With the holiday season just around the corner, many of us may be undertaking car journeys, whether that’s to visit family, go Christmas shopping or attend a social function. I often find car journeys really uncomfortable and my pain levels tend to soar during and after car travel. With that in mind, here are some tips which just might help lessen the pain and fatigue impact of car travel.
Plan your Journey
If the journey is unfamiliar to you then it’s worth planning it out, working out if you’ll need to break the journey either with rest breaks or stop overs and making sure that there are places where you can do this.
At times when my pain has been really severe, we’ve had journeys with stops at every motorway service station passed, so that I can get out of the car, stand up and do some stretches in the car park. I might get some funny looks from fellow travellers but if it helps reduce the pain, then I’m ok with it!
Planning can also apply to hours/days before and after the journey and it can help to leave free time prior to setting off and after arriving so that you can get some rest. I find that even if my pain is under control, travelling can make me feel even more tired than usual so I do need this buffer time around a car journey if I’m not to be totally wiped out for days afterwards.
The clothes we wear for the journey are a big part of of our overall comfort. Loose clothing such as jogging bottoms or soft clothes like leggings can help to make you feel comfortable and at ease during the journey.
If you struggle to keep a constant body temperature, which is quite common amongst us fibro folk, then layering clothing is often a good bet. Having a travel blanket or a large scarf /pashmina handy can be a quick way of adding warmth and is much easier (and less painful) to grapple with than a jumper or cardigan when you’re strapped in behind a seatbelt.
Sitting comfortably is also important – there are many different types of cushions, neck pillows etc depending on your own preferences and what your body needs. I swear by a neck pillow attached to the back of the passenger seat as well as a Pilates wobble / stability cushion to take pressure off my spine when sitting for long periods of time and I’d really struggle without these.
Sort your in-car entertainment
Boredom or a wandering mind can amplify pain and so making sure that you have something to entertain you during the journey can help take the edge off this. Whether it’s tuning into a sports commentary, a favourite playlist or an audiobook, keeping your mind occupied can also help the ride pass more quickly.
Gather your Essentials
Making sure that the essentials you need for the trip are ready can decrease any pre-journey stress. These can include prescription and OTC medications, anything that makes you feel more comfortable such as cushions or heat-pads, something to keep you occupied e.g. a book as well as any sleep aids – eyes masks, white noise etc, a phone charger and a supply of food and drink if needed.
After bad weather interrupted a car journey home, forcing us to spend an unscheduled night in a hotel, I always keep an emergency supply of each of my medications in my bag and in the car, just in case. It really wasn’t fun being unprepared without any medication for the night – lesson definitely learnt!
Don’t drive unless you have to
So this is a very obvious one to finish with, but driving can cause us stress, pain and fatigue, so if you do have someone who can drive you to where you need to be, then grab the offer with both hands!
10 thoughts on “5 Tips for Travelling by Car when you have Fibromyalgia”
Planning your journey is very important, it just helps ease the nerves. Thanks for sharing!
Feel free to read some of my blogs 🙂
Thanks for reading and for the comment. Totally agree about planning, if you’re an anxious type anyway then a journey can be stressful enough without adding more stress due to a lack of planning!
Great post, thank you! I find sitting in the car can be so uncomfortable even for short journeys these days. I have invested in hot water bottles, and those heated hand warmers. ✋
Thanks for reading. I hope you find relief with the hot water bottles and hand warmers. Me and my trusty hot water bottle are a bit of a family joke – it’s rarely far away from me even in the height of summer 😀
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These are fantastic tips, Sarah! As a driver, I find I have to have music on so I make sure to come prepared. It just helps me focus better. Most of us will never be able to get properly comfortable but any ways you can improve things just slightly, like you said with pillows and such, is worth it. Regular stops are important – I’ve had to do that on longer journeys, though thankfully I don’t drive lengthy distances very often at all.
If only a bunch of us fibro folk could go on a road trip together, we’d all feel so much more confident and comfortable because we’ll be having to do similar things, like taking bags of meds, getting out the car regularly to stretch because of the pain, being bundled up in blankies etc.
Hi Caz – thanks for the comment. Yes music definitely helps!
Your comment about a fibro road trip has made me imagine a group of us in a minibus which is half filled with pillows, blankets, heat pads etc and of us all pouring out in a service station car park to do a group stretch session – that’d be quite a sight! But certainly would make us feel more confident and “normal” because we have to do such things just to stay relatively comfortable.
Love this helpful post. Car travel with fibromyalgia has been tough for me this holiday! Great suggestions! Thanks, Sarah!
Thanks for the comment and I’m glad you found it helpful. It can be so uncomfortable in the car. I’m sorry that you’ve been suffering with your holiday travel and hope you’re ok again now 🙂
Any travel over 30-45 minutes is painful for me. I feel like someone has beat me with a tire iron. When I am coerced into long trips to the beach or the mountains, my husband puts an inflatable air mattress in the back of the van. I bring lots of pillows and blankets. We have a Pacifica, so the back seats fold down into the floor. I’m not pain free when traveling this way, but it is bearable for me.
Sorry to hear you find travel so painful Pat. That does sound like a great idea though in your van, just to make it bearable at least. Hopefully the change of scenery helps to make the trip a little more worthwhile too.