Sitting in an airport waiting for my flight home, I got to thinking about how differently I travel these days. Traveling with pelvic pain can be difficult which leads some pelvic pain sufferers choosing not to travel at all. I am certainly more selective about my travel plans and have learned some ways to help reduce the pain that typically comes with traveling.
1. Pack the essentials
Travel light, or be prepared to ask for help. Lifting heavy luggage can aggravate your already tense muscles and even a sore shoulder can directly influence your pelvic pain. If you don’t have a suitcase with wheels I definitely recommend you invest in one (I love my purple carryon with spinner wheels). You can also pack a tennis ball to substitute for your foam roller in order to massage tense and sore muscles. A tennis ball can work on the floor, but I found it works best by leaning against a wall. Also, bring what medication you can. For me, that’s some Advil PM and a pack of Salonpas (I haven’t yet figured out how to bring my Diazepam suppositories because they melt so easily).
The most important thing I bring when traveling is my seat cushion. I use it on the plane, waiting at the airport, and in my rental car. It comes with handles, but I carry it easily and discreetly in my $1.50 reusable shopping bag that I bought at Daiso (love that store!). I also have a small pillow I use every night sleeping on my side and have found that it doubles well as a back support on the plane or in the car.
2. Dress appropriately
I personally am one who almost always chooses comfort over fashion, but when it comes to traveling with pelvic pain I believe this is a must. If you are going to be flying or sitting in the car for an extended period of time, stick to yoga pants or leggings. You could go with a comfy dress, but that can make stretching in public a little interesting. I usually wear yoga pants under a dress or long shirt. Of course wear comfortable shoes if you’re going to the airport. (I swear it never fails that my gate is always the one farthest away from the entrance.) Aching feet will absolutely contribute to your pelvic pain so do what you can to prevent that.
Use what resources you have available to you. At the hotel room I will lay out a towel on the floor in lieu of my yoga mat to do my full nightly routine of stretching. And don’t be afraid to stretch in public (back to my earlier comment about wearing leggings under that dress). I always do some basic standing and sitting stretches while waiting for my plane at the airport. You can use the airport chairs as props, or even your suitcase. I usually do a malasana (or squatting pose), and I even once laid out my jacket on the floor in the airport terminal for a full child’s pose. Initially I was a little self-conscious doing these stretches in public. But, eventually I realized that reducing my pelvic pain was a lot more important than what a bunch of strangers might be thinking about me.
4. Be patient with your body
When traveling with pelvic pain it is most important to be patient with your body. Traveling can be fun and exciting, but it also puts a lot of added stress on your body and especially your pelvic floor muscles. Don’t expect that you can do what everyone else can. Know your body’s limits and then lower them even more considering the extra stress of traveling. Keep some space in your travel schedule and listen to your body. If you are feeling tired, make time to rest. Ensure you have enough time to do your stretching and tennis ball massage after a long day (or even to start your day).
For those of you traveling with spouses, I recommend you have a serious talk before your trip to set expectations for sex ahead of time. Even if you have made great progress in your particular pain condition and are able to enjoy sex without pain most days, remember that your body is going to be under more stress than usual. If you have discussed with your spouse ahead of time, you will be more comfortable listening to your body’s cues and opting for something a little less likely to trigger your pain.
Traveling with pelvic pain is absolutely possible and can be just as enjoyable as it used to be. These are some of the things I have learned over the years, but I would love to hear what works for you. Please post a comment to share (and you can use an alias if you prefer to remain anonymous).