What Vacationing Is Like When You're Chronically Ill

It’s summertime. Everyone is getting ready to take trips and vacations. I have mine booked. I remember a time when I would have been really excited to go. I would count down the days with tons of anticipation, but as someone who battles a few different health issues, vacations can turn into more work than fun.

I miss the days when I didn’t have to explore the area I was visiting to see what kind of ratings their hospitals have. I miss worrying about how many activities I will be able to cram into my week’s stay instead of worrying about how my health will impact what activities, if any, I am able to do. Googling nearby grocery stores and pharmacies and organic markets becomes more important than beach activities or sightseeing.

I am grateful to be going away, but when you are sick, traveling is tough. The prep time is exhausting. There is the job of meticulously packing all the medications, creams and special foods. The fatigue from traveling can eat up a lot of the time you’d rather spend on enjoying the trip. Anxiety can also take over as you begin to think about all the things that may happen. Coping with this anxiety becomes a central focus.


Spending the extra money on a suite with a full kitchen is important for me, since I have food allergies and digestive issues. I have to cook most meals myself. These rooms are generally very nice. They are spacious and have an apartment-like feel. Some people might get the impression I am traveling in style just for the fun of it, when really it’s a necessity and it’s costly. I really miss the days when I could stay in a cheap one bedroom motel and eat out anywhere I wanted.

If you are a flyer, which I am not, then you probably have a whole bunch of other obstacles to deal with that are both mentally and physically exhausting.

Sometimes it’s just nice to be sick in a different place than the one you are usually in. A change of scenery can be helpful in feeling better mentally. The problem is that traveling for a sick person involves more preparation, mentally and physically, than a healthy person. Healthy people use vacations as a way to recharge and relax. When you are sick, you usually need a vacation from your vacation.

I realize this may sound like nothing but chronic complaining to a lot of people, but this is what chronic illness looks like.

I am hoping to enjoy my trip. I hope and pray I will feel good, or at least decent. I’m wishing all of you safe and healthy travels this summer – tough as it may be.

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Thinkstock photo via Jupiterimages.

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