What's tiring for most people on a vacation though can be downright exhausting for someone with fibromyalgia. Why? Dealing with traffic, long lines at the airport, security checks, and getting around in a place you don't know is stressful, and stress can increase the pain of fibromyalgia.
Traveling is also physically draining. Carrying around luggage, especially lifting bags into overhead compartments, can lead to injury. Long days of sightseeing without enough rest can also make fibromyalgia symptoms worse.
To enjoy a vacation, take these steps to lessen the impact travel can have on your fibromyalgia.
- Seek out the sunshine. Cold and damp weather has been known to make fibromyalgia pain worse. Summer travel might be a better option than winter.
- Avoid planning trips to arduous terrains. Your destination should be a place that you're interested in visiting, but use common sense when making your plans. "Trekking in high mountains or rafting down rapids, where plenty of repeated traumas are likely to occur, should be avoided," advises Dr. Genta.
- Book a reservation with a modern hotel. A newer hotel with elevators will be easier to navigate than a charming historic hotel that has narrow stairs, Genta says. Even people who are athletic may have trouble carrying luggage up narrow passageways.
- Pack smart. Just as everyone should, try to pack only what you need to avoid having to lug a heavy suitcase. Comfortable walking shoes are a must, Genta adds. And be sure to pack your medication in a carry-on bag (not your checked bag, as it could get delayed or lost).
- Move as much as possible in the plane or car. "A long airplane trip is trying for everyone," Genta says. Moving and stretching in the cabin to avoid stiffness is especially important for people with fibromyalgia. Genta suggests checking in-flight magazines for stretching techniques you can do during your flight. If you're traveling by car, stop as often as needed to stretch.
- Get help with luggage. Always ask flight attendants with help getting a bag into an overhead compartment on an airplane, Genta says. Since picking up a heavy bag from the conveyor belt at baggage claim requires movement that can cause injury, she says, hire a porter to carry your luggage.
- Follow a leisurely itinerary. Although you may want to see as much as you can, don't try packing too many museums or cathedrals into your sightseeing plans in any one day. A stop at a sidewalk café watching the crowds is often more informative (and fun) than a lecture about the place you're visiting, says Genta.
After an enjoyable vacation, what's the protocol for getting back to everyday life? You'll probably struggle a bit to get back into your daily routine, just as everyone does, Genta says. If you've thought out your travel plans ahead of time and you didn't overdo activity while you were away, you shouldn't need a vacation from your vacation.