Travelling abroad & alone with health challenges

Updated: Apr 22, 2019

Greetings from Sunny Spain everyone! As most of my followers are aware, one of the main reasons I came to launch Eva & Alma was due to the learnings, insights and wisdom of healing after trauma and managing chronic illness and invisible disability.


Firstly, I want to start by sharing the following:


* Pre-conditions, I travelled frequently alone so I am used to doing it without fear or anxiety. I just haven’t done it for a long time due to the physical challenges my conditions bring.


* I have spent 8 years healing, getting to understand, know and work with my conditions and how they affect my mind, body and soul. And it's been a DAILY task.


* I have reached a path of acceptance and have drastically changed my life to be able to still feel like I live a fulfilled life despite my health challenges. I know how to listen deeply to my body and rest as much as I can when I can without guilt or shame. So I am confident I can manage my symptoms if I have a flare. I have learnt how to be safe and wait for the flares to pass instead of fighting them.


* I speak fluent Spanish and have driven here numerous times so the area and language is familiar to me (it’s like my second home!). Would I travel to France alone where I don’t know the area or language? I would have done pre-conditions, but now I know it would be too difficult for me to enjoy the trip safely.


The 4 reasons above are why I am able to attempt to travel alone again. And I also feel ready to do it. I don’t see this as a big challenge to prove something to myself or others. But a trip my soul is yearning for and that I feel READY to face. This is important. Sometimes if we are just challenging ourselves to prove a point, it’s not always for the right reason and can cause extra adrenaline to go around the body and create unnecessary anxiety. For me, too much adrenaline now causes my flares so I do things when my instincts tell me I’m ready to do them and in a relaxed environment. No longer as a ‘push through you got this’ mentality (where I lived most of my life and what doesn’t work well with my new found life!).


On top of that, if you’ve been following me for a while, you will know I’m quite the spiritual being so I do refer to The Universe quite a bit. I believe the Universe put me in this position in the first place to wake me up and guide others. I was chosen. But, that’s another story! When I talk about the Universe, if the term doesn’t resonate please feel free to adapt it to what YOU feel is true. For example, your Higher self, soul, God, Gods, Goddesses, The Divine, Angels etc…. All beliefs are welcome here as I work from a place of love and respect. The only thing I don’t like is hatred and judgement of others.


So, the second thing I wanted to share with you is how The Universe totally had my back on this trip. For the reason being that I knew I had to come. I have been guided to do this. I’m only on day 2 of the trip and so far The Universe has helped me with:

* A perfect place to stay which is a quiet village but with everything I need right on my doorstep.

* Putting me on the same flight as my mom & her boyfriend who were also coming away to a different pace for a few days (I didn’t know). So, they helped me with my luggage when I landed in Malaga :)

* Messed up my car rental booking so I was given a much more luxurious and premium car so I was more comfortable to drive (A Range Rover!!!). I only booked a Nissan Duke.


I am writing this from day 2 so I will let you all know again what other exciting stuff happened to help me out whilst I was here.


Right, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. My tips on travelling alone with chronic illness or invisible disability:


1. Always make sure you are comfortable. It costs a lot more to travel with an illness than everyone else. Instead of focusing on how unfair that is - change your mindset to one of gratitude that you have the choice to. I know I cannot afford to travel and pay for extras, I really can’t but you can’t put a price on freedom and happiness. PLUS, the Universe always seems to have my back when I’m doing something right and finds a way of rewarding me financially.

2. Book the extra legroom (if needed), luggage allowance, priority boarding, more comfortable car (in my case an automative SUV! I could have rented a Golf for £60 but I knew I couldn’t travel comfortably so had to pay a lot more), parking right on the airport and not a walk away etc… you have to travel like a rock star when you’ve got health challenges. Just pretend you are one lol!

3. Airports around the UK have started trialing the Invisible Disability lanyards. Do it. It’s really helpful through the airport.

4. Make sure where you are staying has everything you need to support your symptoms. For me, it must be warm, cosy beds and pillows, has a lift and parking right outside (not up a hill either). I cannot be so remote that I feel isolated if I have a flare, but I also need peace and quiet to sleep well (lack of sleep flares my symptoms) so I can function the next day. Don’t be afraid to ask those questions before you book. Knowing you have everything you need before you go helps keep you calm and relaxed during the trip.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Most people want to help you but you have to be brave enough to ask. I asked the guy at my car rental place if he could pop my case in the boot for me and he couldn’t have been nicer to help me.

6. Speaking of cases. I couldn’t get my case out of the boot and into the house I was staying so I left it in the car and just filled a plastic bag with the essentials to take inside (I was super tired when I arrived). I then collected the lighter case the next day when I felt stronger. I would have happily left it in the boot and went out every day to collect a new outfit if I needed to. You just have to think outside of the box.

7. Don’t force yourself to do anything. If you’re not feeling great but you desperately want to go exploring. Don’t go. Have the courage to accept you’re not feeling as well as you would have hoped, take some extra deep self care for the day and wait until you feel better. I know emotionally this can hurt - trust me. But you recover quicker and then are able to explore a little feeling better than you were without causing a potential flare.

8. Pacing. If you live with chronic illness, it’s highly likely your medical team have talked to you about pacing. Pacing is unique to the individual and what triggers your condition, but what I can tell you is this. When going away (especially alone) pacing is EVEN MORE IMPORTANT. You only have yourself to help manage your symptoms so if that sangria is calling you and you know there’s a chance it will trigger a flare or mess with medication - don’t do it. Or if that extra walk to the viewing platform is what you desire when your body isn’t feeling as good as you’d hoped and you need a rest - don’t do it. You don’t have to accomplish everything. Pace, pace and pace. It can be hard when you’re in your room resting and you can hear life happening around you - I get it. But if you want to continue to enjoy being part of that life when you can, you need to pace and rest. That's the toughest part (for me).


I’d love to hear more hints and tips from you if you’ve travelled with health challenges and how you found it. I may even write another blog with everyone else’s hints and tips as inspiration. I hope you find what I've shared helpeful. You can email me your insight to rachael@evaandalma.com.


Lots of love to you all.


Rachael 💖

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