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I Want To Travel, But
I Have a Difficult Medical Problem

30 May 2016 | Mri Grout - A Lifelong Vagabond

First of all, I just want all my readers to know that I too have a number of medical problems that are a right pain in the behind. I know I don’t touch on them much when I write my travel blogs, just mention them here and there in a casual way, because I don’t want them to define who I am and what I’m doing. I don’t want to be shamed more than I already am, questioned about why I’m not letting some doctor ‘fix’ me instead of seeing the wonders of the world. I don’t want to be pitied and I don’t want to hear that I can’t actually do this – not from others and definitely not from myself.

So I am speaking from personal experience here when I tell you that travelling the world can still be possible even when you’re sick. You just have to:

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1. Know Your Limits

2. Research Your Travel Destination

So I know I can’t get too hot without some painful consequences, but I still managed to go to Australia. Twice. And live in Spain for six months...over the summer. For the first country listed: it’s big enough to move around with the cooler weather (south in the summer, north in the winter). I also timed my visits to start around springtime so that my body would have enough time to adapt to the new heat as the feeling of temperature is relative. As for Spain...well, that was a last minute decision that probably wasn’t the best choice...and not just because of the bureaucracy there and how difficult it is to get anything sorted. It's not much of a vacation if you can't ever go outside.

But that just drives my point home. Research where you want to travel and make sure it’s a good fit with your medical problems.

For instance, some countries don’t let you bring in certain medicine. Some countries seemingly put peanuts or peanut oil in everything. Some countries can’t easily offer the medical treatment you need so research all of this before you travel.

3. Take Care of Yourself

Even if you’re traveling with a team of doctors, you still have to take care of yourself more than how you would at home because you’re in a foreign place with foreign rules and maybe even a foreign tongue. You can’t go climbing a mountain, seeing the intricate alleyways of a city, and feed some kangaroos all in one day like some healthy people can. It’s just not going to happen...well, not without a medical backlash.

You might have to travel differently to accommodate the pain in your joints or your intolerance of the heat. You might have to travel slower, taking your time when moving from one place to another because you can’t sit still for too long and that’s okay.

You have to travel in a way that’s good for you, not anyone else.

4. Besides, You're Going to Hurt at Home Anyways

Ah, if medical problems had a time out area like tag I don’t know if I would ever step outside it. But they don’t. There isn’t a time out; they never give you a rest. You’re going to hurt or be allergic to peanuts or struggle through some other sickness wherever you are in the world, so why not ease the discomfort a bit by seeing all that you want to see? Besides, laughter and joy are the best medicines after all.

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So What's Stopping You From Traveling Now?

You don’t have to travel far and you don’t have to travel for long. Shucks, you might not even have to leave your home town. You’d be surprised what you don’t see as a local, what you didn’t know was there until you looked at it and researched it like a traveler. For instance, in Rojales, Spain there’s seemingly ‘nothing to do’ as it’s a small town with only a few shops. But just half an hour’s drive away are mountains worth hiking, coves worth snorkeling, and castles worth exploring.

Just because you are ill doesn’t mean that illness has to define you and it doesn’t mean that it has to control you 100% of the time. You’re stronger than you think you are and your options are broader than you think they are. I, and many others, are living proof of this. There are people who travel in wheelchairs, who travel with depression, who travel with chronic pain. We may not be a majority, but we are there.

See you on the road.

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