This is a guest post written by Caroline A. from Little Boxes Of Sunshine.
Solo In The City With Chronic Illness
Stepping off the train platform was like a line straight out of the Taylor Swift’s song Welcome to New York: “Walkin' through a crowd, the village is aglow, kaleidoscope of loud heartbeats under coats.” So many people all with a destination on their minds. Maybe it’s a workplace, maybe a cafe to meet up with a friend, or even one of the hundreds of tour attractions. All of this happening in one place: a city.
Growing up only a half and hour away from a major city I was familiar with it's surroundings. Despite that everytime going into the city was and still is just as exciting as the first time. The constant construction of buildings going up. The new food places popping up. The ever evolving list of events going on year round. The city always felt like meeting up with an old friend with a new hairstyle every time.
As I grew older I started venturing into the city to meet my “old friend” on my own. Hold on, I wasn’t just traveling on my own, nowadays I always had a chronic illness or two in tow. Not exactly the definition of traveling solo. Despite the lovely luggage I had with me at all times, I still managed to make the trips into the city enjoyable, it just took some exact work.
That extra work started the night before with preparing for a days travel. I start with packing a backpack full of everything medical and non-medical I might need. Backpacks are easier to carry around the city and put less strain on the shoulders than an overfilled purse. My backpack is filled with many items, but my must haves are a full days worth of meds plus a couple extra just in case, grab and go snacks, water bottles, earbuds, and extra phone charger. Having access to quick snacks and water are super helpful for me to make sure I stay well hydrated and my body is nourished to handle the days activities.
I also make sure to pre plan my route for the day and have tickets paid for or have money already set aside to do so. Along with having tickets paid for in advance I always make sure to have my route to getting to my location(s) in two places, one on a sticky note and the other plugged into Google Maps on my phone. Lastly, I have my outfit all picked out for the next day and I head off to bed early to make sure I get an adequate amount of sleep. Fatigue can make my symptoms worse and cause me to have bad “brain fog”, two things I don’t need to be dealing with while in the city so just another reason to get enough sleep the night before.
The day of I make sure I am up on time, all morning medications are taken, and I double check my backpack for all items I need for the trip. On the train I listen to music and review any paperwork for the day. Once I am off the train and in the city, I take the route to my destination step by step. Due to all the sights, sounds, and hustle and bustle of the city, it can make it hard to focus and cause feelings of overwhelm.
To help combat this I make getting to my destination into a game. First get here, then get off there, and so on. I also make sure to take “pit stops” in my game to check in on how my body is handling everything. If I need to stop to take meds, put on a brace, take a drink of water, ect I will make sure to find a safe place like a cafe to do so.
Once I make it to my destination, I make sure to enjoy my time, but keep an eye on how my body is doing just like I did getting there. I also make sure to have alarms set for when it is time to take medications so that I don’t miss a dose in the midst of activities.
When the day is all said and done, on the train ride home I listen to music again and make a list of any follow up things like thank you texts/emails that I need to complete the next day from the days trip.
Traveling anywhere with an illness(es) in toe can seem like a daunting task. However, I have found breaking the trip down into more manageable steps has worked for me to have successful trips over and over again. The city is full of so much excitement and things to do. As I start to take more trips into the city I feel like I walk right into a Taylor Swift wonderland filled with “a new soundtrack I could dance to this beat” every single time.