I’ve written in other posts about my need to cut down on travel in 2013. I was on the road every month in 2012 and away from home on average of over a week each month. I love to travel, and I do a lot of it for both work and pleasure. Knowing I needed to concentrate on better managing this disease, I cancelled my 2 week trip to Rincon, Puerto Rico in January. I was heart-broken because I feel like Rincon is my second home. I often think about relocating there, and I usually spend at least 2 weeks in January and over a week in March there. As I sat in Western NY for the holidays, watching the snow literally dump for about a week, I went stir crazy. Everyone who knows me, knows how much I detest winter (which begs the question,”Why do you live in New England, Julie?”). When I returned to the bitter cold Boston area after the first of the year, I decided to book my escape for February.
The trip is fast approaching, and I am strategizing on ways to manage the Fibro and prevent a full-blown flare upon return. Have I mentioned that I am a consultant? Strategizing is second nature to me. Here’s the situation:
1. Problems- I tend to flare most when returning home from travel; I have overnight arrival and return flights; and I am staying in the upstairs unit of the house I usually stay in (I figured stairs were the lesser of two evils because If there were a family or party crew above me, I’d lose sleep).
2. Contributors to travel induced flares include- heavy luggage, long lines, walking long distances in airports while dragging carry-ons, loss of sleep, change of time zones, bad eating habits on the road, the general stress of travel and just pushing myself too hard in the name of fun;
3. Needs Assessment- I need to mitigate the contributing factors to prevent or minimize symptoms from getting out of control;
4. Action Plan-Incoporate strategies that will reduce exhaustion, poor sleep and nutrition habits, increase hydration and better manage physical exertion and limitations.
I really cannot do much about the flight schedules for the week that I am flying. I always fly into the small airport in Aguadilla, which is about 40 minutes north of Rincon. The majority of the arriving flights come in between 1am and 4am. Jet Blue did start working with Cape Air to provide connecting flights from San Juan to Mayaguez (about 20 minutes from Rincon) at more reasonable hours. However, these flights were outrageous this time of year (like 3 times more expensive than more already steep ticket). I did get a hotel close to the Aguadilla airport when I arrive at 4am. I’ve done that in the past, and it helps. I have also gotten better about sleeping on the plane ( probably because of the CFS thing!). I have my extra- legroom seats and access to a club lounge during the layovers in Laguardia, and I plan on spreading out the best I can. So, it is what it is.
I called a friend down there to tell him when I’d be getting into town and asked for help getting my luggage and groceries upstairs. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my luggage. I always wear the same things when I am there, but pack like I’m never coming home (Freudian-perhaps?). This time I have to get everything into a small rollerboard that is not too heavy. Since my shoe options have been significantly limited due to Fibro pain, I’m thinking I can definitely swing it. I will check that bag right away, and bring a small carry on bag.
I am going to take more advantage of the great kitchen at the house, and cook more WHOLE30 approved breakfasts and lunches to help with dietary needs. I’m generally pretty good about dinners there because I end up having fantastic fresh seafood and fresh veggies. Breakfast is my downfall and lunch can get sketchy if I lay on the beach for too long without eating. So- no mas panaderías and no mas empanadas off of the great food truck near the beach .
When it comes to physical activity, this is where I push myself too hard. I love paddle boarding. I own a great 11ft Jimmy Lewis board that I take out at the beach around the corner from me here at home. Unfortunately, I could not muster the strength this summer to use it more than 3 times. Given I am just starting to rebuild my physical activity levels after a tough 2012, I have to accept that this may not be happening for me on this trip. If I do think I can swing it, I will have to limit myself to a couple of days (at most) for no longer than 20-30 minutes and only in flat water. I also will have to have somebody carry the board to the beach for me (they are heavy and big, and my 5″1 frame struggled to carry those boards before Fibro was part of the equation).
Surfing is out. Not much to say about that other than I love it and will miss it. I’m too weak to handle paddling out right now, and I’m not willing to risk drowning. I should note here that I’m not a good surfer anyways. I just really enjoy it ( when not being tossed around like a rag doll). I have not made any decisions on Scuba or snorkeling yet.
I won’t be out dancing until 4am. That’s no longer my scene. I’m very comfortable just chillin out on a bar stool. I just have to be comfortable saying goodnight when I’m tired and have a good sense of humor when others are trying to convince me to “buck up.” I quit drinking a couple of years ago because I noticed a direct correlation between alcohol and pain and exhaustion. I miss my Malbec wine and Amstel Lights, but the alternative is really just too painful. Although people were very curious when I consistently ordered soda water and a splash of cranberry last year (“No- I’m not in recovery.” ”Yes- one little drink does sound good, but I’m REALLY fine with my soda water.” ”No thank you; I don’t need a shot”), I think we have moved past that. I came out of the closet to folks over the summer.
Aside from all of the above, I know I just need to really pace myself, take frequent breaks, and accept that this is part of my life. No apologies and no embarrassment!
Now I’m looking for travel tips from you all. What types of things do you do to prevent problems when traveling? Oh- and any bathing suit top tips? Does anyone else find them really painful to wear? BTW- going topless is NOT an option.
- 10 Caribbean destinations you can afford (usatoday.com)
- Vacation Spotlight on: PUERTO RICO (cmoneyspinner.wordpress.com)