Vacation Isn't Always Easy: Tips For Your Summer Trip

As summer approaches, one thing we have to face with our MS is the heat, but I don’t think most of us take into consideration the other stresses that summer can bring. One of those is something that doesn’t bring any stress at all to others, but unfortunately can bring an added stress to those fighting this disease…

Going on vacation

Vacation is supposed to be about letting go of your everyday stresses and allowing relaxation and a much needed break from the outside world. But, it’s not that easy with Multiple Sclerosis. It doesn’t matter how relaxing or amazing the destination or the length of time we are there, our Multiple Sclerosis and its symptoms follow us wherever we go. It’s not something we can just overlook, forget to put in our suitcase and leave at home when we go on vacation.

I love vacation! It’s something I’ve anxiously awaited every year since I was young. I am all about getting out of town and going on a new, fun adventure! However, traveling with MS isn’t always rainbows and unicorns. It can create a lot of stress and cause your symptoms to reappear. As much as I love a good vacation, it’s as if when I get back from my trip that I need to have another mini vacation at home to recover from the real vacation. Oh, the joys of this disease *cue sarcasm*.  My years with MS and vacations have given me some wisdom when it comes to traveling with the ever present monster we have lurking in our midst. I wanted to share a few pieces of advice I have when it comes to traveling and even recovering afterwards.  I’m preparing to go on vacation soon, so I wanted to write these out to remind myself too, not to overdo it! I know none of us want to miss out on any fun or the chance to make memories with our friends and loved ones. I hope these help so that missing out won’t have to be an issue!

Try not to stress

A lot easier said than done, I know. Planning vacation is stressful, I don’t care who you are. There’s planning where you’re going, all of the activities you want to do while there, planning transportation, hotels, etc. Oh, and don’t forget the budget! Then you have to plan things for the kids and everything else. On top of all of that, you may need to plan ahead to have prescriptions filled and prepare for traveling with an illness. That’s stressful on its own! If planning the upcoming vacation is going to cause you more harm than good, I suggest letting another family member take the lead. With technology the way it is today, you can even simply Google “travel planner” and thousands of sites pop up to help you easily plan your trip. If packing is your big stressor, then let your family help with that too! If they know what you go through and love you, I guarantee they’ll do everything in their power to help so that your vacation can truly be as relaxing for you as possible! Asking for help used to be one of my weaknesses. I hated having to ask for extra help, because I didn’t want people to think I was incapable of being able to do things on my own. BUT, I’ve learned the hard way that being stubborn and NOT asking for help when you need it is actually worse than asking for help in the beginning. Asking for help just shows you’re strong enough and smart enough to realize that getting help in the first place gives you more energy and stamina for the long run. And, when going on vacation, that’s greatly needed!

Make sure to rest!

It’s not going to matter how much rest you get leading up to your trip, with MS fatigue comes when it pleases. Days on vacation are usually packed chock full with family activities and things you want to get done before you leave. I have to remind myself that while I can do all of the activities, if I don’t let myself rest and take time to recover after a busy day of fun then the rest of the time I’m on vacation I will be miserable. And, if you know fatigue is going to hit suddenly and without warning, make sure to let your family/friends know that you need to take it easy that day. You can even let them know that you’ll need to hang around the hotel or place of lodging for a little while in case you need to go in and recover before the next activity. As hectic the business of vacation can be, it’s not worth it to over exhaust yourself. Remember to pace yourself and rest! Not everything has to be done in one day. Also, if you take the time to rest while you're on vacation, you won't have to take as much time when you get back home to recover! Traveling does tend to wear me out, so this is an important tip for me!

Keep cool!

The majority of the vacations I’ve been on include a lot of walking and a lot of heat and/or humidity. Utilize the shaded benches and areas as much as possible! Drink lots of water and avoid hot tubs. As relaxing as they may be for most, for us they can just cause unneeded issues! You'll also find the cooler you keep that the more energy you have! MS is such an ugly cycle, one yucky thing causing another.

Those are the issues I struggle with the most, so I wanted to really focus on those 3 key points. I want encourage you to avoid stress as much as possible, rest up before, during and after, and of course, stay cool! Avoid the heat if possible. I also want to remind you that if the place you’re vacationing has special provisions and things for people with disabilities and you need them, take advantage of that! There is no shame in using those services to make your stay easier and more pleasant! Sometimes it's utilizing services like those that make vacation much more doable. Also if you struggle with sensory overload try your best to avoid places with large crowds, it’s just not worth it! Overall, I want to remind you that your vacation is meant to be a place to relax and unwind, not to overdo it and be miserable.  I hope these tips can help you on this summer’s vacation! And, I hope each of you are able to actually relax and unwind, wherever it may be! XOXO.

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