I recently completed a very long haul flight (26 hours owch!) which I was pretty worried about. This inspired me to ask members of The TiredGirl Society for their advice on surviving long flights with chronic health conditions. Thank you to all Tired Girls who gave me ideas! You can check out the amazing support at The TiredGirl Society
Book Special Assistance
The absolute first thing you should do is book special assistance. Generally you can request this after you’ve booked a flight or train. Special assistance can meet you with a wheelchair at an airport and escort you to avoid long queues. Many UK airports now provide you with a special assistance sunflower lanyard to help staff notice you.
e.K.f agreed, ‘Always book airport assistance! And they don’t always advertise it but if you call or email before then you can usually have them come and collect you from wherever you arrive at the airport, to save you having to search for the assurance desk.’
If you’re taking the train, also book assistance. At a station they can help you board the train if needed and ensure you find your seat.
Time for a Medication check
If you’re on any medication, it’s vital to ensure you’re packing enough to last the trip and allow enough for any extra delays if you can too. Make sure all your medication is in its original packaging and you’ve got a copy of your prescription packed.
You also need to check the legal requirements if you’re going to another country. Some medication isn’t legal in certain countries or may require special notification. Always check- you wouldn’t want to be caught breaking the law!
Tired Girl member Sjogrens_Warrior also made a great point about keeping your medication cool, ‘If you have meds that need to be kept cold, make sure you have med bags/holders with ice packs. For ex. I have Enbrel that needs to be kept cool. I called Enbrel support & they actually sent me a travel case specifically to hold my injectors that had a small ice pack.
Sjogrens_Warrior also brought up the importance of checking your equipment for travelling. ‘If you have any equipment (ex. Pumps, walkers, wheelchair, etc), make sure that you set up anything the day before a flight so it’s simple to get it all together & go. Additionally, if you need to inform the airline that you will have equipment. Unfortunately, their may be an extra charge, but you need to inform them when you’re making your travel plans’
Surviving the Trip
Planning ahead is the best way to get through a trip comfortably. Ensure you’re dressed comfortably and pack yourself a mini flare kit. I made sure I had a good fitting eyemask, neck pillow and a good supply of painkillers to help make it through the trip.
Chronically Cheerful suggests ‘Bring extra water bottles and extra food that meets whatever dietary restrictions you may have. It may seem like a small thing, but should your flight get further delayed, rerouted or generally held up, us spoonies can’t tolerate waiting without sustenance!’ and she’s totally right. I made sure I had a good supply of water and nut free snacks for the trip and we did indeed get held up!
Look after yourself mentally with travel too, it can be mentally exhausting. Relaxing music, podcasts and sensory blocking accessories like earplugs and eyemasks are very helpful.
‘If you do have travel anxiety (I know I have lots of travel anxiety related to my health these days) I find that listening to a guided meditation on the plane before takeoff or during the flight can be really helpful.- Chronically Cheerful
Thank you so much to everyone from The TiredGirl Society who helped me out. You can check out the thread here. Have you got any travel tips to share? I’d love to hear them!
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