How To Travel Well With Chronic Illness

I get to go on a road trip! I’m so excited! The great thing about this trip is that I get to go to a conference with one of the sweetest ladies in the whole world who I’m fortunate enough to call my friend! The downside is I’ll be having to travel with chronic illness as well. My constant companion.

As I’ve been planning and packing for this trip I decided to create a checklist of sorts so that I’m always ready when I’m able to pack up and go. Along with the checklist, I’ve pinpointed a few tips to make my mini-vacation more enjoyable and keep my symptoms in check. I wanted to share them with you so when the opportunity arises you’ll be ready to hit the road!

travel with chronic illness

Here are a few essential tips to remember as you travel with chronic illness:

  1. Plan in advance.
    • Visit your doctor for his recommendation in case there are certain health conditions that would prevent or limit the ways you’re able to travel (ie: airplane).
    • Renew your prescriptions and order any medical supplies you’ll need at least two weeks ahead so you’re able to pack up the supplies you’ll need.
    • Make a checklist of travel items so you won’t forget anything and you won’t have to rely on your foggy brain for memory. Keep the list in a handy place so you’ll have it for your next trip!
  1. Get your clothes in order.
    • Be sure to have multiple layers. I prefer short sleeve sweaters – they’re warm enough and will allow me to stay cooler than a long sleeve top.
    • Keep a thin sweater, jacket or blanket in your bag – so it must be one that doesn’t wrinkle easily.
    • Have a few coordinating and comfortable outfits listed so you can grab the pieces you need and make sure they’re washed and ready. Do it by season and range of dressy-ness – possibly snap a photo of yourself in a complete ensemble and list the pieces on the back.  This way you also know how you look in it! Bonus!
  1. Have water and healthy snacks on hand as well as planned times and places to stop for meals.
  1. Have a travel med case ready to go.
    • Include sanitary and incontinence items – you don’t have to announce you have them if that might embarrass you but it’s less embarrassing than the alternative.
    • Have a list of your medications including the times and dosage.
    • Have your doctor’s phone number available.
  1. Exercise self-care the week prior to leaving.
    • Include some activity that will boost your self-confidence such as painting your nails, coloring your gray roots or getting a haircut (but it’s not the time to try something new). New chemicals could affect you and a new haircut you don’t love will actually lower your self-confidence.
  1. Inform your travel partner of any specifics you’ll require and what they need to know concerning your illness and limitation.
  1. Find the location of the hospitals nearest your destination and make note of the directions.
    • It’s a good idea to inform your travel partner of this as well.
  1. Have what you need to sleep comfortably.
    • Do you use a body pillow? Take it! Do you need a heating blanket? Take it! Not getting adequate, quality rest while traveling can sabotage the entire trip! Don’t skimp on your bedtime essentials.


What do your travel preparations look like? Share your best tip in the comments below!



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12 thoughts on “How To Travel Well With Chronic Illness

  1. When I travel by plane I ask for wheelchair assistance and use a cane. I have an invisible disability that causes a lot of fatigue. The cane is a visual clue that I need help and avoids lots of questions or dirty looks. Also, I make sure to have lots of time between flights as I’m relying on others to get me to the gate. This might mean missing the next flight and catching the one after. This means longer layovers and a later arrival so you have to decide what works best for you.

    • It’s amazing how different people are treated if they have a tell-tale sign, like your cane. Scheduling longer layovers is a great trip! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. I learned of your site through a fellow member of the Sjogren’s Christian support group on Facebook. Your work is so well done! I have had my own primitive version of keeping track of doctors on my computer, especially with 16 various specialists, but your system is so much better! As I age, I am not remembering as much as I did before and I’ve just grown weary of the whole process. My advice to anyone fairly new in this adventure is to take heed of this record system.

    • Thank you Jacquie! I’m so glad you stopped by! It takes time to develop what works for each of us, doesn’t it? I’m just thankful for those that I’ve learned from along the way and trying to teach those new to the chronic life. We aren’t made to go through these battles alone!

  3. I love all your advice and hope you have a wonderful trip. Another tip I would add is to take your actual prescription bottle with you and not just the pills. I ran into a situation where I only took enough pills for the 4 days, however due to an emergency health issue with my husband, we ended up staying for 2 weeks! I had to call my doctor back at home to call a local pharmacy. It all worked out, but was kind of a hassle. Thanks for all your good tips.

    • That’s a great point Jill! My parents had a similar situation when a trip to visit my sister in Florida turned into my dad having pneumonia and in a hospital there for almost a month. They had an awful time getting everything filled. Thanks for sharing that tip!

  4. Some really handy tips here. I’m hoping to get out and about and travel a little, just odd day trips really here and there, in the nicer weather when I’m hopefully doing a little better. For me, planning is always important to make sure I feel confident before going anywhere (hopefully without over planning and getting too stressed out!) You’ve made a good point about not skimping on bedtime essentials if going away for a couple of nights, sleep and decent rest is very important!
    Caz x