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Travel can feel overwhelming with chronic pain

Travel can feel overwhelming with chronic pain. Here are some tips to keep your pain in check during your getaway.

Vacations are not necessarily restful. There is always more we want to see, eat, and experience. Just when we think we’re finally content, Instagram sneaks us a new reel that sends us on an urgent new mission. Sometimes, we are so sleep-deprived that we need a vacation when we return from our vacation. But travel can be all the more exhausting with a health condition that causes chronic pain.

I used to be a restless nomad who was quick to pack and slow to miss home. But severe pain, neuralgia, and digestive issues from endometriosis—a pelvic condition that affects the entire body—has made travel more daunting. A heap of symptoms can be tough to bear on a typical Tuesday, let alone when hauled overseas. Every decision I make, from baguettes to beaches, has me considering its consequences as I learn to balance ambition and ability. Like many disabilities, chronic pain is difficult enough to manage in the security of our environment and daily routine. Is it even possible to travel comfortably to a foreign place with an unpredictable condition? Here are 10 practices that help keep pain at bay so you can enjoy your getaway.

1. Check Your Destination’s Accessibility

Preparation helps mitigate the anxiety that comes with unpredictability. Before you go, get familiar with your surroundings. How accessible is your destination? Are there endless stairs or hills to climb? Is there air conditioning to revive you from scorching heat? Locate pharmacies, markets, transportation, and clinics near your accommodation. Consider your room’s amenities: will you have a private bathroom and space to do your exercises? Are check-in and check-out times flexible to help you conserve energy? Look up whether beaches have bathrooms and other services that may be important for managing your condition. To the extent possible, choose a destination or accommodation where you would feel supported if you’re having an off day.

2. Plan for Pain

Booking travel is exciting. It’s tempting to imagine feeling our best and conquering our itinerary with ease, but the reality is that any change in routine can cause a chronic condition to flare, so it’s a good strategy to plan ahead for pain. When possible, select flexible bookings or refundable fares. Make sure you have health insurance. Choose activities that you’d be able to do on a moderate-to-high pain day, not just on your best day. Check in early for your flight to give yourself extra time. Book seats on your train in advance and consider how far you’ll have to walk down the platform or train car to access it. Invest in lightweight luggage with good wheels—your body will thank you.

3. Have All Your Essentials

Packing light is not always possible with an illness or disability, but packing smart is. Picture a bad day: what will you crave? Refill your medications and vitamins before you leave and store them in their original packaging with information on the prescription and dosage, as some medications (like narcotics) might require approval at customs. Pack your favorite clothes and comfortable shoes, and other soothing items you rely on to prevent or recover from flares and fatigue, like heat packs, essential oils, or compression socks. Use packing cubes or airtight bags to squeeze as much as you can in your luggage but keep your must-haves (including your medications) in your carry-on.

4. Know Your Triggers

Self-awareness is key to managing physical, mental, and emotional wellness. We all know our limits (though sometimes we ignore them). Pay attention to your triggers—foods, scents, boat rides on choppy seas, sitting for hours, being on the move all day, not having regular access to a bathroom, late nights, sun exposure… Check in with yourself regularly, even when you think you feel fine, to make sure you are honoring your needs and your body’s distress signals.

5. Pace, Don’t Push

So, you’ve made your itinerary. Great! Now, make a more realistic one. Give yourself breathing room before, during, and after your trip. If you plan excursions, space them out with a low-key day in between so you can linger and recharge. Leave days in your itinerary where you can eliminate the pressure of “doing” and focus on “being.” Consider the timing of your flights or other transport. Will you have to rush to make your connection? Are you leaving yourself enough time to settle back into your rhythm before returning to work? Avoid compromising on sleep (or, at least, not several days in a row).

6. Cultivate Calm

Chronic pain is very real and not “in our head,” but the brain plays a part in how it recognizes, amplifies, and attenuates it. Pain is a nervous system response to a threat, which means stress does play a role in triggering or heightening our pain. It’s a painstaking process to unlearn our fight-or-flight impulses and coax our nervous system out of crisis mode. Mindful travel helps create calm. Slow your pace. Make time to observe your surroundings. Ground yourself with your feet in the sand or deep breaths in a green space. Disconnect from your devices and refrain from documenting. Put your fork down between bites and tune your ear to local dialogue. Pay attention to where you are holding your tension—are your shoulders, jaw, and fists relaxed? Are you holding your breath? Honor your nervous system as you go about your day, so it can lower its guard and unwind.

