The last two weeks have been a chaotic and wondrous around the world wedding attending adventure…
Where to start?! I’ve spent the last 2 weeks travelling around the globe and the last 2 days contemplating how to tell you about it. I’d planned to write about how I managed travel with a chronic illness, but honestly, I’ve got no content. Then I thought about not telling you about my trip at all, I’m a chronic illness blogger not a travel blogger. And finally I decided to just start writing and see what happens because actually, there’s no rule that says every post should be about being sick. If there was, this would be a severely depressing blog and hey, I can write about whatever I want right?
I feel the need to explain that I’m in that part of my life where everyone is just starting to sort things out. My friends are all either finishing up at uni, starting their careers, travelling or, as was the purpose of this trip – getting married! It’s an exciting time in life with so much going on but it can also be kinda depressing; the people I used to live next door to or even in the same house/hostel with are spread all around the world, living their own very busy and exciting lives and often it can be hard to keep in touch. Not to mention, the grass is always greener on the other side, so it’s hard to not find jealousy slipping in when you hear about the amazing experiences others are having.
The last two weeks have been a chaotic and wondrous around the world wedding attending adventure. I live in the tiny wee country named New Zealand and being so far away from everywhere means travel isn’t something I get to do much of. I was lucky enough a few years ago to spend 5 weeks in Asia but other than that I haven’t really left this familiar little place I call home. Needless to say, when I was given the opportunity to attend two separate weddings, in two consecutive weeks, in two different countries, I jumped at the chance. And then I checked my bank account. And then I thought about my commitments, like, you know, a full time job… And then I remembered I have Chronic Fatigue. And then, finally, I thought F*** it! and decided nothing could make me miss these weddings.
Travel can be a stressful thing at the best of times so the thought of doing it with a chronic illness doesn’t exactly fill me with joy and excitement. Quite the opposite actually, some might use the word “terror”. I mean, obviously I was excited, only it was masked by much larger, more predominant emotions and it took some serious mind games to get myself to relax and settle. Allowing fear to set in only worsens my symptoms… Catch 22 and all that…
Problem 1 (the bank account) turned out to be no problem at all. The first wedding was in the Cook Islands (Rarotonga), not too far from home. The bride is a family member of mine so my Mum, her partner and my grandparents also came along, taking a lot of the costs out of the equation for my partner and I. The second wedding (Tiruchirapalli, India) was mostly paid for by the hosts, so all we really needed to do was get ourselves to the other side of the world… seems achievable right?
Problem 2 (commitments) also turned out to be easy! Though perhaps a close call… I applied for annual leave from work as soon as I knew the dates, unfortunately I had to take it unpaid but as I mentioned before, NOTHING would stop me from getting to both weddings. My leave was accepted well in advance and I could relax as the holiday planning kicked in. Closer to the time there were a few incidents at work that made me being away a little more of a hassle for my co-workers, I won’t go into details here but luckily for me, the leave had already been accepted and there was no going back.
Problem 3 (Chronic Fatigue). I wish I could say I had some crazy plan to manage my illness and I thought it all out carefully etc. etc. etc. to make sure the trip went well. I did none of that. Much unlike myself, I chose to ignore it, pretend it didn’t exist, deal with it when it happened. It sounds like a terrible, terrible strategy, and honestly I’m not sure what compelled me to do it. I wish I could give you some magic secret tip for travelling with an illness but I don’t have one. There was no plan, no magic solution, I wasn’t even very good at minimising my stress beforehand. The punch line? I was fine. Didn’t get sick once. Tired? – well, I’m always tired. Jet-lagged? Most certainly. Dizzy? Yep! It was hot, and I was probably dehydrated most of the trip. But these are all normal things! Maybe I took a couple of extra naps than the other people I was with, but other than that, nothing! Maybe it was adrenaline and I’ll crash now that I’m home, who knows, but I made it through and even if I crash now, it was 110% worth it (someone please remind me that in a week…).
Visiting Rarotonga was my first ever experience of a tropical island and asides from seeing photos from other peoples’ visits, I had no idea was to expect. It’s not all that far from home really, New Zealand is a Pacific Island, Rarotonga is a Pacific Island (a lot more tropical, but still a Pacific Island) and the Maori people of New Zealand are thought to have initially come from the Cook Islands. That all makes sense, but I was not at all prepared for it to feel like home. I’m not even sure what I mean by “home”, but something just felt right and I absolutely loved it.
The second half of my trip was a visit to India. I’ve been to India before, but last time I was in the North visiting much more touristy places. The vibe and the atmosphere was completely different this time around and completely incomparable to my last visit. From eating home cooked meals, to attending a traditional 3-day wedding it was almost certainly a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you ever get the chance to go to an Indian wedding I highly recommend it! The whole thing was incredible.
Now I’m home again and back at work and the travel bug has most certainly bitten… here’s hoping I can go on a new adventure soon.
Does anyone have any actual tips for travelling with chronic illness? I’d love to hear them! Maybe next time I can think about it a bit more, make a plan and relax knowing it’s all under control…