Endometriosis and Travel
By Phuong Tran
One of my passions in life is travel. I have been fortunate enough to visit over 20 countries in the last two years, with plenty more still on my list to be ticked off. I was first diagnosed with Endometriosis two years ago and actually had my laparoscopic surgery the day after I got back from a holiday in Hawaii. The holiday I had planned was quite active, with lots of hiking, exploring and adventure. But because a cyst was discovered prior to my trip I was advised to ‘take it easy’ and ‘not go too hard’ just in case the cyst were to rupture before the surgery. I am pretty fortunate not to have any debilitating Endo symptoms that negatively interfere with my life and am still able to live without limitations. However, when I do travel I have to be extra prepared. It doesn’t matter if they are short week-long holidays, longer two month holidays, or in my current case, moving overseas; the preparations are still the same. Here are my top tips for travelling with Endo.
Pack your medication
This is a lot easier if you are only going away for a couple of weeks, but it can get a bit more complicated when you’re travelling for a longer period of time. Make sure you have enough prescription medication to cover your entire trip, as well as any over the counter medication you use such as anti-inflammatories. Or if you don’t want to overpack on over the counter medication, look for the nearest pharmacy near your accommodation. For any prescription medication, if it’s in bulk, ask your doctor to write you a letter to confirm the medication is for personal use. On my way to London, I stopped over in Northern Africa and spent 3 weeks in Egypt and Morocco. I had a years worth of oral contraceptive pills on me, so I had a letter from my doctor written up in case I was stopped at customs, which luckily I wasn’t. Tell your doctor you’re travelling This applies more for longer trips, but can also apply for shorter trips depending on the severity of your symptoms. For longer trips or relocations, ask your specialist to write a referral letter and see if they recommend any specialists in your new location. If possible, also get them to give you a copy of your medical report so you can pass this information onto your new doctor. Research your surroundings If you’re staying at a hotel, hostel or Airbnb, jump onto google maps and research the nearest doctors office and pharmacies in case you need a top on up any medication you’ve under packed, lost or forgotten. If you’re travelling with a tour group, let your guide know, as they are trained to know where all the nearest hospitals and pharmacies are located.
Pack for comfort
When you’re travelling, you never know what will happen. You’ll want to take your nice going out clothes, but make sure you also pack comfortable clothes that make it easy for you to move around, to cover that horrid Endo bloat, your cute undies that aren’t too restricting and comfortable walking shoes. There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable AND sore. Pack a heating pad or hot water bottle For those horrid cramps that sometimes come on out of the blue, heat actually loosens and soothes the muscles, which can help with cramps. Just be careful not to take your hot water bottle as a carry-on, as it will be thrown out or emptied out at the security check.
This is so important; keep hydrated! Hydration is so important, not just for reducing cramping and bloating, but to maintain body temperature, prevent headaches, and maintain other bodily functions. When I travel, I make sure to keep a water bottle with me at all times. You can purchase a reusable water bottle and refill it when needed, just make sure your bottle is empty before you go through security!
Get enough sleep
Endo symptoms can feel worse when you’re tired. Sleep is important for your body for rest and recovery. If you’re constantly tired, your body may experience some metabolic or hormonal changes which can increase inflammation and pain. Whenever I’m on holidays, I always sneak in a cheeky nap because let's be honest, travelling can sometimes feel like a full time job!
Eat well when you’re travelling
Especially when you’re road tripping or you’re not game enough to try the local delicacy, it can be pretty tempting to stick to what you know or what’s convenient, such as burgers, chips, pizzas and pasta. Try to include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables where you can, and opt for healthier options when eating out. Because Endo is a chronic inflammatory disorder, you’ll want to try to keep away from foods that cause inflammation, such as deep fried or processed foods.
Holidays are when you should be at your most relaxed, but sometimes it can be stressful. You’re in a new place, the street signs don’t make sense, you might not speak the language, nobody is helping you or you don’t know how to get to your destination. These can all be very stressful situations, especially when you’re in a foreign country or outside of your comfort zone. Personally, I start stressing the minute I see the same purple luggage with pink polka dots pass me by on the carousel more than twice at the airport and mine is still nowhere to be seen! But stress can negatively influence your immune system and potentially exacerbate your Endo symptoms, so try to take deep breaths and not let those things take over.
Exercise helps you maintain your weight and provide you with energy to enjoy your holiday. It doesn’t have to be 45 minutes at the gym, it can be as simple as going for a walk along the beach or through those crazy market bazaars!
Enjoy the moment Girl, you’re on holidays, how exciting! Enjoy every moment of it, have the best time, don’t let those symptoms get you down. Have a blast and go home refreshed and relaxed, and make everyone totally jealous with your amazing holiday snaps and stories!
I hope these tips help you maximise your travels as much as it has mine!
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