Traveling can be a royal pain for those of us in, well, pain. Here are my 10 tips on natural pain relief while traveling — based on what has helped reduce the struggle for me:
1. If you can afford it, stay at a nice hotel. I find that the money I save on cheap hotels or youth hostels is not worth the suffering I endure from the noise, the poor bedding, and the lack of amenities that make life easier. In addition, I find that the surprise factor of staying at someone’s house can end up working against my special needs, leaving me miserable.
2. Leave adventure for something other than your lodgings. Chain hotels are ideal for those of us in pain. Once you find a hotel that has a system that works for you, stick with it wherever you travel. If you stay at the same hotel every time, and/or use their credit card for your daily purchases, you can rack up points and earn free nights. Also, if you enroll in their special deals programs, you will get notice of special rates at hotel locations across the country.
3. Wherever you plan to stay, call ahead of time to make sure that the place you’re staying has a firm bed. If you find that it doesn’t, do your best to find another place to stay. I find that the Marriott has decent beds, as well as all the amenities I need, so that’s my hotel of choice. (I once stayed at the Sheraton and was delighted to discover that it had a perfect orthopedic bed that made for a delicious sleep. Unfortunately, I also discovered that it had bedbugs, and I was bitten in 48 places that took shy of three months to heal!)
4. Pack a camping mat with an egg-carton pattern. Put this mat on top of the mattress and underneath the bedding, to enhance the orthopedic support when you sleep on a less-than-perfect bed away from home.
5. Call ahead of time to arrange for a mini fridge and freezer to be put in your room. Often hotels will provide this appliance upon request, sometimes for a fee. It will enable you to store special foods and ice packs, which — if you’re like me — you use as part of your natural pain relief regiment. If the hotel will not bring a refrigerator/freezer to your room, ask if you can store your food or ice packs in theirs.
6. If you do use nutrition as a part of your natural pain relief regimen, call ahead of time to find out where there is a health food store in the area. Buy items when you arrive, instead of packing them, to keep your luggage light.
7. Call ahead of time to find out if the hotel has a gym, and if so, what equipment and weights they have available. If they do not have a gym, or if they do not have what you need to keep your pain levels down, find out where the nearest gym is. This is one reason why it’s great to belong to a gym with a chain throughout the United States: Wherever you go, you’ll have access.
8. Pack a small ice bag in your carry-on luggage. If you have a pain flareup on the flight, ask the flight attendant to fill your bag with ice. That way you won’t need to request a leaky plastic impromptu ice bag instead.
9. If you have an iPod, or if you’re bringing your computer, be sure to download guided imagery CDs, meditation CDs, audio books on self-healing, and any other tracks you can listen to while traveling — to help keep your pain levels down. Alternately, see if the place you’re staying has a CD player, and if it does, bring along these CDs.
10. As far as I know, airports do not have special assistance other than for people who need wheelchairs. So if you need help with your bags; if standing in a long line exacerbates your pain levels; or if you need help making it from one side of the airport to the other, call ahead of time to arrange for wheelchair assistance.
Just be sure to make a point of asking the wheelchair attendant to be very careful that there is always extra space around your feet, as s/he pushes the chair through the airport. I have found that without giving a heads-up, attendants can be clumsy and bang me into people or bags — which can leave me in pain for days. Also, if your body is hypersensitive, let the attendant know where not to touch you, so that they don’t end up giving you a friendly pat on the back or squeeze on the shoulder that puts you in agony!