Vacation with Style as a Cancer Survivor

By Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDE June 25, 2014Pearls of Wisdom Blog

You need to get away. You’ve thought about it. You procrastinated. Now, just do it! The perfect vacation can be in your near future with some simple planning.

As a cancer survivor, use the acronym TIME OUT to prepare for your vacation. Good planning helps make your vacation safe, enjoyable, and restful. If preparation is a drag, ask family or friends to help you prepare. Follow these steps to a fun and safe time out!

Take your medications with you. Some survivors like to keep their medications in the original pill bottles in case questions arise about a dosage or indication. Bring a printed medication list too with the dosages and times you take each medication.

Invest in a pill organizer to keep you on track. If remembering to take your medications is a challenge, get a pill organizer with an alarm clock. You’ll never miss a dose again.

Manage your time. Pace yourself. Try alternating between activity and rest like sightseeing, sitting to read, going on a tour, and resting in a hammock on the beach. Don’t over schedule. Allow for extra time to enjoy the scenery.

Expect the unexpected. What if you need emergency medical care while out of town? Do you have a list of your health care team with their phone numbers? Do you have access to your medical records?

Put all your recent records including lab reports, imaging, appointment notes, advanced directives, and your doctors’ contact information on a USB flash drive. Take the flash drive with you for easy access to your medical records in case of an emergency.

If you don’t have a flash drive, ask your healthcare team for copies to bring with you. Keep all documents in one folder or file.

You may even want to locate the nearest hospital or clinic to your hotel in advance, just in case.

Outfit yourself. Pack any special clothing such as mastectomy bras, lymphedema sleeves, or clothes with SPF protection first. Make sure you bring plenty of sunscreen with at least an SPF 30 or higher. Throw a hat in your suitcase to protect you head from the sun.

If you get hot easily, bring cooling towels or a portable fan. If you get cold easily take a sweater, fleece throw, re-heatable gel pads, and a jacket. Look for exercise, walking, or swimming gear that fits you and your level of fitness.

If you need any special accommodations such as special parking or bathroom facilities make sure to check with your hotel beforehand.

Up your fitness game. Bring healthy snacks and beverages with you. Make sure you stay well hydrated whether you are lounging by the pool or sightseeing. Bring a cooler and freezable ice pack so you can take advantage of fruits and vegetables at area farmer’s markets. Review what restaurants and food options will be available especially if you have special dietary needs.

Schedule some physical activity each day, even if it’s a small walk. Improve your fitness level while on vacation. Plan for a healthy trip and make it happen.

Take time for memories. Take pictures, keep a travel journal, and meet new friends along the way. Vacation memories stay with you forever. Long after the beach view or mountain air goes away, the tangible reminders of your vacation can continue to refresh and renew your strength.

Start planning your vacation now! Have a safe and fun trip.

Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDE

Author Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDE

Nutrition Educator Margaret Martin is a Licensed Dietitian and Nutritionist in the State of Tennessee as well as a Certified Diabetes Educator. Margaret graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics and received her Master’s Degree in Nutrition Science & Public Health from the University of Tennessee. With more than 10 years of experience in Clinical Nutrition, Margaret has also worked in the insurance industry with WellPoint Inc. and Blue Cross Blue Shield providing telephonic nutrition consultations, service assistance, and web-based nutrition education. In her free time Margaret volunteers with the American Lung Association’s annual “Lung Force Walk" in Middle Tennessee. She belongs to the Oncology Nutrition & Diabetes Care and Education Dietetic Practice Groups of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

More posts by Margaret Martin, RD, MS, LDN, CDE

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