7. Remember It’s Not All or Nothing

Our brain loves to categorize our options into either-ors and this-or-thats, but there’s an in-between space filled with relief and wonder—we just have to lean into it. To alleviate the emotional distress that comes with chronic pain, gently challenge yourself to think of an in-between option. Stay out late or stay in? Why not go for a bit and duck out early? Eat the food you’ll regret or spend the evening alone? Why not eat earlier on your own but join them for a drink? They’re all biking but you don’t feel up to it? Meet them there with an uber. It’s not always possible to find a workaround, but it’s almost always possible to reframe the black-or-white thinking.

8. Be Honest With Your Travel Companions

Traveling with others—even people we love—can be tricky. All travelers pack their own expectations and personality traits, which can create tension. It might make you feel vulnerable to be open about your condition or wellness needs, but it helps manage expectations. Communicate your preferences and limitations with your travel companions; tell them about your ideal rhythm and budget, activities you can’t do, foods you can’t eat. Agree to split up, meet up, and fill up when needed. Travel becomes even more beautiful when travelers hold space for their individual differences without judgment or resentment.

9. Pack Your Self-Forgiveness

There is certainly grief in not being able, or in not being as able as before. We can’t control how we feel, but we can do our best to recalibrate. Give yourself grace to exist as you are at any given moment, instead of harping on how (or where) you wanted to be. Practice reframing your mindset. Replace “I wasted the day” with “I rested today” or “I chose myself today.” And drop the guilt! Show yourself the inclusivity and empathy you’d want others to show you. A dose of self-forgiveness can feel incredibly refreshing.

10. Ask for Help

We are so conditioned to be independent and productive that we often hesitate to ask for help. Many of us think we don’t deserve accommodations and feel ashamed to ask for them. But a little help can go a long way in improving our day. Ask for pre-boarding if you need extra time, or for a wheelchair if you’re feeling unsteady. Ask for assistance to lift your luggage into the overhead bin, or for a corner where you can stretch during a long flight. It’s okay to ask for a seat on public transportation, even if your illness is invisible to others.

Though it can feel overwhelming to leave the comfort of home when your wellness depends on it, with some careful planning, self-awareness, and communication, your trip can do you a world of good.

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Tips For Students To Travel The World On A Budget

Travelling on a budget requires careful planning and discipline. Keep track of your expenses, look for free or low-cost activities, and be open to spontaneous adventures

As a student, the world is your classroom, and what better way to expand your horizons than by travelling? While it’s true that students often operate on a tight budget, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on incredible travel experiences. You can explore the world without breaking the bank with careful planning and a few savvy strategies. Here, we share some valuable travel tips for students looking to embark on budget-friendly adventures.

Plan And Budget Thoroughly

Research your destinations and create a detailed budget. Consider accommodation, transportation, food, activities, and unexpected expenses. Look for budget-friendly countries and regions where your money can spent wisely.

Travel Off-Peak

Avoid travelling during peak tourist seasons when prices for accommodations and flights are at their highest. Consider travelling during shoulder or off-seasons when you can find deals and enjoy fewer crowds.

Use Student Discounts

Take advantage of your student status. Many museums, attractions, and transportation services offer discounted rates for students. Get an International Student Identity Card (ISIC) to access additional discounts.

Book In Advance

Plan your itinerary and book flights, accommodations, and significant activities to secure better prices. Look for deals on flight comparison websites and consider flexible travel dates for lower fares.

Optimise Accommodations

Stay in budget-friendly accommodations like hostels, guesthouses, or budget hotels. Consider alternatives like Airbnb or CouchSurfing for unique and cost-effective lodging options.

Make Friends With Locals

Getting to know locals while travelling can be incredibly beneficial. It helps you learn about the place’s culture and some language skills.

Cook And Eat Local

Save money on food by eating at local markets, street stalls, and affordable restaurants. If your accommodation has a kitchen, occasionally cook your meals to cut down on dining expenses.

Use Public Transportation

Instead of expensive taxis or rental cars, use public transportation, such as buses and trains. Consider walking or biking to explore a city, which can save money and provide a more immersive experience.

