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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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Tips and Tools for Traveling via Car

When I think of summer I automatically think of road trips and vacations. Of course, fibromyalgia doesn’t love all that comes with car rides – being stuck in one position, bumps in the road, etc… Even if I’m only riding in a car a couple hours I bring quite a few things with me to assure that my ride is as comfortable as can be. The night before I put water bottles in the fridge to get them cold. If I’m going on a long ride during warm weather I even freeze some water bottles, as they get warm quickly sitting in a car. Staying well hydrated is a simple thing that can keep you feeling good. Having ample water also means that I can take any medication I need to, without trying to find a place to stop and get a drink. So that I have less to worry about in morning (and so I can sleep in longer), I also pack any magazines/book, sunscreen, sunglasses, medicine, snacks and GPS/maps that I might need.

To get comfortable while sitting in the car I typically ask for the front seat, so I can adjust the seat position and have more support. Other benefits to sitting in the front seat are that there is usually more legroom, you’re closer to the climate control system and can adjust it as needed (without having to ask someone to do it for you) and in many newer cars there are seat heaters. Seat heaters are amazing for aching backs as it is similar to using a heating pad, but ThermaCare-type heat wraps would also work. I think I’m going to be asking for some of these for Christmas!. I try to dress in layers, so I can adjust to the temperature that the majority of people in the car is comfortable with. Typically I bring a jacket to use as a blanket, but other items I use similarly are pashminas and small blankets. Although some cars will let you adjust the lumbar support in the seat, I still bring my own lumbar support. For long rides I also bring a pillow to get even more comfortable. If you don’t want to bring a big pillow, consider bringing a Travel Neck Support Pillow instead.

There is always the possibility that I may need to drive, for whatever reason, so I bring my soft Ace Wrist Braces just in case my wrists are feeling sore. They keep them from feeling worse. When I’m driving I try to avoid sudden lane changes or fast turns that can cause my body to quickly sway. If I notice that another driver is doing this, and it is causing me pain, I politely mention it to them and ask if they can drive more gently. It is always good to get out of the car and stretch every hour or so. Besides the physical benefits of stretching, it gives the driver a mental break.

What tips and tools do you use when traveling via car?

You may also be interested in reading:
Tips & Tools for Traveling via Airplane – Part II


Road trip!*

*Image Credit: from by pashasha


Comment from Kiwikchat
Time August 16, 2011 at 10:04 pm

The only things I would add to the car kit are eye patches and ear plugs. I find these are great if I am waiting in the carpark somewhere by myself for a bit I just lower the seat and really rest.
:) great post
Kiwikchat recently posted: 10 hints for saving shower energy.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Great suggestions for items to have at pit stops!


Comment from Karen
Time August 17, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I can’t find the site where I found the idea, but it basically showed turning a Boppy pillow into a driving pillow. You have to take a bunch of the stuffing out of the fat part so you can still reach the steering wheel and resew it back together, but then you put it around your waist and can rest your arms on the side parts while you drive. It really works well! I have one I’ve sort of made, and tried it during a long drive and it helped a lot with fatigue in my arms and shoulders.

I also make sure I have pillows and a neck pillow, water, legroom, and a towel or pashmina to throw on if I get cold. Make sure I have my meds nearby too if I need them. Haven’t gotten around to getting a seat heater yet but that’s next on my list. My back killed during my 5 hour ride back from Charleston last week.
Karen recently posted: Wordless Wednesday


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Oh, what a great idea! I know I often place my hands near the bottom of the wheel so that I can relax my arms more.


Comment from Monet
Time October 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Great suggestions! I often have to travel by car for work and to visit family seven hours away. Or five hours away depending on how often I stop! Here are some things that work for me:
1-Sometimes I don’t know how stiff I am until I get out of the car, so I make sure I get out to walk around for a few minutes every two-three hours. This is a great time to use the restroom, sitesee if possible, drink more water, and readjust to the outside temperature if it is changing.
2 – I actually recently took the headrest off my drivers seat. I find that it helps me stay alert especially when I am really tired because I can’t lean it back to rest which can potentially be a safety hazard.
3-I maintain a relatively strict Paleo diet when I am home and even stricter when I am traveling to avoid additional aches, pains, and stomachaches. I have a cooler and have pre-prepared meals in bags or tupperware. I just did this for three days straight and was able to be 100 percent Paleo the whole time. The hotel I stayed at had a microwave at the front desk and they had no problem heating my food. Just take utensils, a small bottle of dish soap, and you’re good to go. Additionally some gas stations have microwaves just be careful not to heat too much as they are usually stronger. Carrots and great to snack on in the car. Preparing ahead of time helps a ton, and usually you can fill your small-medium sized cooler with the ice machine ice at a gas station for 25 cents or less.
Monet recently posted: The to-do list for the passionate and determined.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks for adding your suggestions! I must say that #2 actually makes me a bit nervous though. Headrests play an important role in safety during car accidents. As someone who has been rear-ended hard I hope you’ll reconsider putting yours back on for safety’s sake – pretty please.


Comment from Monet
Time October 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm

Good point. I never thought of that!


Comment from Susan
Time March 21, 2013 at 3:56 pm

If you had to choose to fly to oregen from los angeles CA or fly to Oregon from L.A. Would it be better to make the long drive? I am concerened that I will have more pain do to the stress of flying, pressure changes, not finding gluten free foods/snacks in the airline. I also have cpap machine so I will have limited space for things I need to help me travel than the space allowed in a car if I drove.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

There is a lot to consider when making a choice between driving long distance and flying a shorter flight. I think I’ll have to write a post about it. For me, the 2 hr 20 min flight would be better. Can you wait until next week for me to publish a post about all the details I’d consider? If not, I’ll comment again with more info. Also, you might want to check out my posts with tips and tools for traveling via airplane. (links on my Newly Diagnosed? page)


Comment from Susan
Time March 22, 2013 at 11:55 am

Hello Felicia

I looke forward to your response.

My neurologist also recommend to fly instead o the long drive with stops.

I have to tell I am thrilled I have found you. I am the only family member with fybromyalgia. It feels good to know I am not crazy, lazy or alone.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

You’re definitely not crazy, lazy or alone Susan! I started working on my response post tonight.


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