The Stop Fainting nurses are frequently asked for advice planning a holiday/ vacation or travelling. In this article, the nurses offer some guidance as to the main points you should consider when thinking about taking a holiday or travelling.
Before You Go.
‘Location, Location,Location’ Getting there and back
When most of us plan a holiday away location is a key consideration but for those of us who faint we also need to consider our triggers. For some it may be heat, for others it is fatigue or changes to eating, sleeping or drinking habits. So whilst the particulars vary according to the individual we ask that you consider the following in the context of your particular triggers:
Climate: Be mindful of the climate of you chosen destination at any particular time of the year- particularly if you find British summers a trial. Might you want to visit at a cooler time of year?
‘Planes Trains and automobiles’ Is this going to be a stay-cation or involve a long haul flight/extensive travel? Where you intend to visit and how you intend to get there is important. The demands of travelling to your destination should be considered and how it might be best accomplished. How might a journey be planned to work around your triggers? Be aware that one size does not fit all here. For instance, a coach trip may be less stressful that driving yourself but the coach trip may be less flexible in terms of keeping your own break schedule. What would be better in terms of your triggers (blood pooling,fatigue,stress) getting the train or flying?
In general, think about how physically or mentally stressful you find travelling by different modes of transport. Similarly, you may enjoy flying off to distant destinations but feel that you need to consider your options for differing times of flights and your overall travel itinerary to avoid particular triggers. What time do you have to get to the airport. How log is a stopover? Do you have a break in the journey? How comfortable will you be on the journey? How much recovery time have you given yourself before returning back to work etc?
Health records and medications- helping others help you. If you take any regular medications it is important to consider taking sufficient supplies with you and to also take appropriate documentation with you to explain why you need it. We suggest patients take a recent clinic letter which outlines their diagnosis and rational for any medications or special arrangements (such as when considering seat allocations) they may require. Keep your medications with you when travelling in case you end up in one country and your baggage in another!
Although the aim is to have a healthy and trouble free holiday, it is also wise to take precautions just in case. It is always prudent to to consider appropriate travel insurance and health care coverage when travelling outside the UK. Having proof of a diagnosis to hand may also help to avoid unnecessary investigations whilst away from home.
Once You are There
Whether you intend spending 2 weeks by the pool or being more adventurous remember whilst you might be on holiday your tendency to vaso vagal syncope is still with you and needs to be thought about. It is important to maintain the basics even when not in your usual setting. So the following tips hold true:
Whilst travelling on planes and especially if vacationing in a warmer climate remember to increase your fluid and maintain your salt intake. A change of routine is part of a holiday but may also mean that you break with normal hydrating habits and have to think about access to sufficient and appropriate drinks throughout the day
Keep an eye on your alcohol intake:
A change of scene and all inclusive packages can sometimes result in a little too much Sangria and a little more syncope! Beware too of fruity drinks with umbrellas which may seem harmless but still contain alcohol.
‘Mad Dogs and English Men go out in the Midday Sun’
So goes the old Noel Coward song, well the same goes for many others whilst on holiday. Develop a health respect for the sun if you are not used to it. Learn from Barbara’s experience and consider your particular triggers when planning activities and excursions which ask you to stand in the hottest part of the day. Similarly, be aware that some people react to sudden changes in temperature and need to use their isometric exercises more often.
If you can’t avoid certain challenging situations (such as waiting in line at the airport) or don’t want to because – frankly they are just too much fun! – then remember your isometric exercises or to change position if needed. Never be shy. Besides, remember no one knows who you are. You Are On Holiday!!