Travel Light

Pack light to avoid checked luggage fees and make it easier to move around. Use a versatile and durable backpack. Remember that travelling on a budget requires careful planning and discipline. Keep track of your expenses, look for free or low-cost activities, and be open to spontaneous adventures.

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How To Prepare For Skydiving: Top 7 Tips

Curious how to prepare for skydiving? It can be hard to think about the preparation needed for an experience of a lifetime where you step out of an airplane in flight. It might seem like that particular act of skydiving is something for which you can’t do anything to ready yourself. because it is so far removed from your daily life. But, that’s why you’re even doing it, right?

Take it from the source, if you will. When this author went for her first tandem skydive, absolutely no preparations whatsoever were made. I walked up to the first dropzone I saw (in South Africa, where I was traveling at the time), having done no research at all, not having had any breakfast, tired from a late night the night before, wearing non-freefall-friendly clothes, and totally unsure of what to expect. Oh–and I *didn’t* get photos. Or a video. I fell in love with skydiving that day–and everything went fine–but believe me when I tell you that I wish I’d done everything differently.

Here’s what I learned from *my* experience. It might help you with your skydiving preparation.


Take a few minutes to read other peoples’ reviews. They’re very telling. If I’d read the reviews written about the dropzone where I bumbled up for a jump, I would have known that the unprofessionalism I experienced was totes normal–and that other places operated very differently.

I also would have discovered that it was not a United States Parachute Association affiliate. USPA-affiliated dropzones all over the world follow a certain set of guidelines for safety and professionalism that keep tandem students safer. Note, Skydive Monroe is certainly one of these dropzones.


Skydiving on an empty stomach is no fun. Skydiving on a full stomach is no fun, either. My empty stomach made my (totally normal) nervousness way worse; something about that vacant, rattly gut feeling is absolutely the wrong thing for a skydive. Do yourself a favor and make sure to eat a balanced meal before arriving at the dropzone. It would be wise to take a few snacks along with you, just in case there’s a wait.


I was so nervous the night before my first skydive that I didn’t sleep a wink. In the years since I’ve learned that this is a very normal phenomenon. If I could do it again, I’d take the same precautions against insomnia that I’d take during the nervous night before any big life event. Because, a first skydive is, make no mistake, a very big life event indeed!


Wondering what to wear to the skydiving dropzone? I was wearing a loose-fitting shirt and shorts when I made my jump, and the dropzone I visited didn’t have a jumpsuit to lend me. This made for a chilly jump, with my shirt trying to run away from me by whatever means it could devise. Since then, I’ve learned that the best way to approach a skydive is to dress in close-fitting layers. If you’re offered a jumpsuit, treat that as a solid favor–it’ll keep the fabric of your clothing in check, and prevent any grass stains from cramping your style.


Ask the dropzone for a general timeline of your experience, from when you arrive to when you land from your jump. It’ll help you relax to know what’s coming next and when–relaxation is key. Take time to breathe deeply and visualize the process to calm jangling nerves. This will help you mentally prepare for your skydive.


Of everything I did wrong the day I made my first skydive, this is the one that stings the most. The first video I have of myself in the sky is the day I did my first AFF training jump because I was required to have a video for that. If I’d had any foresight before I hopped into the plane for that first tandem, I’d know that there would be no moment like that first jump ever again. I’d love to look back on that version of myself and see that terrified face with the life that was about to change–but the decision I made than is made, and, suffice it to say, there’s no video to smile at. It’s my hope for you that you’ll make a different one. For your first tandem jump, make sure to invest in the skydive pictures and video footage. It is so worth it!


This is by far the best advice I can give you. Breathe, deeply and often, from the moment you land at the dropzone all the way to your hootin’, hollerin’ landing. It’ll help you get the very most out of your jump. Remember: You’re not the first to be scared, and you won’t be the last.

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3 Tips to Be a Fitness Freak When Traveling

I just returned from a three-day conference.

While there, I was shocked at the number of conversations I overheard and the number of people who mentioned to me (perhaps knowing I am a fitness “guru”) how much fitness they lose while traveling, participating in multi-day conferences, and jetting to and from in planes, trainsn and automobiles without access to their normal daily workout routine or health club.

