Roughing it with Lupus

Travellers

Ah, nothing beats the open road...Image by Christian Johnstone via Flickr

I’ve been burning all my cylinders lately with several projects of my own going, not to mention helping various family members with stuff of their own. When I heard that one of my favorite teachers from school was doing a Halloween-themed reading, I decided to stake out a little getaway time. I would venture up into the wilds of New Paltz, enjoy a reading, catch up with my old professor, enjoy the mountain scenery and – probably most importantly, get a little peace and quiet.

The trip wasn’t quite as idyllic as I hoped: I arrived in the midst of a downpour and left two steps ahead of the snow storm. Most likely I’ll wait for Spring to go again. Solo trips like these are vastly different then the trips I go on with my mother. While my Mom will steamroll her iron will over everybody in her path, I tend to go more with the flow and rough it a lot more. I’ve learned that traveling with lupus doesn’t always need to mean traveling with more stress (or stuff). Here are a few of the tips and tricks I use for weekend getaways and other short get-up-and-go travels:

  • Think double-duty. I learned this from my free-wheeling hippie father. When I was a tyke he’d always tell me to travel like a gypsy – skirts could be layered for warmth and took up less space in a bag than pants, you should be able to wear layers by themselves as new outfits and never pack anything that only has one use. I’ve managed to travel comfortably with just a backpack by following his advice. Another tip I use is to always pack at least one pair of soft fabric pants (think yoga pants) – the fabric is thin enough to wear under most clothing for extra warmth and I usually wear them as sleeping clothes as well. Plus they’re easy to hand wash and lightweight. So think out of the box when packing and go as light as possible.
  • Bring disposable clothing. I took a pair of old jeans with me upstate and instantly regretted it – they were bar none the heaviest item in my duffel. Since they were really old and beat up, I ditched them in a dumpster before coming back. I got some last use out of them, but wasn’t bogged down with them longer than I needed to be. Unless you need to dress up, take the opportunity to unload some items from your closet that have been gathering dust. You can attempt to trade it with a fellow traveler (this is a good trick in hostels), donate it to a local thrift store (and pick up something new to replace it) or just chuck it.
  • How uncomfortable is too uncomfortable? With Lupus, I know I’m in a state of constant discomfort and pain, so my criteria of what’s too uncomfortable may be different from for others. For me, it’s all about the shoes. If I can walk for extended lengths with a minimum of pain, I can handle just about anything else. Find your biggest Achilles Heel, and plan around it – after all, you want to actually enjoy your trip, right? In my case, it’s packing a pair of Croc shoes – they’re superlight and made of rubber, so I don’t really have to worry much about stains or rips from walking or traveling. And, most importantly, they are super-comfortable. Having them along is well worth the hassle of carrying them.
  • Accessorize! One of the other things I always bring with me traveling is a small blanket. I used to travel with a little fleece airline blanket, but my most recent trip saw me with a big second-hand woven poncho. It has a ton of uses: an extra layer on a sketchy mattress, an extra blanket for a cold room, a picnic blanket for some warm-weather lounging, rolled up for a pillow, etc. Pick something durable, but not too heavy. The poncho was ideal because it was light for its size, but made of warm woven wool. Once spread out, it was roughly the size of a twin blanket and I could wear it as an extra layer of clothing. Ponchos make you cringe? A big warm scarf or shawl will give you similar benefits and are easy to pick up at a thrift store.

Other accessories I like to bring along are travel toothbrushes, hand sanitizer, a big Ziploc bag and a hobo knife (which like a Swiss Army Knife, except with fold out fork, spoon and other eating-friendly items). Items like aspirin or other pain killers, vitamins (especially in the winter when we’re all more prone to infection) can be picked up as needed at any drugstore, but keep in mind that as-you-go costs can pile up.  If you have a big pillbox, it can be used to store those items as well as your usual medication. Pillboxes are also a great space-saving way to store other small items such as safety pins, loose change, spare headphones or ear plugs.

What other tips or tricks do you have to make traveling with lupus easier?

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