Choosing the mode of transportation that will get you to your vacation destination without too much additional pain


So far this month I have shared tips for choosing your vacation destination, adjusting our expectations, and how to pack for our illnesses.  Today I want to help you choose how to arrive at your destination without too much additional pain.  The form of transportation we choose can either improve or ruin our vacation experience.

Plane, train, or automobile?

There are pros and cons to all modes of transportation.  My favorite way to travel is by automobile.  Depending on the size of the vehicle I can not only bring my wheelchair but also my walker for times when I feel up for walking around.

Traveling by car permits me to bring along most if not all of the items that provide comfort, items like my favorite weighted blanket, foam pillows, fan, heating pad, lotions, etc.  If the vehicle has heated seats I don’t have to dip into my heat wrap stash as often.

In addition to being able to recline my seat, I can request that my husband stop the car anywhere I want in order to get out and stretch my legs and back muscles.  The only downside to traveling by automobile for me is the additional days that need to be added to my trip when my destination is more than a day’s drive away. Additional expenses with this mode of transportation include nightly lodging and meals.

Flying is great when I don’t have the extra time to drive to my destination. However, that is about all it is good for.  Airline seats are not comfortable and put unnecessary pressure on my hips, tailbone, and spine.

A three-hour flight often increases my pain more than two days in a car.  My hope is to fly first class someday to see if that makes a difference, but right now I am not ready to gamble my money to find out.  Besides uncomfortable seats, my legs are stuck in a seated position which pinches the area in which I have permanent nerve damage and it sets off a firestorm of nerve pain.  All of this equates to my having to medicate heavier than I would if I were traveling by car.

Flying limits the number of comfort items I bring along.  I have to choose one mobility aid to use throughout my trip.  In my case, I usually bring my wheelchair and use it as a walker when I want to walk.  Another issue with flying is bringing along my natural medication.  I will be discussing this subject next week.

Personally, the only perks to flying, in my opinion, are spending less time traveling and getting to board the plane first.  To make flying a little less unpleasant I slap a heat wrap on my back and neck.  I bring a neck pillow and earphones to listen to music or watch a movie.  If the pain in my tailbone becomes unbearable I will sit on my neck pillow to take the pressure off of it.  Most importantly I medicate for pain and anxiety before boarding, because the last thing I want is to have a pain induced anxiety attack while in the sky.

Download relaxing music or your favorite movies to drown out the noise and to help keep you calm.

While I have never traveled by train it is something that I hope to try someday.  Several of my relatives and friends enjoy traveling by train.  Listening to their stories has helped me know how I should do it if I ever have the opportunity.

The only way I will ever travel by train is if I were to reserve a sleeper cabin. Here is why: No one has to drive, I can lie down or stand and stretch whenever I want, and there is no need to unpack the vehicle at a hotel each night.  This seriously sounds like heaven to me.  Not to mention getting to see parts of the country that I wouldn’t even have had a chance to had I traveled by car.

Traveling by train would mean that I could bring more of my comfort/care items than if I were flying, but still not as much as if I were traveling by automobile.  The downside to traveling by train is TIME.  If on schedule it could be faster than driving, but depending on the weather and issues with debris on the tracks it could also take much longer.  So far I have yet to have one person who has come to visit me via train arrive when they were supposed to.  All were delayed for one reason or another and arrived anywhere from one to three days later than planned.

When choosing how to get to your vacation destination consider these three things; how much time do you have, which mode of transportation best fits your needs, and how much money are you willing to spend.

Related posts: Packing for your invisible traveling companions, Choosing a vacation destination that suits your needs, and Unrealistic vacation expectations.

Published by Cynthia Covert

Diagnosed in 2001 with psoriasis, followed by fibromyalgia, psoriatic arthritis, endometriosis, and later a botched hysterectomy turned her world upside down. Cynthia shares her experience, advice, and tips for how to make life with chronic pain easier and less painful.

6 thoughts on “Choosing the mode of transportation that will get you to your vacation destination without too much additional pain

  1. I agree – I fly when it’s too far to drive – ie more than a days worth of travel, but I make sure to oil up and protect myself against all the crud you get exposed to on the plane.

  2. I traveled by train a lot in Germany, and I found it to be very comfortable and stress free. No road rage or arguing about driving speeds!

  3. Definitely agree with all the points! Hate flying and just focus on the end destination :p Cars are relaxing to me, and long distance train rides are really pleasurable. Even if the train isn’t a modern one, I enjoy just lying down nd watching the world go by 🙂

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