My Top 10 Tips for Traveling “Smart” with Lyme disease
Many people must travel for Lyme treatment. Unable to find the help she needed in New England, Kate Bowen of Vermont decided to visit a clinic in Arizona. She says just getting there in one piece is half the battle and offers the following advice to others who must travel while chronically ill.
By Kate Bowen
Be willing to pay a little more for a ticket. I know that early mornings wreck my body. Sleep isn’t just a luxury for me, it is a tool in my wellness kit. Factoring in my three-hour drive to the airport, I look for flights that leave after 10 am.
A few days before my trip, I confirm with everyone from the clinic, to the rental car company, to the hotel and the airline. It takes about an hour of calls, but it helps to smooth out any discrepancies. When I call the hotel, I ask for a mini fridge in my room for my medicines and because of my dietary protocol.
Pack your own snacks. Food is medicine and nutritious airport food is hard to come by and really overpriced! I bring shelf-stable, healthy snacks that are easy to eat, not stinky (no one wants a hard boiled egg or herring on an airplane).
Here are some ideas: sea snacks like kelp and dulse are great radiation absorbers. Grass-fed beef jerky, meat sticks, Lara Bars, paleo granola, dried unsweetened cherries, apples or pears (already washed and wrapped in a paper towel), coconut flakes, crackers/cheese, organic popcorn, homemade blueberry muffins.
I also recommend bringing packets of drink powders that supply glutathione, magnesium, and B vitamins. I also like to travel with my own quality tea packets and sliced lemon wedges. You can add those to water you purchase at the airport.
3. Extra meds just in case
Bring extra medications and supplements just in case your flight is cancelled. Probiotics, digestive enzymes, trace minerals, and immune boosters are musts. I put these in snack-size zip-lock baggies and label with a Sharpie marker.
4. Clothing and footwear
Wear comfortable shoes! While I strongly believe in being well dressed, clean, and put together while traveling, you don’t need to hurt your feet in four-inch heels. Clean sneakers and dressing in layers are my go-to choices.
I have a hard time regulating my body temperature, so having the options of a tank top and warm sweater are essential . I also pack an extra shirt, just in case I spill.
5. Accept help when available
Advocate for yourself. If I’m having difficulty walking, I’ll ask for a ride on one of those indoor airport cars. If I feel like I’m going to hold up the boarding line because I’m moving slowly, I politely explain my situation at the gate.
I can’t always be accommodated, but generally people are understanding. My stubborn pride can get me in trouble. I try to remember that getting assistance can often make a huge difference in my symptoms. If you need a wheelchair, or help getting your bag off the conveyor belt, just ask!
6. The importance of water
Stay hydrated. Flying can suck the water right out of you. Days before I fly, I try to stay extra hydrated with celery juice, ginger tea, broth, and water with trace minerals.
I’m not a huge fan of airport water fountains, but if you are on a tight budget, travel with an empty water bottle. If you can find a glass bottled mineral water, go with that. Otherwise, just do the best you can.
Once on the flight, I only drink bottled water or seltzer. You should need to pee about every hour when you’re well hydrated.
7. Fortify your immune system
In the days before travel, I like to get an IV. Either a Meyer’s cocktail full of B vitamins or a high vitamin C concoction. Our local doctor’s office offers them for around $75. They are well worth the effort.
Going to bed early for a few days, skipping sugar and alcoholic beverages, and spending some extra time doing self-care is essential. When you are at the airport you are exposed to so much from viruses to radiation, chlorine in the water, toxic air, to overstimulating lights and sounds.
You can’t control whether the guy who last had your TSA plastic bin washed his hands after he went to the bathroom. But, you can proactively defend your body.
I always thoroughly wipe down every chair and area I eat off of. Proper hand washing habits, eating well, and deep breathing techniques go a long way in warding off illness.
8. Self-care tools
I bring about six different essential oils in labeled roller bottles for my immune system, emotional boosters, headache and upset tummy protectors. I find that I often get a stuffy nose from the aircraft cabin air so the “Breathe” blend is a must.
In a small bag, I bring a lavender hand lotion, lip balm, hand cleaning spray, seat cleaning wipes, and my medicines. I pre-load podcasts and music on my phone and bring an old-fashioned real book!
Throughout the flight, I do some unobtrusive seat-stretching and get up to move at least once to keep my circulation going. I also have a few pressure points I sometimes deploy for stress or nausea issues.
Having some EFT tapping techniques for stress can also be soothing, although unless in a crisis mode, I tend to tap only in a private area, as it looks a bit funny.
9. Miscellaneous other needs
Plan for your weak spots. I got a rental car to get from Sky Harbor to my hotel in Scottsdale. I’m from a town without even one stop light and we don’t have a thing called “traffic.”
Because I am a terrible navigator, I always pre-load destinations into my maps app before I even leave home: the hotel, a nearby Whole Foods, gas station, and the clinic’s GPS address.
While a hotel room with a kitchen costs more, I can save money in the long run if I cook my own meals.
I even pack a few cooking tools in my checked bags: a collapsible colander and cutting board (as any tool used for pasta or bread is contaminated by hard to scrub away gluten!) and a small bag of sea salt and herbs.
I also know I miss home when I’m away, so having things like an essential oil diffuser, a few pictures of home, and cozy slippers helps.
10. Detox routines
Before and after air travel, I find I need to ramp up my detoxification support. Movement is essential and costs me nothing! Getting fresh air and walking, praying, meditating, and stretching are my go-to activities.
While I’m in Arizona, I always enjoy the incredible scenery and sunshine. When I arrive, I stop by a drug store and get a few bags of Epsom salts for nightly baths. (And, yes…I’m weird. I also buy a natural bath tub scrub and clean the hotel tub out first!)
My castor oil packs are easy to travel with. I just pack pre-saturated flannel wrapped in plastic and put it in a zip-lock. This way I don’t have to lug a bottle of castor oil with me.
Dry skin brushing with a natural sea sponge is easy while traveling. At the clinic, I have plenty of time on a Bio-Mat, colonics, and get daily IVs, which also help.
Kate Bowen and her family have a farm in Putney, Vermont.