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Don't Let Chronic Pain Cancel Your Cruise Plans

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Booking a cruise vacation can be scary if you’re one of the 28 million adults in the UK afflicted with chronic pain. Chronic pain conditions (like fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus and other autoimmune disorders) can feel too overwhelming to travel with, especially because these “invisible illnesses” often have no visual clue like a wheelchair or service animal to communicate your special needs to others. A cruise vacation can offer a great compromise between the thrill of travel and your desire for comfort and safety.

Why A Cruise For Chronic Pain?

One of the main advantages of a cruise vacation is that all of your basic vacation needs - food, accommodation and fun - are in one central place on the boat. You can easily retreat to your room any time your pain flares up, and there are usually “quiet” decks where you can still enjoy the sun and sea without over-stimulation. If your condition is acting up on a day where most of the passengers are off on shore, there will still be entertainment on board; most cruises offer movies, shows and peaceful places to read with free Wi-Fi. In addition, almost all cruises offer full-service spas and yoga classes, both of which areknown to alleviate chronic pain. You’ll be able to get the soothing relaxation and fun entertainment that you want out of a vacation without ever being too far from your home base.

Since over 90% of chronic pain patients report that their symptoms fluctuate with the weather, consider a destination that will work with your personal triggers. If warm sunny days make your bones feel good, the traditional tropical cruise will work for you - but be sure to check the general weather trends for humidity and the potential for rainstorms, as both can trigger arthritis. For those who find heat sweltering and unbearable, look into a cooler alternative like an Alaskan cruise, or a line touring the seas of northern Europe. You get the comfort of the cruise ship and the beautiful scenery you expect, but without hot weather that could trigger discomfort.

Medications and Accommodation

There are some additional steps to take that a travel agent can help you with. Once you’ve chosen your destination, check with the NHS to see whether you’ll have to make special arrangements for your medications. For example, Japan has strict limitations on opiate-based drugs, so be aware of what countries you’ll travel through and what documents you’ll need. Only 6% of disabled travelers are wheelchair users, but if you’re one of them, or if you have additional mobility concerns, you’ll want to confirm that your targeted cruise has easily accessible spaces. Also consider ways to indicate that you have an invisible illness, such as the lanyard service offered at Heathrow.

Chronic pain can seem like an insurmountable wall between you and your travel dreams, but it doesn’t have to be. With some forethought and planning, you’ll be able to see the sights from your cruise ship without the worry over a flareup ruining the trip.

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