HOW TO TRAVEL WITH AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE

I didn’t realize how much I love traveling until I hit my mid 20’s. Coincidentally, that’s also when I started losing my hair in patches and had to start making some big lifestyle changes to grow it back. Over the years I’ve found ways to make traveling while on the Autoimmune Protocol and the Paleo diet doable for me and I wanted to share some of those tips with you.

ADJUST YOUR EXPECTATIONS

Things are different now. You can’t expect to travel the same way you once did and it’s important you come to terms with that before you take off on your journey. You may not see EVERYTHING but you’re going to see SOME things that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Embrace this and allow yourself to enjoy your new way of traveling.

GO ON A BEACH VACATION

I personally love, love, love city vacations so I’m surrounded by art, music and lots of unique shops and restaurants. That being said, when I was in the intense healing phase of my autoimmune disease, I would have never gone to a big city. They are draining and you usually need to walk everywhere you go. The whole point of a beach vacation is to rest and relax, so it’s perfect for those with autoimmune disease.

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Travel to cities you know focus on fresh and grilled foods. While we were in Spain there were plenty of places serving meat and vegetables, and I knew I could find something that wouldn’t make me feel awful. Along with that, take time to scour the internet for different restaurants in the city you’re visiting. Chances are you’ll find some with dishes that can be slightly modified to meet your requirements.

DON’T STAY IN HOTELS

My #1 recommendation to people wanting to travel on the Autoimmune Paleo Diet is to get an Air BNB or VRBO. These are typically stocked with pots and pans so you can cook for yourself. Head to a nearby market or grocery store and get food that complies with your diet. For fun, look up recipes you can eat that mirror the traditional food of the city you’re visiting.


MAKE YOUR TRIP LESS THAN A WEEK

I don’t recommend planning to travel for more than a week when you have an autoimmune disease. Travel can be stressful, draining, and if you’re anything like me, you push yourself to see everything possible. That can be exhausting and potentially trigger a flare, so forcing yourself to come home early is a good plan.

Exploring public gardens in Spain

Exploring public gardens in Spain

PLAN ACTIVITIES THAT AREN’T CENTERED AROUND FOOD

There is so much to do in cities that doesn’t have anything to do with food. Pack a compliant lunch at your Air BNB in the morning and head out on an adventure. Here are a couple non-food ideas:

  • Visit the most popular public parks in the area

  • Rent bicycles or a scooter to explore the city

  • Bring a sketchbook and draw what you see

  • Bring a notebook and write what you see

  • Explore an art gallery or history museum

  • Take an architecture tour

  • Go on a scavenger hunt for cool street art and take pictures of your favorites

  • Explore a local market

  • Head to the local library

  • Visit an an old church or cathedral


BUILD IN TIME FOR REST

It’s ESSENTIAL when you are traveling that you make space for breaks. If you’re struggling with autoimmune disease it’s likely you also struggle with fatigue. Set yourself up for success by planning out your day with several breaks. Stop at a coffee shop to read and people watch between activities in the morning and always head back to your accommodations for an afternoon nap.

Sketching a courtyard in Granada

PLAN TO HAVE DOWN TIME ONCE YOU GET HOME

No matter how careful you are when you travel it can be really taxing on your body. Don’t plan a deadline at work right after you get home nor to go out with friends every night. You’ll likely need a vacation from your vacation, and that’s totally okay. Give yourself some space and practice having grace for yourself as you bounce back.