This week, I returned to New York City after a weeklong trip with my sister to Acadia National Park in Maine. And I can’t say enough how much of an amazing trip this was! My sister and I had always talked about going on a cross-country trip together, and while high gas prices and some personal barriers kept us from going west, we made the best of it and headed north to Maine.
But I’d be lying if I said that camping and living out of a truck for a week while living with POTS didn’t concern me. When I’m camping — without a trailer, electricity, and control over my environment — there’s a lot that could make me symptomatic. But I was determined not to let my POTS stop me from traveling and taking this dream trip with my sister.
So I came up with a plan, and I prepared. You may be asking, “What did this preparation look like?”
Well, for starters, I made sure I packed more electrolyte packets than I would reasonably need in a week. Luckily, Maine is cooler this time of year than other places we were looking to go in the U.S., so I didn’t worry too much about sweating myself into dehydration. But I knew we’d be on the road a lot, which meant I wouldn’t drink as much water as I should, so I wanted to make sure I had what I needed to rehydrate. Plus, we’d be doing a lot of hiking.
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I also packed several pairs of my favorite VIM & VIGR compression socks. I planned to wear them while hiking, but I ended up not needing them! I just wore them to bed some nights and for long rides in the truck.
Along with electrolytes and compression socks, I made sure to have salty foods, too. This included things like bacon and pickles. (And Liquid IV because it has a lot of sodium in it!)
Tips for Camping and Traveling With POTS
Below, I’ll give a recap on my important tips for traveling with POTS if you ever take a similar trip camping out of a vehicle… or a tent or a trailer.
- Bring more electrolytes than you think you will need.
- Get a bunch of gallon water jugs, and bring a reusable water bottle. It’s easier to just fill that up from a gallon jug than to buy a bunch of water bottles. (And also better for the planet.)
- Pack all your favorite salty foods (e.g., bacon, pickles, salted nuts, trail mix, Liquid IV, pretzels, canned soup, and a salt shaker).
- Take compression socks to wear during long travel times, sleeping, or hiking, or for all-day use.
- If it’s hot where you are going, bring a battery-powered fan for sleeping when you can’t run the AC in the vehicle. You can also bring washcloths to wet and place on your body, or get a bag of ice and put ice in the cloth.
- If you are as sensitive to temperature changes as I am (one minute I’m too hot, the next I’ve got goosebumps), bring all different types of clothing. This includes tank tops, shorts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, long-sleeves, short-sleeves, and something flowy and breezy like a dress.
- Pack all medications you take, and make sure you have enough so you won’t run out while you are away.
- If you have them, take any devices you use to monitor your vital signs. This may include a smartwatch like a Fitbit, a portable blood pressure monitor, or a pulse oximeter.
- Bring your favorite pain relief method! This was something I actually forgot to bring! I meant to pack my TENS unit because sometimes long car rides and lots of active time increase my hip pain. But a cream or gel, like BioFreeze, is another go-to pain relief item of mine. (I also forgot that.) What I didn’t forget? Advil.
Acadia National Park Adventures
On the first day of our trip, I felt great. I mean, I was on vacation after all! My sister and I hung out around Schoodic Woods Campground (where we were staying). We went on a two-mile hike near the campground that went through the woods alongside the water. The colliding smells of pine and salt from the sea made me want to make a new perfume of the scent so I could keep it forever. After that hike, my sister and I jogged back to the campground, which was about a mile in distance.
Cut to the next morning.
I felt dizzier and more lightheaded than usual when I stood up from sitting. But I didn’t panic! When we made a campfire for breakfast, I chugged some Liquid IV (passionfruit flavor!), ate two bacon strips, and added extra salt to my eggs. After that, I felt much, much better. My blood pressure had probably gotten too low, and maybe I hadn’t been drinking enough water given the heavy activity we’d done the day before.
But I felt better enough to take a ferry to Bar Harbor that day. (We made the ferry by one minute. One. Minute. But the captain ended up laughing at us because he said he could see us running down the street toward the boat, so he wasn’t planning on leaving us behind. LOL! Thank you, sir!)
So, about Bar Harbor: I absolutely loved it! It’s a cute — but very touristy — town with more shops that sell Acadia merchandise than I can count on both hands. But it also has a bunch of good restaurants, one of which — called Side Street — that has a great happy hour deal. (Yes, I had a mandarin margarita at happy hour. I do drink alcohol in moderation now that my symptoms are in control and with doctor approval.)
Bar Harbor also has several ice cream spots, so naturally, this place has won a spot in my heart. And if you ever go, I’d recommend trying something with blueberries. During the time we were there, my sister and I had blueberry soft serve, blueberry muffins, and blueberry pancakes. I’m basically a living blueberry now. And I don’t regret it because everything was YUM!
The day after Bar Harbor, my sister and I explored Jordan Pond and hiked *almost* all of Bubble Rock. We took Forrest — my sister’s pitbull-labrador mix — with us, and we got to one point near the top that you’d basically need to rock climb to get up. Not dog-friendly. But we still got an amazing view from our vantage point. Forrest sure was happy about it.
After that, we drove up Cadillac Mountain. I have two things to say about that: 1: The views of the sea and shoreline on one side and the mountains on the other are breathtaking. 2. It was super windy, so you should dress warm and leave your hat in the car! Seriously, it was so windy that I couldn’t take too many pictures up there because I couldn’t hold my phone steady!
On our final day in Maine, we went to Sand Beach and hiked Great Head Trail. It gave us amazing views of the rocky shoreline, the ocean, and several mountains in the near distance. It was foggy the morning we went, which gave it this awesome-yet-kinda-eerie vibe that photographed really well. I only wished I had brought my actual hiking shoes because after a while, hiking on the rocks hurt my feet. (This was the night I slept with my compression socks on, and my feetsies felt better the next day.)
The remaining part of our trip involved me crashing my sister’s college friend’s wedding in Freeport, Maine (another very cute town). It was such a great memory to trudge sleepily back from a wedding — dressed to the nines — and to crawl into the back of the truck to cuddle up with Forrest and fall asleep. Major props to my sister for making a bed frame that could fit in her truck bed and for getting an air mattress so we’d have somewhere cheap to sleep on this trip.
I can’t believe this trip is over, but I truly fell in love with Acadia National Park! And there was so much we still didn’t get to do there. Guess that means I’ll just have to go back someday and check more things off my to-do list.
If you’re interested in hearing how we traveled, lived, and worked out of my sister’s truck for a week, let me know in the comments below, and I can dedicate a post to that! Maybe I’ll have my sister guest write a post for that if the interest is there.
Until next time!