11 Tips For Traveling With An Invisible Illness


For me going on holidays provide me with a much-needed break from everyday life and my chance switch off and recharge my batteries. 
Unfortunately, before I can enjoy the sun, seafood delicious exotic foods, there is that part which I often describe as ""Going through hell to get to heaven.""
It may seem mellow dramatic, but for me navigating around busy airports with luggage, dealing with flight delays, waiting for luggage, transfers to and from the hotel/resort can be super stressful and overwhelming then add an invisible illness to the pile
Now can you understand why to some it might seem like hell?
Busy airport

Not to say that people with disability or conditions cannot travel comfortably it just takes a bit of organisation to ensure that the trip to heaven 'doesn't end up ruining your holiday or putting you off from going altogether. 

Over the years, I have combed through the internet, spoken to various people and noticed things that I have made my life easier while and have found that a little bit of organisation goes a long way. 
It 'wasn't until I recently went to Denmark with a colleague that I realised how much my coping mechanisms had helped me during my previous travels. 
I had gone on several long haul trips, at times by myself and come back relatively unscathed while a mingy 1.5-hour flight nearly took me out of circulation simply because I was too embarrassed to use my tried and tested methods in front of a colleague that I did not know very well.

Anyone that knows about Lupus knows that the symptoms can widely vary as can other invisible illnesses, If me like me and you suffer from joint pain, pain or weakness in your muscles, fatigue or anything else that affects your mobility I have a few tips that you can use in order to help make your travels less stressful or taxing on your body.
Airport assstance

Don't be afraid to ask for what you need
This starts from the booking process, when I am selecting hotels I make sure to check if they have lifts and if so how many, and try to gauge how far I would need to walk to get to the common areas such as the pool, restaurants etc. 
I also check if the airline offers support for travellers with mobility issues, such as extra legroom or bulkhead seats, or help getting around the airport of late I have found that osme airlines now prefer to charge for extras, and generally I 'don't mind paying as it can make the difference between me having a good time or me being stuck in the bedroom for the beginning of my holiday.
I have found that a quick call or email to the resort and airline company before booking gives me the peace of mind I need to part with my well-earned pounds. Once I have completed my booking I then make contact again with my booking references and to confirm that my requirements have indeed been recorded in the system – it is important to log the date and the name of the person you spoke to.
Provide Yourself With A Peaceful Place 
Airports can be busy, hectic pieces and with hundreds or maybe thousands of people coming and going you 'can't guarantee to sit down and rest while waiting for your flight, 
Airport lounges like the No1 lounge or the Clubhouse can provide a much-needed oasis of calm from the craziness of the terminals, plus they tend to offer free Wi-Fi, food and drinks into the price, and you can stay in them for up to three hours before your flight.
 Prices tend to start from around £20 (But if you search the internet you are sure to find cheap deals.
Between you and me I have also been know use the plastic bags from security to take pastries and fruit out of the lounges and bring them on to the plane in case I get hungry during the flight. 
Check out my review of the no1 lounge HERE

Give yourself Time
I always try to get to the airport at the time check-in opens and to allow myself the maximum amount of time to go through security possibly look around the shops and then chill out in the lounge until it is Time to board the plane, again leaving plenty of Time so I 'don't get stressed or overwhelmed. 

socialising

Communication Is Key
If I am travelling with someone I make sure to have a talk with them before we go during which I explain how my condition affects me and what I need to be comfortable, it is super important that your travel companion is understanding and is willing to potentially do extra work to support you or be flexible with their plans, i.e. may have to go alone to that excursion or maybe not go at it could also mean paying aside extra funds to buy direct flights or upgrade seats on the plane, meet and greet parking etc. If I can, I will try to surprise them by paying for such upgrades. A lot of the tie when I have assistance through the airport we get to jump the lines which my travel companions seem to enjoy.

Keep It Clean 
A few weeks ago a video of Naomi Campbell when viral; in the video, Naomi showed her flying routine which included which she documented what she does when she travels, part of which included wiping down all of the surfaces with antibacterial wipes. While some felt that Naomi was slightly over the top or OCD while I was disappointed at myself for not going to her extremes. Think about it the people that clean the planes only have a short amount of time to clean before you board which basically gives them enough time to pick up rubbish and surfaces food then they are on to the next, so of course, surfaced are not adequately disinfected. 
While I yet to wipe down everything that I may possibly touch, I always pack a bottle of hand sanitiser and wet wipes in my carry on ( TSA standard sizes of course).
Also considering the air on planes are recycled one 'person's germs could potentially make or breaks my holiday and with hundreds of people breathing in the same recycled air the face mask probably 'doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

Packing list

Pack It In
· Carry any medications you require in your hand luggage along with your prescription never in your checked baggage, in case your checked luggage is lost or delayed in transit. Also, make sure you have any mobility aids that you may require. Even if you 'don't need it at that moment as the high altitudes during flying can also take their toll on your body. 

