How to Have a Rockin’ Road Trip When Lupus Is Along for the Ride
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I just completed an epic roadtrip (even now as I write this post, I’m sitting in a laundromat more than 2,000 miles from home). And anyone who’s ever been on a roadtrip can vouch for me when I say it takes a little bit of planning beyond simply pointing at a destination on a map and driving in that direction. But when you have a chronic disease, a little extra planning goes a long way towards making your trip enjoyable. So here’s what I did to make this roadtrip great:
- Take breaks often. This requires having a driving partner. Driving for long hours is pretty brutal on the body and is exhausting. My husband and I drove 12-14 hours each day–my back ached, my ass went numb, and my hands and shoulders were sore from gripping the steering wheel. So we stopped about every 2-4 hours to use the restroom, get gas, stretch our legs, and/or switch drivers as needed.
- Communicate your needs to your driving partner. Whether your partner is a friend, significant other, or random hitchhiker, it behooves you to communicate honestly with them throughout your trip. And it’s not a bad idea to give your travel partner a heads up beforehand about what your needs may be, especially if it’s someone who’s not familiar with your disease.
- Plan to stay the night somewhere each night. Driving all day can take a surprising amount of energy, and although you might be tempted to drive through the night to get to your destination faster, you just can’t deny how good it feels to shower and sleep in a comfy bed after a long day on the road. Prior to embarking on our roadtrip, I estimated how far we’d get each day, and then I used my smartphone to book a hotel (I recommend hotels.com for it’s rating system, reviews, and deals) about 2 hours prior to arriving at that night’s destination. Having a specific town in mind also makes the last leg of the day’s driving that much easier knowing that you have an end goal in mind.
- Bring healthy snacks. My husband and I know that the boredom that accompanies many hours on a non-descript freeway leads to cravings for snacks. So we went to the grocery store before we officially hit the road. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not saints–we didn’t have a perfectly healthy snack plan. We stocked up on beef jerky, dried fruit, Special K crackers, water, and energy drinks (frappuccinos for me, Red Bulls for my husband). We also brought breakfast bars for the morning and stuff to make P&J sandwiches for lunch. Eating these moderately healthy snacks instead of drive-thru garbage will really help keep your energy up, and I’m convinced that it helps keep your mood positive, too (which is necessary when you’ve been sitting in a car with someone for a long time).
- Have a sense of humor. That, and reminding yourself to go with the flow when things don’t go right, may be the most important bit of advice I have to give. My husband and I love each other very much, but even we have our limits. So whenever we catch ourselves being unreasonable or getting snappy, we check ourselves–and laugh. After all, you’re on a roadtrip… How awesome is that?
Remembering to stick to your medication schedule is so important that I’m not even adding it to the numbered list above. This should be automatic in your day-to-day life, but even more so whenever you’re doing something as potentially strenuous as a roadtrip. So set a reminder on your phone, wash your pills down with an energy drink (I kid…), and get started on your roadtrip!