’ll be one of those thousands of people.

4. Mini road trip.

This can be done in many ways. You can go to the next town over and try out a new restaurant, café, lounge. Different towns also have their own local farmers’ markets, festivals and summer concerts. You can drive to the next state over and go visit a new town. Staying over one or two nights at a hotel and driving there can be more budget-friendly. It can also be a good way to lean into getting a hang of traveling all together when dealing with arthritis. If you don’t try new ways of doing things you won’t know how it will be for you. Take advantage of the things around you if there’s no other way. I plan on doing a mini staycation about one to one and a half hours away in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Although I have been there before as a kid, I haven’t been there now with arthritis. So it will be a different experience for me but I’m willing to tackle it.

5. Take a wellness day.

Choose a day and savor it. Go to a spa or have your own little spa at home. Binge watch any movies or TV shows, or sit outside and read a nice book in the comfort of your own home. A wellness day can be anything you want to do. I recently went on a day trip to the city to go see the Jurassic World exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago. It’s been something I’ve been wanting to see, so on a day I had no appointments and was free from other obligations, I decided to go. Afterwards, I went to a restaurant for lunch to try something new on the menu I’ve been eyeing. On the way home, we stopped by the lake and took in the scenery, then went home. It was a sunny day, and just being outside made me feel better. At the end of the day, I was tired but it was worth it because I crossed something off my bucket list of things to do this summer and made new memories!

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Thinkstock photo via Dirima.