I wanted to write this post as I was preparing to travel and give you a day by day breakdown... but then life happened. I ended up having a flare two days before traveling. Not good, not good at all. So I will write out what I usually do as well as what I ended up needing to do this time around due to dealing with the flare. The unpredictability of flares is exactly why I over plan my life the way I do and why I pack such an intense backpack. Being prepared gets me back on track so much faster and back to enjoying my life. A few minutes of preparation each week can mean an entire week back for me... so worth it!
What I Usually Do
These days if I am traveling last minute then I won't be taking the pups more than likely (unless it is an emergency) so there is less to pack and less to manage. This makes life a little bit easier. Since I already keep my hygiene kit (and most of my carry-on) packed I can pack from start to finish in less than an hour, in a pinch. I don't like to do this as it can cause extra stress which can make me more symptomatic. Plus, the rushing around will make it a lot more likely that I forget something. For just a weekend away though it isn't usually an issue.
For the dogs: I just grab the dogs' diaper bag, which stays packed, so that I can drop them at my mom's. Their diaper bag has everything that I usually put in my carry on pet bag as well as almost everything from my suitcase pet list. All that needs to be done is toss in the leashes, a few toys, Isabel's ball, fold down the pet pen and double check that I refilled the food container and they are ready to go. This takes about 5-6 minutes typically which is much faster and less stressful that having to pack from scratch! When I get back from a trip I put away the few things that don't stay in the bag and refill anything that was used so that we're ready to go again the next time.
My bag: I put my hygiene kit, the medicine containers for the days I will be gone (each day's organizer pops out for easy carrying in my purse or carry-on... it's pretty awesome), a pair of PJs and a set of clothing (including accessories, shoes and a handbag) in a dufflebag and I'm pretty much ready to go on this front.
All that's left is my carry on/backpack. For that I need about 10 minutes as I have to move any liquids to the liquids and gels bag I keep in my closet (if I'm flying, (usually last minute trips without the pups aren't air travel), add my passport and tickets/itinerary to the front pocket and put my laptop in the holder. I might add a set of clothes to my bag as well if I am flying, but like I said, last minute travel for me is rarely flying. Everything else is already in my backpack more or less all the time. If I want to add my travel blanket and pillow that is a quick fix as they are stored away for easy access in my car. You'd be surprised how often a blanket comes in handy in your car...
Most of my travel isn't done last minutes though, I prefer to plan out travel so that I can enjoy my time off as much as possible. For normal, planned trips here's my routine:
I will begin to pack a few days ahead of time, if I can. For me this means doing an extra load of laundry, getting some extra chores done each day so that I have a clean house when I leave/come back and pulling out my packing list. Since I keep my hygiene kit pretty much packed it takes only a few minutes to run through it all and make sure that I don't need to refill any of my bottles and jars in the bag as well as make sure I have my meds ready to go for the trip. Doing this a few days before will allow me time to stop off and pick anything up that I may need on my lunch break at work or on the way home which reduces stress.
The dog's 'suitcase' items and my hygiene kit are the first to go into my suitcase as I won't need any of the items in them for the next few days. Other items I am unlikely to need get added at this time as well. Most of the time I try to get this portion of the packing completed on the weekend if it works with my schedule so there is less to do during the week. Clothing I add to the suitcase as the items I need get laundered. Once I have added all of an item (such as shirts) on my list to my suitcase it gets checked off.
The night before we travel I make sure to give the dog's I-Go-2 a wipe down and add in their leashes. I also run down my list of chores to make sure that everything is clean and nothing will be smelly and gross when I come home. This means doing the dishes, cleaning out the fridge, taking out the trash, and running a last minute load of laundry with linens and any random clothing that I need when I return. Hopefully the rest of the chores for the time I am gone will have been handled already. I will then put my suitcase and the girl's carrier in the car. Mornings are not my strong suit. I am kind of grumpy, definitely forgetful and symptomatically worse in the morning. For this reason I try to prepare for the next morning the evening before even when I am not traveling.
My carry on is the last thing to be packed. This is pretty much exactly like when I am traveling last minute except I pack the dog's carry-on bag, the travel blanket and pillow as well as the clothes that go in my carry-on bag (should I be flying) all at once. Isabel's ball and my empty water bottle are pretty much the only things that gets packed (other than potentially putting food in my bag) the morning of travel.
A few days before I travel I push water pretty heavily and make sure to eat more sodium than my usual. This helps bump up my blood volume as well as blood pressure as my bp can drop more than normal during air travel. I also lay off any caffeine that I may have been taking in previously. Sleep is pretty important all the time but when I am about to travel I make sure to be very rested for a few days to not add on to the fatigue travel will cause. Being tired, stressed and dehydrated is about the worse combination for me when stepping into an airport as all the standing, walking, pressure changes, and the air quality of the plane itself will just add insult to injury and likely trigger a flare.
What I Did Due To The Flare
I ended up needing to head in for an IV infusion a few days prior to travel this time around as my bp and heart rate were suggesting I might be dehydrated and was definitely flaring. The IV wasn't enough to stop the decline in my health though. I ended up continuing to salt load with electrolyte drink powders and bottle upon bottle of water for the rest of the week, barely keeping my symptoms in check enough to travel. Luckily, I had already packed quite a bit before this flare hit so it was just a matter of trying to get in a few extra chores every day... not going to lie though, I ended up sleeping in a linen-less bed the last night as I was simply too exhausted to wait for the linens to be done and was in too much pain to sleep on the couch. Such is life, I will just have to put the linens (which are still in the dryer) on the bed when I get home. Other than that, every chore that 'had to' get done was completed. The extras that I would normally do to make the coming week easier didn't get done of course but that's ok.
Getting everything done came at a cost though. When I am having a flare sleep isn't always easy. I have intermittent insomnia even when I am not having a flare but when you add in a flare it gets pretty bad. I can be lucky to get a few hours a night since I have to get up for work. This usually only makes the flare worse as I am not getting the rest my body desperately needs. If possible I will take a day completely off of work to get in some of the much needed rest. Either way, during a flare I'm exhausted and once I'm asleep I can sleep for 10-12+ hours easily, but getting to sleep... that can be difficult. The pain, nausea and heart issues make it difficult to fall asleep. So... I ended up getting on a plane exhausted and dehydrated despite my best efforts.