Tips for planning a road trip and balancing the challenges of chronic disease
We love traveling and more to the point, we love road trips! We used to take so many road trips that we have been to most states, except a handful of the northern states, Alaska and Hawaii ( mainly because it is kind a hard to do a road trip to Hawaii 🙂 ) . During our honeymoon we took a road trip to Niagara Falls and New England.
We are about to embark on a fairly long trip ( although not the longest we have taken) – just around 1000 miles. We are driving from south central Pennsylvania to West Florida and we will be making two stops before we reach Florida. Road trips require some basic planning in advance- have your car checked, make a list of what you need to pack, entrainment for kids etc.
Because of my chronic heart disease, planning for the trip is a bit more tricky and involved than it used to be.
Here are my tips and advice if you take a road trip and are dealing with a chronic illness.
Take all your medications with you!
This may sound like a very obvious thing but I have to put it first because this is definitely number one for me. I must take 4 prescription medication every day and some essential supplements. It is the most important thing I need to take with me. I make sure I have all my medications refilled well ahead of time ( the same goes for my supplements- I make sure I am stocked up before the trip).
Make sure you check the turnaround time for your doctor’s office prescription refills. Mine needs 72 hours for the refill to be available for pick up. Unless I contact the doctor directly and ask for a quicker refill. So, I make sure all my refills are done at least a week before we travel. That relieves lot of stress for me.
Along with the medications you need to make sure you take any equipment you use on a daily basis. For example, I will be taking my blood pressure cuff with me as well.
Use major interstates and highways
I love taking scenic back roads and enjoying vistas I wouldn’t normally see on main roads.
However, I also have to be practical and realistic. Being far away from bigger towns and cities is not desirable if you have an unpredictable chronic disease that may flare at any moment. In case you start feeling unwell, you are not miles into the countryside, away from a decent sized hospital. I know that even driving on the interstate, there are stretches between towns where there is nothing but fields/mountains/desert. This is about takng precautions where you can.
When taking everything in consideration, what route will be the most sensible ?
Be aware of major hospitals along the way
In the case of an unavoidable stop at a hospital, it is wise to know the major hospitals en route. I suggest carrying a copy of your diagnosis and a condensed medical record ( pertinent lab results, EKGs, phone numbers for you primary care doctor and any specialists you are seeing)
This is all about planning for the worst but hoping for the best.
Scheduled hotel stays
In the old days ( when I was young and healthy) we use to drive until we were tired. Then we would go to the nearest decent looking hotel and stay the night there. Most times, they had plenty of availability.
This time we split our travel into 3 days. WE are only driving just over 300 miles a day. This is a decent amount and allows for frequent stops ( need to keep the blood flowing and prevent blood clots!). WE won’t feel rushed and that means less stress for me. Which translates to less of a chance of chest pain and other unpleasant symptoms. Stress and physical activity triggers my heart symptom every time.
WE have hotels booked for the two nights. again, another potential stressor eliminated ( the possibility of non availability).
Bring things to do
Ideally, once you get to your destination, you will feel well enough to explore with your family.
But we all know life isn’t fair. I know that if I don’t listen to my body when it tells me to rest, my condition worsens at a rapid rate. If you need rest, rest!
IF you need to hang out at the hotel or a coffee shop while the family explores, that’s alright. Ask them to take pictures.
I don’t do “to do lists” anymore. I do “things I hope to do” lists. And those lists are fluid and can change according to how I feel. Someone’s my heart support group shared this Psychology Today article about “A not to do list ” by Toni Bernhard, J.D. It is very good reading and I recommend it to everyone who suffers from a chronic illness
So, even though I hope am doing pray to be able to explore with my to family, I also will be bringing alone time activities- my iPad ( I can read books and use social media), coloring books, my planner ( I love to draft future blog posts in it).
Thing about the things that make you happy and bring them with you.
Tell me what special preparations you take before a road trip because of your chronic condition? Any other suggestions for me?