As you are all probably bored of hearing I recently went abroad on holiday. It meant two flights obviously and as someone who has navigated airports a few times, I would share my tips for preserving yourself and energy. I hope this gives you some reassurance that it can be possible to fly – even if it makes you not so great for a few days.
- Book assistance at the airport. If you struggle with mobility and all that fun stuff it is a true lifesaver to have help to navigate it all and get safely on the flight. I have had pleasant encounters with the teams and I really recommend it to save anxiety and energy.
- Try to think of things that might bug you and pack accordingly in your hand luggage. I take earphones that are slightly noise cancelling, sunglasses, earplugs painkillers and a jumper in case I get cold. Try to think ahead and pack snacks and things that will help you as long as they are within the regulations of security and your airline.
- Accept that its likely that the plane journey will be taxing and you might need to rest for a few days. Accept it takes time to get used to new surroundings and try not to book tours the day after you land. Accept this is one of those things that makes you less ‘normal’ you need to scale your expectations to your current capabilities.
- Pay for extra legroom and do what you can to get comfortable. When we flew here it was around a three-hour flight. Which is quite short but it is worth being comfortable. You have to do what will help you even if it is costly.
- Travel with those that you trust. I only can fly because of my family, they know me and me ME/CFS so well that they can help me without me having said anything. Travel buddies are important.
- Think about taking your own wheelchair. I have taken mine and found it far better than borrowing one it tends to be far more comfortable and you know what will be waiting for you once you are off the plane.
- Don’t try and get through security and have a huge list of things you need to buy before you fly in the duty-free. You can find me in Starbucks having bought a drink or two from a shop and then I rest and wait for my flight. Don’t add extra pressure.
- Take your medications with you and try to take them at the same time as you would on a normal day. I take my medications in my hand luggage and a repeat prescription just to be on the safe side. Always check that you can take your medications into the country your holiday is planned. It isn’t worth the risk.
- Hope for the best plan for the worst. I know its a Debbie Downer expression but try to think about if your flight gets delayed or you have a really bad symptom day. Try to have a few ideas and plans as to how to get through the day.
- Ignore all the miserable people who will glare and make snarky comments if you are taken to the front of a queue or get on the plane first. You might be looking “normal” but you know why you have those allowances in place, don’t let it spoil your holiday. As I’ve said before, smile and kill them with kindness. I also want to just mention the sunflower lanyard scheme most UK airports now run. It is meant for ‘invisible’ struggles to give staff a heads up you may be struggling with something through the airport. You can ask for a lanyard from special assistance. I’ll leave a link to a little more information.
I hope these give you some advice on how to survive the airport if you brave it. I hope it goes well for you and you have a lovely holiday. Leave your tips on flying down below. I think its a really helpful resource for first time chronically ill people to be able to learn from our experiences.