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I have always been hypermobile, only I didn’t know that until after I had a baby. During my pregnancy I was in severe amounts of pain every single day. The kind of pain that puts you on bed rest, taking strong and debilitating painkillers on a regular basis just to take the edge off the pain. I never imagined being able to lift my son, or simply do the housework ever again. I never imagined I’d be able to sit here and let you all know that I found ways to make travelling with hypermobility more bearable…
Tip read: How to find the cheapest flights
1. Break up the flights
If you are travelling long-haul consider taking the longer layover options. I love this because it also lets you see another country, usually for free. If you happen to do this in Qatar you can get free tours, visas and/or a hotel for the night. Over at Thrifty Nomads they have a great article about 7 airports that offer this kind of service. You should check it out and see if you can use the free tours to take advantage of a long layover at no extra cost to you.
Tip read: Travel the world using the layover hack
2. Keep your painkillers handy
My big mistake going to Thailand was leaving my pain medication at home. This made travelling with hypermobility a lot more difficult, and a lot more painful than it needed to be. I remember one specific day on the back of a bike on Koh Samui where I ended up in tears because my hips had separated so much. I like to now keep mine in a cute little zipper bag that I can grab easily and know they are there when I need them.
My suggestion would be to keep some painkillers handy in your hand luggage. Flights are probably going to be one of your toughest parts of your travels with all the sitting down, so make sure you have them somewhere you can get to them easily. An extra tip is to make sure you bring a note from your doctor or a copy of the prescription because I have heard of airport security taking medication from people who cannot prove they are theirs. Play it safe.
3. Bring a pillow
You know those ring cushions that people use to be able to fall asleep in cars or on planes? Have you ever considered using it as a seat. My hypermobility has caused damaged to my coccyx and having a cushion that can take all of the pressure off that is a complete blessing. We picked up one each cheap on Khao San Road but you can get one at almost any airport.
You can also opt for a kids pillow. They are really tiny because they are designed for a cot. It is easily portable and well worth it if your pain is that bad. Airlines like Qatar Airways also offer out pillows for use on your flight, so if you only need it for the plane, they’ve got you covered.
4. Take a sleeper train
If you are travelling in Asia and have considered the night bus. Don’t. If it comes between taking a sleeper train and a night bus take the train. The bus is great if you want to save money, and I am sure there are some way more luxurious than the ‘VIP’ bus we took from Bangkok to Surat Thani… but the whole point of a bus is you sit.
Tip read: Sleeper train from Koh Samui to Bangkok
I found the bus journey quite tough, the pain got to me a lot and brought out a lot of emotion in me. The train was a completely different experience. We chose first class, which in the UK would compare to third class, but it was really comfortable. We had a bed each and I could lie down with plenty of space and room to stretch. I went for the bottom bunk to save my climbing ladders too which really helped.
5. Walk less
If you happen to be in Asia you should take advantage of the cheap transportation. We hopped in Tuk Tuks often and used the local songthaew which is the Thai version of local buses. They are open back pickups with benches lined on the inside. They are usually 20 bhat, unless you are unaware of this and you will be scammed into paying more. But it is still super cheap.
The days where I walked too much I was in pain. The same went for spending more time on a motorbike. Using the taxis, Tuk Tuks and songthaew was a great alternative and they don’t mind whisking you about for short journeys. So there is no need to feel guilty if you cannot walk a lot.
6. Alternative pain relief
I mentioned above about taking painkillers with you. There are only so many painkillers you can take in a day so its a good idea to have an alternative. I like Forever Livings heat gel because it really gets down into the muscles and numbs the pain quickly.
I like to use a mix of this with their MSM gel (which is also great for people with arthritic pain) because you can use them as often as you want throughout the day. You can order online and they have product centres all over the world so you can really get it from anywhere you need to. I liked the pain relief so much I actually represent them now and have my own online store so I earn money back/get a discount on my pain relief gels.
Tip read: How to beat jetlag: To sleep or not to sleep?
If you are in Asia another cheap way to fight the pain is to get massages. Back in the UK I pay for a monthly sports massage to keep everything in order. I will carry this on when I am back in Asia and I can do it more often because of the cost.
You can even seek sports therapists through local Facebook groups if you want your treatment to be more targeted.
Hydrotherapy is one of the main treatments in the UK for those who suffer hypermobility in their hips. I used it regularly after giving birth and it helped to strengthen places where I had weakness. This was more exercise than swimming but the water still takes the pressure off the parts of your body which are struggling.
I always take a dip in the water when my pain is increasing. It helps keep it at bay and take pressure off the parts of my body which are struggling.
Tip read: Our first three months of family travel: Travel plans Asia
How do you cope with your chronic pain when you travel?