You Travel and You Learn

I have always known that traveling with RA requires extra thought and planning but I am now learning how difficult it truly can be. I am living in Milan, Italy, for one month which is definitely the greatest amount of time I have spent outside of the US. I never studied abroad and I have only ever vacationed in other parts of the US. I wasn’t too worried about anything besides bringing my medication.

I knew this would be challenging but important since I can’t have medication shipped overseas and I need to do an injection every other week. Also, because traveling in general throws off my normal routine like my eating, sleeping, and drinking habits. Anyone with RA knows all of this leads to a greater likelihood of a bad flare-up, so I needed to be prepared.

Traveling with medication

I went on Amazon and shopped around for a while until I found a small, cute portable cooler. It had a built-in ice pack and, according to reviewers, it was supposed to stay cold up to 10 hours. I did the math and I thought this would be perfect, as my medication is okay out of the fridge for 2 hours and my flight is 8 hours which leaves 4 hours of extra time before I get to a refrigerator.

My plan fell apart

What I didn’t account for is a 3-hour flight delay and the 3 hours it took me to get to my housing accommodations in Milan. A different country, a different language, and a different currency: it took me a while to figure it out. Of course, by the time I made it to my destination, it had been 16 hours since I packed the portable cooler. The cooler was no longer cool and my medication was nice and warm. All of that preparation and what I thought was fool-proof planning didn’t work and I didn’t come up with a back-up plan.

I'm without any usable medication

So now I am in Italy for the month with no usable medication just hoping and praying that my body doesn’t betray me. I am trying hard to maintain my usual routine (sleeping 9 hours, stretching every morning, eating healthy, drinking green tea every night, and drinking alcohol sparingly), despite the excitement of being in a new country and despite the different way of living here.

Trying to take care of my body while I'm away from home

I am taking the time to understand where the anti-inflammatory foods are in the grocery store, I am finding healthy restaurants to try, and I am trying to enjoy more caffe instead of alcohol even though when it hits 6 o'clock here, everyone is participating in the wonderful tradition of aperitivo! (Aperitivo is the ritual of sitting together, with friends over drinks and small snacks in the early evening.) We’ll see how this month in Italy goes! I am trying to remain calm because, you know, stress causes a flare-up!

I tried to plan ahead but when traveling with RA I guess it’s never that simple. I still want to explore the world, but maybe I just have to do it in one-week increments so I can get back home and take my perfectly temped medication on time.

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