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10 Packing Tips for People With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

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1. Check the weather.

Get details about the area you are going to. I just do a Google search.

I like to check what the forecast is calling for, but I also check my destination’s weather has been like lately. This way if the area is having an unusual heat spike, I can pack for that.

But also…

​That heat streak may end, and I want to know I have packed extras (layering) that I may not have otherwise thought of — a must for those of us that are temperature-sensitive.

I normally use The Weather Network.

2. Start early.

Unless it’s a last-minute trip, take the time to get organized and start packing early. I don’t want to try rushing around at the last minute. It causes unwanted stress on my bodies and mind.

I try to pre-pack what I can on a better day, even spreading it out over a few days if needed. This helps keep the last-minute packing easier to handle, giving me time to rest before I leave.

3. Use a packing list.

Check it off as it goes into the suitcase, then just use it in reverse to remember to bring everything home.

I know, for me, getting ready to head home is hard. I am usually exhausted and in extra pain, a perfect recipe for fibro fog. With my packing list, it is one less thing I need to worry about!

I really like this free downloadable packing list on Pinterest. I used it last time I travelled.

4. Roll clothes.

For more space and less wrinkles. More space means you might be able to fit everything in a smaller, lighter suitcase. Pack layers and pack comfortable clothing (especially for down time).

I always use the smallest suitcase with wheels that I can fit all my things into, making it easier to handle myself, in case there is nobody available to ask for help.

5. Pack smarter.

Packing smarter means things take up less “real estate” in your suitcase and helps to keep the bags easier to handle.

Try space-saving bags to save space (sounds obvious, but I only recently learned this trick). I like the ones you can roll to reduce the air.

​Pick up some travel-sized bottles for things like shampoo, conditioner, mouthwash, etc. You can get these at any drug store, big box store, grocery store. Or pick up small reusable containers and just fill with products from home. ​​I bought some at a dollar store, and they have worked well.

Pack things in shoes (socks? something fragile?)

Use contact cases or prescription medicine holders to pack smaller things like earrings, smaller amounts of makeup, smaller bottles of OTC medication (but pack what you think you’ll need, plus extra just in case.)

Pack charge cords and headphones in glasses cases (you will thank me for this one!)​.

6. Comfortable shoes.

Pack comfortable walking shoes because chances are you will be doing more walking than you would on a typical day.

Yes, shoes take up valuable space in your suitcase. By packing at least two pairs lets you be choosy depending on the activity.

Pack on a pair of slip ons (flip flops? slippers?) for when you are not out and about — especially if going to a beach or pool destination.

7. Remembering the extras.

Consider taking items you use to control specific complaints. These things will be different for different people.  Dark sunglasses or an eye mask for light sensitivity or migraines. Ear plugs for noise sensitivities. Also to help get some extra rest when sleeping (will it be noisy where you are going?), I never forget these!

Bring a paper and pen to write down anything you want to remember if you struggle with fibro fog. A mouth guard if you use one for TMJ (temporomandibular joint) or migraines. Epsom salts for a hot bath to relax after a busy day. A CPAP machine for people with sleep apnea. A walking aide if you use one. I don’t use my cane all the time, but I always take it with me. I use it for balance, dizziness, leg weakness and on bad pain days. Microwave heat bags or heating pads.

Remember, the items we use at home will help to make your trip a lot more comfortable. Even if bulky, think about what you feel like when you don’t use these items. Decide what you think is worth taking.

8.  Pack “down time” activities (or pick some up).

There may be times where you are not up for an activity and choose to spend the time relaxing. You may have some hours to fill when you are on your own. I always travel with my laptop. Yes it is an extra bag, but it can be my sanity saver. I use a laptop backpack and don’t overpack it so it isn’t too heavy. Books, magazines, an e-reader. Download a few movies in case you don’t have wifi (shocker, not all hotels offer free wifi). Pack a hobby. If you like to do things such as knitting, coloring to relax, listening to music, writing in a journal etc. If it doesn’t take up a lot of space, take it with you!

9. Remember all your medications.

Trust me, there is nothing worse than getting to your destination and realizing you forgot a crucial medication!

​Pack the amount you need, plus extras — emergencies and delays happen… (I broke my ankle in July and couldn’t drive for two weeks. Thankfully we were staying with family.)

Pack your “sometimes” medications. I get migraines, less now, but when I do, they are bad. Remembering this medication can mean avoiding three days in bed.

Pack your prescriptions in original bottles (if flying) to prove the doctor prescribed them for you.

I will usually check that there is a pharmacy I use at home, nearby. Having refills of my medications on file reduces my stress. Knowing we have a backup puts my mind at ease.

If there is no pharmacy chain I use, I like to travel with doctor’s paper prescriptions. This way I am able to fill them at any pharmacy.

Pack a paper list of all: diagnosis,  medications,  doctors pharmacy information, allergies, any other pertinent medical information you can think of. You may need to provide these to a hospital or clinic if you need one. It’s hard to remember all the details in the moment.

If you have a medical alert bracelet… wear it!

If you use medical marijuana, check the laws before traveling with any. It is still illegal in most places.

10. Plan for the best, but prepare for the worst.

Traveling with chronic pain sucks, and no matter how prepared you are, you are probably going to trigger something. Knowing you are prepared to deal with these situations is such a relief when you need it!

Traveling is stressful for “normal,” healthy people, so it is only a given that it will do the same to us.  It is hard on the body, it is hard to rest, eating healthy can be a challenge, but packing doesn’t have to be…​

Follow this journey on Days Flutterby.

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Originally published: December 7, 2016
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