Seven Tips to Stay Healthy When You Travel
After I began to blog I decided to step out of my comfort zone and signed up for my first blogging conference. I was excited about meeting other bloggers. But I also felt extremely anxious. The conference was to be held at a large venue and I’d have to take shuttles between my hotel and the event. This seemed completely daunting.
If your legs decide you’ve had enough before your brain catches up you’re forced to decide between having fun and learning (and risking an exacerbation) versus resting and then feeling left out.
I worked hard to plan all of the logistics of my trip before I left home. I wanted to do my best to keep up with the rigorous schedule of the agenda. But I also wanted to be wise about the choices I’d make.
A little pre-planning goes a long way.
I wrote two posts about attending professional events for anyone living with a disability. The first one was published on BlogHer about attending BlogHer 2013, and the second one was written after the event.
The time has come to plan again. I’m thrilled to be invited, for the second year in a row, to The Consortium of Multiple Sclerosis Center’s annual meeting as their official blogger.
The flight from home to Washington DC is a short one, but any travel fatigues me. I’ll have to do my best to hit the ground running.
There are press conferences, interviews, keynote addresses, educational offerings and exhibits to attend while also having an opportunity to interact with the world’s top doctors, nurses and researchers.
I am honored to be a part of this.
I need to be on top of my game. That means researching the layout of the venue, pre-planning logistics based on the agenda and making sure I’m as healthy as I can be.
Here’s seven tips on attending a large conference. If it helps even one person I’ll be a happy girl:
- Call the hotel – It’s important to check the layout of the hotel. Most layouts can be found on the venue’s website.
- I also call the hotel directly to request a quiet room close to the elevator (less steps).
- Ask for the top floor. If you have sleep issues this helps limit the amount of noise coming from the room above.
- Ask for an accessible room if one is available, and inform them if you have a service animal.
- Ask about self-operating lifts to their pool and if they have an accessible spa entrance. Find out the quickest route to various events.
- Preview the Agenda – It’s necessary to check the agenda before you leave home to plan your day. Using a daily planner to map it out is quite helpful. Be sure to earmark enough time to rest. Make plans within your abilities and don’t over-do it. Be sensible about what you’re able to do.
- De-Stress – Stress can be a factor when traveling. Getting to and from airports and hotels, fulfilling your professional responsibilities while you’re there and maintaining good health during your stay can create anxiety. Learning how to b-r-e-a-t-h-e is an important key toward reducing stress. I meditate five minutes every day. I find it relaxing and restorative. Look for an empty room or closed off area, close your eyes and focus on your mantra. If you want to learn more about meditation click here. Here are a few other ways to help you de-stress.
- Fatigue – This is a big one for me. No matter how much I sleep I never feel refreshed. My body informs me when I need to rest. When I’m at a conference I either go to my room or find a quiet area to relax. Listen to your body. It knows your needs.
- Learn to say NO – I’m fortunate to be affiliated with people at CMSC who understand my disease and tell me to GO REST! Learning to say no can help you stay healthy. Turn down that invitation to a late night cocktail party. Say no to attending every forum on the agenda. Use that time to relax and re-energize.
- Go easy on yourself – No matter how much you prepare for your trip sometimes your body is uncooperative. If this happens be gentle on yourself. If you miss an event it can be disappointing. Instead of having a pity party reward yourself for making a wise choice.
- Take a warm bath. Read a good book. Have a piece of dark chocolate. Call a friend.
- It’s not worth being upset about what you can’t control. What you can control is your perspective.
- Someone once told me to envision placing my troubles into a big bubble and flicking it away. Powerful and it feels so good!
- Ask for Help: There was a tremendous amount walking at the BlogHer conference. My legs buckled and I almost fell. Fortunately there was an exhibit for a mattress company and the exhibitors allowed me to lie on a mattress until I regained my strength.
- Conclusion? If you’re not feeling well speak up, ask for help, and take care of yourself. People are more understanding than you think. There’s no shame in getting help from others.
Having MS doesn’t have to stop you from attending professional events. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of learning what works or doesn’t work for you. Once you know it’s possible it becomes your new normal.