It is midday on a Monday. I have five days left until my husband and I go on our first trip since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. The trip includes a seven-hour drive (each way), two nights in a strange bed, a birthday lunch and a catch-up with my in-laws. Just one of these activities can cause a flare, so combine all of them into a long weekend and you have a recipe for disaster.
When this long weekend was first suggested, I did what everyone does in 2020. I Googled it. Sadly, I only found about four helpful articles, but all of the suggested products were either unnecessarily expensive or unavailable in Australia. So I made my own list. My travel bag for the mammoth seven-hour drive is compiled from things I either already had or that are easily acquired. Here are eight essential items to make traveling with fibromyalgia easier.
1. Medications and spare scripts
I know this one is super obvious, but if you are experiencing a heavy fibro fog, it is easy to forget things. When traveling with fibromyalgia, I always overpack four things: water, underwear, essential oils and medications. If you have any medications that require government approval, make sure you bring the paperwork. The last thing you want is to be stopped by the police and have to explain the large volume of restricted substances.
2. Medical equipment
Medical equipment can be anything from a walking stick to a portable vape. My personal list of medical equipment for traveling with fibromyalgia includes a TENs machine, walking stick, vape, laptop, phone, smartwatch and portable diffuser. Your list of equipment will be different because you know what you need best.
I am the queen of forgetting chargers, so you can only imagine what happens when you combine this with the medical equipment listed above. I have printed out and laminated a list of my chargers so I can use a whiteboard marker to cross off the ones I have packed for traveling with fibromyalgia.
4. Items to reduce sensory overload
When I have a flare, the world is too loud, bright and busy. If I am at home, my bedroom is a sanctuary that is dark, cool and quiet. Leading up to this trip, I tracked how often I used this dark, cool and quiet space. It was a lot. So when traveling with fibromyalgia, I make sure I have earplugs, headphones, sunglasses and an eye mask nearby to decrease any discomfort.
5. Neck pillow
Before I developed fibromyalgia, a nap in the car would have been unthinkable. Now, if the drive is longer than about 15 minutes, I will fall asleep. Sleeping in the car is not ideal, but when traveling with fibromyalgia, a neck pillow can at least provide your lovely head with some support.
6. Essential oils
For some people (like me) anxiety is a big part of fibromyalgia. When I start to feel anxious, one of the first things I reach for is my essential oils. Essential oils seem to help me relax quicker than anything else I’ve tried, so I always have at least two on hand. My favorite oils are Positive Vibes, Breathe Easy, Happy and Calm and Hug Time.
7. Portable diffuser
It doesn’t matter if I am at home, out for lunch, at the doctor’s or in hospital, chances are I have a diffuser of some kind within reach. There are a few different types you can use. Before buying my mini ultrasonic diffuser, I would use diffuser jewelry. The diffuser jewelry was good if I wanted to use a single oil. You can also use a banksia scent pot.
8. Magnesium spray
I love magnesium. It is the best thing in the world. I have about five different magnesium sprays that each have a different essential oil. I have extremely sensitive skin, so it can be really hard to find a magnesium spray that doesn’t irritate my skin but still provides relief, so I started to make my own. It is really easy to do, all you need is magnesium oil/flakes, water and essential oils. To make a 50ml spray bottle, I mix 35 ml of water, 15 ml magnesium oil (like the one from MgLife) and about 20 drops of whichever oil you fancy (I use the Soothe oil from Dusk). Make sure to shake well before use.