Advice

Traveling with a Medical Condition: It Can be Done!

April 22, 2016

First of all ­ it can be done! As with all travel it’s how you go about it. My love of experiencing the world has always trumped the limits my chronic conditions place on me. But these are a few things I have learnt along the way that greatly help in my endeavor to wander the world.

1.) ­ Do it your way
Both my younger brothers have backpacked around South­east Asia, and the amazing stories of their adventures made me crave to do the same. I was unable to follow in their backpacking footsteps, but having never been to Asia I was determined to find a way. A cruise was my answer! I found my perfect cruise that started in Singapore, cruised up Thailand’s coast stopping in Koh Samui and Bangkok, on to Cambodia’s Sihanoukville, around to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, along with the charming Hoi An and Na Trang, and finally departing in Hong Kong. With a few days in Singapore and Hong Kong at either end, it gave me a wonderful taster of Asia.

2.) ­ Take a mate
The cruise would never have been possible had I not asked my parents if they would like to come along too. With the dates fitting, their gracious support, and our shared love of travel, we were off. They were amazing. Always accommodating, encouraging and supportive; they helped me every step of the way, from holding my bag to figuring out which train line we needed when I was too tired to. We were also able to get to know each other as adults, and with our shared experiences, now have a better relationship.

3.) ­ Ask for help
I don’t often ask for help, even when I really need it. I’d get lost instead of asking for directions. But it was actually a very important lesson I learnt ­ people are helpful and understanding. It might sound so simple, but the kindness and understanding I was shown when I needed help really touched me. I asked people if I might take their seat as I was in pain, the answer was always yes. People would always take the time to help you out with directions, some even asking if we needed help when we were looking very confused. I asked the hotel and cruise staff if they could carry my bags for me. Any time I asked for help I was answered with understanding, kindness and consideration, and it made my trip all the easier and better for asking. Which brings us to­…

­4.) Accepting help
I like to be quite independent, especially when traveling, and sometimes find it difficult to accept help from others. But often it is the best thing you can do. I organized a wheelchair to help get me around the airports, knowing that the energy I was saving could be used for sightseeing instead. And although it challenged me, it was the best thing I could have done. My parents would carry my things for me, remind me to have more water and my medications, and plan out our day. Sometimes this was an easy exchange, while others were; let’s say more of a challenge. But in accepting their help it was always in my best interests and made my day much easier and a whole lot more enjoyable.

5.) ­ Don’t be afraid to be pushy
Usually I am the person at the back of the line, letting everyone go ahead of me, I’ll take the broken uncomfortable seat, and will pass on things if I know there isn’t enough to go around. But to get the best out of my trip I had to learn to be more forceful. My dad is very good at this when he’s trying to help someone out ­ like me. So I learnt to squeeze through to the front of the line, rush to the bus so I could get a front seat (I get motion sickness), take someone else’s seat if they haven’t left items there, insist on getting on the plane first, not always waiting my turn to get a photo and a whole heap of other things. Yes sometimes people were a bit miffed, but for the sake of my health and the experience, I’m glad I did it.

So never believe that your medical issues or conditions mean that you are unable to go out and explore this incredible planet. It might take a bit more ingenuity and patience, but like the old saying goes ­ where there’s a will, there’s a way.

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