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!