Hi, friends! Guess what? You don’t need to sacrifice traveling with a chronic illness like POTS. While traveling may trigger symptoms, I have POTS travel tips that you can try for reducing symptoms and traveling safely and comfortably. For example, you should pack a bag of essentials with everything you need to manage your health while away from home. In this blog post, I’ll share more of my best tips for traveling with POTS so that you can enjoy your next trip!
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1. Hydrate Well
If you have POTS and have read my blog, you know how much I stress the importance of hydration for POTS patients. Well, here I go again! When you’re traveling with POTS, hydration is extra important.
When we travel, we can be tempted to reduce our fluid intake to lessen bathroom trips. But I’d strongly advise POTS patients not to do this! Dehydrating yourself for travel will only increase your chances of feeling worse en route to your destination and after you arrive. Sure, you may get to your destination sooner by not taking many bathroom breaks. But why take the chance of not feeling well during your trip by doing so?
When I travel, I make sure I hydrate really well the day before. I know that despite my best efforts, I won’t drink as much as I’m used to while traveling. So, hydrating super well the day before can help delay any travel dehydration. Get your giant water bottle and Liquid I.V. ready!
2. Pack A Bag of Essentials
When traveling with POTS, it’s really important to remember to take all your must-have items for symptom management. Remember to pack all medications, electrolyte replenishers, and compression garments. You should also pack some salty snacks, or SaltStick Vitassium Salt Capsules if you take salt supplements. If it’s going to be hot where you’re traveling, bring cool clothes to wear and consider packing cool compresses. And don’t forget a heart rate monitor, whether that’s a smart watch or fingertip pulse oximeter. Wearing Sea-band wristbands can also help with travel-induced nausea.
3. Consider A Medical ID Bracelet
You may consider buying a medical ID bracelet before your trip, especially if you will be traveling alone. In the case of an emergency, a medical ID bracelet can help first responders take proper care of you. This is especially important if you are prone to fainting.
You can request personalized engravings on these bracelets with important information about your health. For example, mine would say something like “POTS, low BP/high HR, drug allergies.” You could include other information, like severe allergies (e.g. “nut allergy”) and medical devices you have (e.g. “pacemaker”). You can also list specific instructions like “be careful moving,” since POTSies are sensitive to postural changes.
You can buy a personalized medical ID bracelet from many online vendors, including Lauren’s Hope. I love the variety of styles they offer. They have something for women, men, children, and non-binary persons. Whether you want a more simple look or a beaded, intricate design, Lauren’s Hope has a medical ID bracelet for everyone’s style!
4. Wear Comfortable Clothes
My next POTS travel tip is to wear comfy clothes on travel days. Whether you’re traveling by car, plane, train, or boat, you’ll want to be comfortable for the journey. Cut off any itchy tags that can bother people with sensitive skin. If you are prone to migraines or sensitive to light, wear a wide brim sun hat or sunglasses to block the sun. And choose soft, stretchy, and loose clothing that you can easily move around in. That way, you can stretch and move while traveling, which is important to maintain good circulation. Plus, who really wants to travel in jeans?
5. Bring A Mobility Aid
If a mobility aid is something you have but do not need to use every day (i.e. depends on symptom severity), consider bringing it on your trip. If you’re flying, you will likely need to wait in long lines. And chances are, you’ll be out exploring and sightseeing on your trip. This equals a lot of time standing, which can be difficult for POTS patients. So, bring a mobility aid if you have one, just in case you need it! If you use a mobility aid daily, you already know the drill.
6. Don’t Forget Compression
If you’re flying with POTS or sitting through a long car ride, you’ll want to put on compression garments. Personally, compression socks are the minimum compression I wear while traveling with POTS. Usually, I wear high-waisted compression leggings (mine are from Lululemon — totally recommend, totally worth the price) and VIM & VIGR compression socks.
The biggest compression benefit for POTS is that it aids circulation. Since circulation can be negatively impacted by long travel times and lack of movement, traveling often leads to POTS symptoms. So, that’s why it helps to wear compression on travel days.
7. Move Often, Even If Seated
Flying with POTS — especially on long flights — can aggravate POTS symptoms because of lack of movement. So, if you are able to, stand up at your seat occasionally once it’s safe to do so. Also, walk around the cabin often, if possible. Long flights can be troublesome for some POTS patients because of the pressure changes and the time spent sitting.
And here’s another tip for traveling with POTS: When you’re sitting for a long time and not able to stand, do heel or calf raises while seated. Or try a seated march. Even squeezing your legs together will help to keep blood from pooling in your lower body. You should do these exercises frequently. I’d say to perform them every half hour to an hour at a minimum, but do whatever works best for you!
If you’re in a car, stop for rest breaks to stretch and move around to further promote good circulation. Don’t worry about being annoying. I’m sure someone in the vehicle has to pee, and you’re doing them a favor.
Whenever you reach your destination, get up from your seat slowly and carefully. You may be lightheaded and dizzy, so don’t rush. Perform a few syncope maneuvers if you feel like fainting.
7. Balance Your Trip Activities
I know that going on trips is fun and exciting, and there’s likely so much you want to do! But don’t pack all your plans into one day, or worse, the first day. Trying to jam everything on your itinerary in one day will likely tire you out. It may even trigger symptoms. And who wants to feel unwell during vacation or an important trip?
Instead, spread out your activities over the duration of your trip. Balance high-energy activities with other low-energy options. Be vocal with those in your travel group about needing breaks, and don’t feel obligated to do everything. It’s just as relaxing and fun to have a chill day and lounge somewhere picturesque with a good book or games.
8. Calm Travel Anxiety
If traveling makes you anxious (like flying!) bring something that calms you or that will serve as a good distraction. Anxiety and stress can be a POTS trigger for me. Download a movie or show to watch, read a book, or plugin a podcast. Or, you can turn on some music and close your eyes. Talking to someone may also help you relax, even if you need to text or call someone. When I flew for the first time recently, I listened to my favorite playlist. By the time the playlist finished, my flight was over!
Having POTS doesn’t need to take the fun and enjoyment out of traveling. With these POTS travel tips, you can better prepare yourself for vacations, road trips, or spontaneous adventures! So, where are you gonna go first?
If you have any other awesome tips for traveling with POTS that readers should know about, drop them in the comments below! And if you liked this post, don’t forget to share it on social and pin it for later reference.