· I also tend to get anxious during flights so I like to bring a few home comforts such as a blanket, some lavender oil or spray some slippers or slipper socks so I can talk my shoes off but still walk around the plane
· Decent headphones and downloads of shows or movies that I excided to watch or relaxing to help pass the time or even sleep
· These items will also come in handy throughout your holiday also 

· miniature-sized versions of my favourite skincare products so that I can take off my makeup and feel abet more comfortable throughout the flight or even give myself a put on a cheeky face mask to offset the drying effect of the air conditioning. I have found that eve I have also found that a spritz of Dermalogica spray toner is fantastic for refreshing my skin throughout the flight

· And of course as I mentioned earlier wet wipes and hand sanitiser. 
· While I have never really had to show it to anyone I bring my blue badge (Or a photocopy) with me as I do worry that someone will not believe I have an invisible illness because I, of course, do not look like 'anything's wrong with me 

· Last but not least, pack some of your favourited snacks for the hotel in case you 'don't feel up to going out. Not all hotels offer room service and the meals in the hotel shops can be super expensive, or you may not be able to find you got to snacks from home. I like to have my favourite cookies, some crackers and perhaps a multi back of crisp space allowing 
Snacks

I 'can't count the number of times I have up in the night or even early in the morning before the canteens open starving and unable to go out and pick up food. 
'It's worth picking up a few extra zip lock bags when you go through security to ensure your room stays crumb-free.

Park It 
Although a lot of people preferred to book cabs or have someone drop then to the airport, I have been burned using both of these methods, so I prefer to drive my own car and park at the airport.
However long gone are the days of leaving my car in an offsite carpark and getting on a shuttle, once I learnt about the Meet and Greet parking service that has been my service of choice 


Parking meet and greet

You simply rock up to your terminal where a uniformed driver will greet you and take your car simples, and once you are back from your holiday you will also be greeted by a driver who will give you your car back 
This is not the cheapest of the services however I have been able to find some fantastic deals when I look early enough 

Hotel room
When I am flying at unsocial hours (especially with large groups), I have been known to opt for a Hotel & Parking Package which again 'aren't always the cheapest but cannot only elevate a lot of last-minute stress but be an excellent way to kick off your holiday 

Debit/credit card

If you can afford it - 'Don't be afraid to pay 
A few of the things mentioned my list, unfortunately, come at an extra cost, and you could find that abled-bodied travel companions do not want to contribute to the charges, this can seem quite hurtful, but please remember if it were personal, they 'wouldn't have chosen to go on holiday with you. Discuss your requirements before you book and maybe offer to cover the costs if you can afford it, yes they will also benefit from the convenience however it is an expense they would not even have to consider if they were travelling alone or with another companion. 

big map

Know where to go 
These websites have been an absolute godsend:
Seat guru – simply type in your flight number and not only does it show you the seat map for your flight, but it will also tell you important facts like which seats do not go back and which places give you extra legroom 

TripAdvisor – full of tips from fellow travellers that have been there for I have gotten handy information such as which hotels do not have lifts, which rooms are closest to the action and even maps of the resort. On the rare occasion when I have not found an answer to a query, there is always the option of asking the question in one of the forums 
Do You Boo 
The whole point of going on holiday is to yourself to relax and rest however there can often be pressured to go on excursions, 'dinner's walks or even sticking to the hotel's schedules of activities and meals.
'It's especially frustrating when I hear statements like:
""You come all this way just to take a nap/ lay by the pool/go to bed early? What a waste of money!""
""If you aren't leaving the resort you should have just stayed home!""
""You can sleep when 'you're dead!""
""You will feel better when you get some fresh air.""
""I have to go to breakfast/lunch/dinner by myself?""

'Don't let anyone dictate to you what you can handle) only you know your body best. 
I used to let other people pressure me into doing more and more activities when my body was telling me that it needed rest leaving me tired, cranky and miserable but could also push me to have a flare. I now prioritise the things that I would like to accomplish through out my holiday and i don't beat myself up if I 'don't get to do or see all of the items listed on my bucket list, I also offer to meet up with my travel companions or even people who I meet in my own time when I am well rested .

Relaxing room

Pamper yourself
Go treat yourself to a spa treatment, you deserve it!
Plus lot of countries have such surprisingly affordable spa treatments available, so why not try them out?
Remember that Travel can be stressful and overtaxing even for healthy people, but if you have an invisible illness that can go double for you. 

I genuinely believe that travelling is a beautiful and enriching experience and I wish I did more of it before I was diagnosed with Lupus, however I refuse to let it stop me (even though it might slow me down lol); and it 'shouldn't stop you either now go see some of the places on your bucket list and good time 

also if you would like to visit one of the airport lounges or try Meet and greet parking 
check out for great deals



Do you have any travel hacks?
Comment below 


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Lee-Anne x 


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4 comments

Kirstin said...

This was such a great detailed post. As someone who also suffers from an invisible illness, I always do similar things too. It's worth it for that piece of less stress.
I also always worry my medication will be searched haha

Anthony @ Green Mochila said...

Airports are a living hell to many people - to me, that's for sure. I can't imagine how it is with an illness, visible or not. I find that your 1st tip is the best ever for these situations: state what you need. It's not as straightforward as it seems, and definitely not so easy.

Molly @ Transatlantic Notes said...

Really useful and valuable post — thank you for sharing!

Matt said...

Thanks for writing this. You've got some great tips in there. Travelling through airports and busy tourist areas can be a challenge at the best of times. Since my wife was diagnosed with coeliac disease, we've discovered just how much of a challenge finding gluten-free food can be in some places. To be fair, more and more venues are getting better, but we've just discovered Singapore airport is terrible for gluten-free food. That's not to say there aren't options that should be gluten-free, it's just that they aren't labelled and many people don't know what you are talking about. Nevertheless, we've started to discover, as you suggested right at the start, that you just have to ask and explain what you need. Sometimes you do have to make sacrifices, be it paying more, or eating a dish you weren't really hoping for, but at the end of the day, it starts and ends with you and making sure you look after you. Thanks again for this article and your insights!

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