Traveling With Chronic And Mental Illness




Travel. It is one of the most indescribable joys of life.


The simple act of getting away from your everyday life can be a major stress reliever. It has been proven that traveling is beneficial for mental health.


Getting to see new sites, encountering a different culture and way of life is a fantastic experience, possibly a life changing event.


You don't even have to go far, a road trip to a nearby city may provide just the diversion needed.


What Travel Means for Me


In my everyday life I like things to be extremely structured and organized, you could say I have a detail orientated personality.


However when I travel I am able to relax and let that go for a while. It is a relief, like a weight being lifted from my shoulders. I return home feeling a bit freer inside my own head.


Just the planning stages of a trip brings excitement. It can also bring a sense of reprieve from the mental turmoil that generally resides in my head. And the pleasant memories that are made can be a bright spot to reflect on I need it most.


Tips for Traveling With an Illness


It must be acknowledged though, if you live with a chronic or mental illness, travel may be a little more difficult for you than for the average person.


Does this mean that you should give up and not even bother? Not at all! There are many things you can do to lessen the strain that traveling may cause.


Here are a few suggestions that I have found to be helpful.


1. Be Realistic


We must recognize our limitations and plan accordingly.


Plan times to rest or decompress. Bring a book or a notepad, something to help you to pass time. Or something that can help you to feel calm if you get overwhelmed.


2. Plan Ahead


Make lists of all you will need, for instance:


  • Medication and supplements

  • Heating pads and/or ice packs

  • Soothing lotions or essential oils

  • Mobility aids, even if you are like me and do not always need a cane or other mobility aid, having one with you can be helpful.


When it comes time to pack double check that you have everything you need to make your trip as painless as possible.


Make any necessary arrangements for handicap accessibility or any other accommodations you may need in advance. I am allergic to down feathers, so I ask the hotel ahead of time to replace all pillows and blankets with down alternatives. You will find that most in the travel industry are willing to be accommodating.


3. Choose the Right Travel Companion


If you go on a trip with someone that expects you to be on the go 24/7, but you are unable to do so, this can lead to frustrations and disappointment all around.


If you are traveling with someone that is not familiar with the way anxiety or other mental illness affects you, it could make things even worse.


Make sure everyone involved is on the same page. Make sure they are willing to work around what you are able to do, and vice versa.


4. Pick the Right Time


If you suffer from a mental illness that makes being around big crowds difficult, choosing the right time to travel can make all the difference.


Try traveling on the off seasons. Pick places that are not overly popular tourist destinations.


When visiting certain attractions, check ahead to see what the most popular days and times are, so that you can avoid a large crowd. Usually a quick internet search can give you this info.




Having a chronic illness may make certain aspect of travel challenging. But we can’t let this stop us from enjoying our lives. We more than anyone need the refreshing and invigorating effects of traveling.


The benefits of travel do not last forever. But that is why it needs to be repeated. Thankfully there are plenty of places to go and lots of sights to see!


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