Traveling isn’t an easy task, even for those with full capacity and no health issues.

So when ‘Liz’ contacted me for tips, I thought I could reply here so that you all get to read them. Remember, these are MY tips for MY chronic pain experience. Yours (and Liz’s) will be different.

Dear Liz,

I’ve done various things while traveling as I was in very different stages each trip. But let’s focus on Italy as that was my last trip and I knew so much more about PN.

I’m hoping you have a good pain team that can help you plan your trip. Is there someone helping with your pain management? They could recommend nerve blocks among other pain relief options but also you could explore aids to help you maximise your capacity. Eg I had a walking stick in Italy for the walled cities with those steep hills! I did have a nerve block just before I got on the plane and I also planned to take teeny, teeny doses of a pain med.

I still use the seat I made years ago. I also plan my sitting very carefully.

My day went like this in Italy:

Up in the morning, walk to breakfast, sit down to eat breakfast, up to walk towards a lunch destination, sit and have a glass of wine during lunch, walk back to accommodation and have a siesta (easy to do in Italy!) and then up for a walk and dinner.

I can usually get through a long dinner session as I have a few glasses of wine. Naps are immense relief for me. I also don’t over do it when my body isn’t screaming with pain. That’s where PN can be tricky – I find my brain can get distracted when it meets a new routine (travel is an incredible distraction!) and before I know it, I’ve gone too far.

Plan the day in different directions so you get to see more of the place. If you want to move through Italy, take the fast train (it doesn’t vibrate so much) and or stop over for a night in the towns (sleep is restorative for all of us I’d say). If you’re travelling by car, make sure you have a good pillow or something that can be a barrier between your backside and the seat.

Not endorsing wine but it really works for me and while I’m traveling I don’t place limits on myself. I will never over drink and am always happy to leave wine in the glass. Coffee also works for me. Essentially I’m finding something that takes the edge off the brain and creates that ‘aaargh’ moment.

There’s alot more to managing travel, as is managing all our days.

It’s all the other things you do and don’t that will help you get through. Try not to encourage the biggest triggers and try and engage the huge benefits whilst obviously finding the balance so you can enjoy your trip. For me this meant avoiding in excess of 3kg – I don’t hold a hand bag. Even if you think a hand bag is light, over the course of an hour, it’s a huge pressure let alone a whole day. So for luggage, go the rolley bags!

A not so glamorous but super important factor, the toilet routine! It has to be 100% functioning as this is one of the largest pressures on the pudendal nerve – you cannot have a full bowel or bladder. In Italy, they usually have bidets in all the bathrooms. I discovered how effective a cooling wash was in Italy. My mother swore by the bidet and I never understood what she meant until I sat on the bidet during a flare and realised it was subsiding the flare (I came home and installed one!). Cold water is much more effective as water penetrates through layers of skin unlike ice which just numbs the top surface. But you may need heat… as I said, we’re all different. Heat sends me in a flare.

Bon voyage

It takes alot of planning to travel, and given that our experiences with pain are unique, the way to enjoy a trip will vary for each of us. And of course, there will be pain but focus on the fact you are out and you can enjoy and take in the huge blessing that is travel. Lap up the blissful food, blissful views and all the wondrous moments and bring them back in your heart to help you put PN in its place!

Best wishes and safe and happy travels! xx