Thursday, July 16, 2015

Travel Tips For Chronic Pain I've Come Across Prepping for London

I'm starting to compile a large list of "hacks" for traveling/moving abroad with chronic pain. More will be added to this list, but again, after exhausting Google, I have found no go-to site with a list how to make traveling easier.

Here is a compiled list of a ideas.


  • Plan ahead: don't try to do everything on your trip, get plenty of rest a week or so ahead of time, prioritize the things you want to see, include time for rest each day and the first few days to combat jet lag
  • Talk to your doctor: I had discussed with my doctor writing several lists (one for my disability advisor, one to receive a "disability room" at my housing, one for my flight, one for loans and one for the other specialists I will have there). Specifically for your letter to new specialists, it is a good idea for your doctor to detail your current meds, your allergies (especially drug related allergies) and a basic synopsis of your diagnoses and prognoses.
  • Buy travel insurance: This is a given. If you are too sick or in too big a flare to go, things always need to be cancelled every so often and you'll want your money back when it does. (This may also require a note from your doctor.) 
  • Don't change meds and/or therapies a few weeks before leaving.


  • When booking your flight, get accommodations. Just do it. It'll make your life easier. The key is to spend as little energy as possible on your flight so you can enjoy your vacation/new place of residence. Get wheelchair service in the airport--you will be able to skip lines to board, check in, etc. Ask for aisle bulk head seating (the seats in the front of each class with more leg room). See if they can give you an upgrade--I got one for business class. 

  • Medication: ALL medication you are bringing should be packed in a carry on. If you are going for 15 months like I am, you will most likely need a carry for just your drugs. At this point, you can use your doctor's note and call the airline's medical clearance to get more carry ons and check in bags for medical equipment, drugs, etc. Get all your drugs from a place like CVS Caremark that can give you all of them in advance. According to British Airways, customers and TSA will not have problems with me bringing a carry on bag of drugs and equipment like a TENS-Unit (as long as I also have the manual). 
  • Take breaks to walk up and down the aisles so you're not sitting constantly. Lay on the floor if need be. (I asked.) 

  • Get a direct flight. Seriously, going budget is not worth the pain. Avoid layovers. 
  • Drink lots of water! Bring an empty water bottle to fill up once you are at your gate. 
  • Try to reduce stimulation and bring comfort items. Noise canceling headphones are a godsend. Sunglasses, a blanket, a really nice neck pillow, etc. 
  • Pre-medicate before your flight. You will be happy you came prepared!
  • Dress comfy and wear lots of layers.
  • Give yourself LOTS of extra time at the airport (added breaks).


  • Start early. Since you need to rest the week or so before leaving, I have started slowly packing now, a month or so before my vacation. I know this may sound silly to some, but it makes me feel less stressed, since I am leaving for a year and still need to get a lot of things.
  • Make a giant list and check things off as you go through so you don't forget. 
  • If you can afford to, bring creature comforts from home like a good pillow, equipment used for pain management, splints, circulation socks,pain salve (depending on size), icy hot packs, eye mask, etc. 

  • Find all the things you'll need around you, who and what delivers, and how much. I know all the closest grocery stores, dry cleaners, pharmacies, hospitals, etc. I've also looked up where to find caretakers if I would ever need them.
  • Get all your new doctors' appointments set up before you go so you can get settled right when you get there. 

  • In London, there is Amazon UK Prime. I plan on ordering all my medical equipment to arrive perfectly the day after I move in so it's less work I have to do later. (I've made a Pinterest secret board with links to all the things I'll need to buy when I move.) 

Like I said, I haven't done the trip yet so I will change/add/delete accordingly as time goes on. 


  1. You are so amazingly brave to be doing this!

    1. Thank you northforkmom! :) I know we already spoke via email but it's so sweet of you to say.

  2. Thanks so much for this article! I will definitely be using it in the future, especially for air travel. I recently made my final move to South Korea from America.

    1. Good luck in South Korea, Becca! Sounds amazing.

  3. It's funny how when you're healthy you never think of these tidbits to simplify life.. But once you're stuck with chronic pain you plan the tiniest of tiny details! I suffer from it too as result of cancer but thankfully in remission now but I'm stuck with chronic pain for life.. And even though I'm in my 30s I feel like I'm in my 70s sometimes.

    P.s I'm a Londoner, if you need anything or any info do let me know, wishing you the best x

    1. Hi FourMe! I know, it's crazy! The extra work it is taking to do this move is in. It has taken me months of meticulous planning! I always say I feel like a 25 year old in my brain but with 80 year old joints! That is awesome you are in London--I may take you up on it! :)

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  4. We shall always be young, screw the pain!

    My email is in my profile, do contact me when you're in town, would love to meet up n share stories.

  5. I start packing for moves weeks in advance too. One thing I'd say after my last move is: have all the items you'll need straight away in one or two places, not in amongst all your boxes. I had to get my mum to come over (luckily I hadn't moved massively far) to help me unpack and get to the important items.
    Good to know I'm not the only one taking advantage of special assistance at the airport. I use the train special assistance too, if I'm taking luggage or I have a lot of walking to do.
    I'm still learning when it comes to packing in advance. I did ok packing to move house, but sometimes forget when I'm packing for a trip that I need to have a couple of days before the trip to let my pain levels drop so that I have a low pain level when I set off. And I'm gradually 'allowing myself' taxis to make things easier. Thanks for the list! I'm sure lots of people will find it useful.

  6. Quite interesting travel tips for chronic pain patients! When I had chronic pain I used to avoid travelling but now I have permanent relief from my chronic pain. Actually I have got chiropractic care from a reputed Mississauga chiropractor. I think you must try it friend!!