But I beg to differ. I’m not saying this to brag, but rather to give you a personal example. As a guy who is on the road for an average of two weeks out of every month, I manage to:

Maintain 3% body fat at 180 pounds of mostly muscle

-Compete in some of the most difficult races on the face of the planet

-Get sick an average of once every 3 years

-Squeeze 60-90 minutes of exercise and movement into every busy day

-Return from many days of travel across multiple time zones with zero jet-lag

You get the idea. So how do I do it?

1.    Make the Airport a Gym

No, you don’t have to drop and do push-ups outside the Delta lounge, or perform head-turning, embarrassing burpees at the gate while waiting for your plane to depart. Instead, you can try a few of my personal tips:

-Don’t sling your bags across your shoulder. Instead, hold them in your hands to work on grip strength.

-Duck into the stall of the bathroom and do 50 body weight squats

-Take stairs. Always. No escalators, ever (unless there aren’t any stairs)

-Don’t sit while waiting for your plane to board. Either walk, stand or find a quiet corner and do calisthenics like jumping jacks and body weight squats or stretches that move lymph and blood flow, like arms swings and leg swings.

-While standing in line at security, to board the plane, to get a coffee, etc. always be doing toe raises, arms curls with your bags, knee dips or squats and any other movement you can muster. Don’t worry: there will be plenty of time waiting for your plane to leave the ground for you to do any last-minute phone checks.

2.  Exercise Upon Arrival

Exercising when you get to your final destination is one of the best ways to beat jet lag and establish a normal circadian rhythm (the other ways are via exposure to natural light and eating at the set meal time for the destination you’re traveling to).

And yes, I’m just like everybody else: I find exercise to be difficult when I get done with a long day of travel. My body is stiff, my eyes are tired and all I really want to do is flop on the hotel bed and flip on the TV.

But here’s a few of my key secrets to making exercise happen anyways:

-Get through the first 2 minutes of exercise and it all gets easier from there, probably due to the fact that 2 minutes is about how long it takes for your body to switch from an anaerobic non-oxygen utilizing mode to an aerobic oxygen utilizing mode. So I suggest beginning with something relatively passive and easy that tricks your body into getting through those first 2 minutes, such as jumping jacks, walking on a treadmill, treading water in a pool, etc. Trust me, starting with heavy squats or burpees is much more difficult than easier options.

-Have a plan. On the plane, for example, I’ll jot down on a piece of paper what I will do when I get to my hotel, such as:

-2 minutes jumping jacks

-10 pushups

-20 squats

-30 mountain climbers

-40 vertical jumps

-Repeat 5x

-Reward yourself. I’ll often avoid eating any snacks, food, meals, mini-bar indulgences or anything else until after I’ve done my workout, but I do promise myself that if I can simply get through a 30 minute workout after arriving at my destination, I’ll treat myself to a walk over to a local restaurant that ranks high on Yelp or Trip Adviser, or make a trip to the hotel pool for 15 rewarding minutes in the hot tub with a newspaper and a glass of wine. You get the idea: give yourself a carrot on the end of a stick.

If it’s written down and outsourced to a piece of paper, I’m far less likely to succumb to decision making fatigue, and far more likely to simply set my bags down in my hotel room and get it done.

3.  Use Google Maps

As soon as I get to my hotel or AirBNB or wherever else I’m staying, I open Google Maps and plug in my lodging address. I then use the “Search Nearby” function to identify the following

-Gyms & Health Clubs: any of these often have very affordable guest pass rates or, if you visit the gym’s website, free guest passes you can print or put on your phone to get you a complementary visit to the facility. These facilities are often far, far better and more equipped than a hotel gym.

-Pools: Local city pools, YMCA pools, health clubs with pools and any other pools give you water to exercise in. When combined with the fact that I always travel with goggles and an underwater .mp3 player in my travel bag, this allows me to get instant access to lap swimming, water running, underwater breath holding routines and all my favorite water workouts.

-Parks: the oxygenation from plants and trees, therapy from nature, green and plant aromas, sunlight, and fresh air can make the overall “blah”, stale feeling a body often has during travel to simply melt away. A brisk walk through a local park is something that can easily be mixed with dips and pushups on park benches, burpees, short sprints, pull-ups from tree branches or mini-yoga sessions.

You get the idea. With just a few habits and systems worked into your travel routine, you don’t need to be the person whose body gets wrecked every time you go to a conference, event or other travel obligation. Instead, there’s no excuse not to arrive back from a bout of travel even more fit than when you started!

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