Things I Need When I Travel

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

July 15th, 2016 • Travel Dance HealPrint Print

On the face of it, all I need is a firm bed, hot shower, safe space to rest my head, and access to healthy food. But as I have been traveling, it’s become evident that I need quite a bit more than that, which makes traveling a lot less footloose and fancy free and a lot more strategically designed. Thank goodness for Air BnB and VRBO, which enable me to have a home-like environment while seeing the world.

Here’s what I’m discovering are some basic needs to keep myself thriving while traveling:

A place where I can dance
While I’m super adaptable – I can dance in small spaces if necessary, and with headphones on – I need the freedom to boogy my woogy, so as to stay well. The first week, I was in an environment that was not conducive to my dancing, and I couldn’t get rid of the ankle pain that was triggered by a Delta flight attendant’s errant ways (more on that in another post). The one day I managed to dance, said ankle pain vanished. Dance is non-negotiable in my life. It is as essential to me as breathing.

Access to a pool and/or bike
I have had neither recently, and I’ve turned into a sloth. While I’ve been swimming in the ocean, it’s been cautions swimming, as opposed to the full-force swimming in a lap lane. And while I’ve been walking as much as I can, said ankle pain – which has been an issue, on and off, for many years – leaves me needing alternative forms of physical activity at my disposal. I can’t rely on walking alone.

A functional kitchen
In areas with organic markets and restaurants, I can more or less get by, but often these places use heaps of raw kale and spinach, both of which are goitrogens and therefore neither of which I can have. In addition, a lot of places use soy, gluten, dairy, and other things that I more or less keep out of my diet. The best, not to mention least expensive, way for me to function and maintain my awesome diet is to buy raw ingredients from an organic market, and prepare my food myself.

Measuring spoons
These are necessary, I have come to discover, to correctly portion out my supplements for my morning smoothie.

Speaking of my morning smoothie, I need to blend all my supplements and other goodies, including frozen berries, together every morning – ergo, the need for a blender, never mind a freezer and refrigerator for numerous smoothie ingredients.

Purified water
To stay healthy, I need to drink good water. Not quite sure yet how to handle this one, as I go from place to place and attempt to keep my luggage to a minimum (more about that in another post, too!) I know REI had a water bottle with a water purifier built in, but there’s no REI in Hawaii, and I’m already here. I may see if I can scout out something like that somewhere.

I have come to understand that even the most well-intentioned, loving, and understanding people can still not get the reality of my life on some level. It just does not compute that when I look and seem so “robust,” as one woman put it, I can end up in pain for days or weeks when someone careens past me and cuts into my body space, without touching me. I find that it’s easier to remove myself from people, and that I therefore need a good chunk of time away from people each day, so that I am in nonnegotiable, freeform, truly safe space, with me and me alone to contend with, and so that I have recovery time from navigating through an insensitive world with a very sensitive body.

Environments free of allergens
I have spent hours and hours researching housing options as I travel, because this one has a cat, that one has a dog, the other one has feather pillows, those people use pot (which gives me a nasty headache to be around), and on and on. So I’m not just looking in a particular area for a particular price, but I’m also looking for numerous other items on my checklist. Obviously, the more you have on a checklist, the more difficult it is to find a place.

Environments free of loud noises
I need somewhere that I can come and go as I please, as well as sleep whenever I need, without having to worry about avoiding loud noises (like construction work). My little body needs to nest and feel secure.

A Car
I love the thrill and adventure of a bus. You see the gritty city, you meet people, you strike up conversations, and you have experiences. You just cannot have that same level of engagement in new places, when you are driving around in your own little car. And yet, taking the bus, I discovered on this first leg of my trip, is a major pain in the ass, for the same reason it is a total delight: I have no control over my environment.People may smoke at bus stops; there may not be seats available to wait for the bus; there may not be seating available on the bus; even if there is seating, it may with inadequate space – leading to pain; and pushing through a crowd, especially while the bus is moving, is a recipe for disaster in my sensitive little body.

I know. I tried it for a few days. And concluded that I absolutely must rent a car, or hire drivers, to get around during my global wanderings.

All these needs add up to a major investment of both time and resources. Among other things, I will obviously function better in single-space dwellings like studio apartments or guest houses, which are typically twice as expensive as shared spaces, and as I mentioned, I need a car. That adds up to a lot of cha-ching, never mind the Benjamins that go toward organic food, supplements, and the like. Which leads me to another blog post for another time, about the economics and politics of healing.

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