Sunday, 29 June 2014

Some of my travel toiletry picks

photo source: Sian Wootton
elf tinted moisturiser with spf 20 http://eyeslipsface.co.uk
Nivea mini roll on
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Coconut and Orchid mini Conditioner, Shampoo also available (smells divine)
Head and Shoulders mini (can be great if your scalp is dry)
All minis http://www.superdrug.com/icat/travel-minis-accessories also available at Boots, Tesco and Asda stores
Travel sized toiletries are fantastic for so many occasions from popping in your hand bag or gym bag and any kind of trip away from home, from a weekend break to 2 weeks in the sun. They're just the right size to help you be economical with packing space but also after a longer holiday you don't need to pack them to come home. Also if you are on a flight with only hand luggage then they comply with all the security regulations.

Nowadays you can get so many of your favourite brands in a mini size, especially for travel. However if they don't then many places do a range of empty mini bottles and containers that you can fill with your favourite products. You can even get them from shops like poundworld etc. 

Aussie Miracale Moist Shampoo
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Coconut and Orchid Shmpoo
Aussie 3 minute hair mask (for added hydration that doesn't take too long)
Simple moisturising Face wash
Original Source Lemon Shower gel
St Ives exfoliator (great for use before holiday too to prepare your sin)
Batiste dry shampoo
Palmers Cocoa Butter (I love the smell of this, literally yum)
Sensodyne sensitive toothpaste (great for all that ice cream eating)

Dry shampoo is a gift to any chronically ill person, who doesn't always have the energy or strength to wash their hair. Batiste is a great brand and they have many different kinds for different hair types. What I will say though is if you are taking in on a flight you will need to pack it in your hold luggage as aerosols are not permitted in the cabin.
Photo source: Sian Wootton
Coconut & Cream shower gel (the smell of coconut instantly reminds me of holidays)
Boots Fair Trade Cocoa Butter 
Once a day sun tan lotions can be a great idea for any one with Fibromyalgia and are very sensitive to touch, as you aren't having to reapply and rub your skin so much. P20 is great for many people and one I've used in the past but I came out in very funny sun tan lines which might have been an application problem on my part.
As for protecting your face against the sun I find a lot of sun creams too thick and therefore look for other products with a high spf. My foundation of choice is Max Factor Face Finity 3 in 1 foundation, it has an spf of 20 and as it is oil based will fair better if you are in and out of the water. Tinted moisturisers can be great but I find them a bit too dark (even the lightest) for my sick girl pallour. I am going to try a bb cream instead for sun protection and for a bit of coverage. I was thinking this one http://www.superdrug.com/bb-creams/garnier-bb-cream-miracle-skin-perfector-light-50ml/invt/282267&bklist= but I think a higher spf would be more beneficial. If you have any suggestions let me know.

Nivea 50ml spf 30 suncream (Superdrug)
Ambre Solaire 50ml spf 30 suncream (Superdrug)
Ambre Solaire spf 30 lip balm
Quicies nail polish remover pads (available at 99p store!)
Sudocrem mini
Make up wise try to avoid things that are loose, such as powders, blushers or bronzers as they will get jostled about whilst travelling and could cause spillages. Opt for more compact versions for your holidays. I adore my 17 cheek stamp blusher. You literally just stamp it on to the apples of your cheeks then blend with a brush. There is zero mess and it's really compact with a useful mirror too. Peachy tones can be better for Summer holidays as they don't  make you look like you've caught too much sun. Holidays bring to mind to me fresh natural make up and radiant skin. I never like to wear to much make up in warm weather anyhow as I know that it will soon just slide off. Opt for products that make your skin glow, primers and illuminators can be a great base for a bb cream or tinted moisturiser. I swear by Clarins Beauty Flash Balm to help perk up my skin year round. If you want to go for something a bolder look though then add a pop of colour to your lips. I find this also makes my eyes look bigger and is easy to get redoing.

Photo source; Sian Wootton
Make use of any sample products you have
Photo source: Sian Wootton
Available at Boots 

The top 2 are from www.amazon.co.uk
Bottom 2 are from www.boots.com

Lastly a good toiletries bag is a must. One that you can hang on a door can be really useful. Especially if it is only a small bathroom or has limited shelf space. I also love the following idea, a little bit of genius. How well would that work for camping holidays etc? And you wouldn't have to worry about dropping any bottles, which could prove difficult to pick up for the chronically ill person. 

photo source: Pinterest

I always buy new products but if you are concerned about any spillages you can try the following tip, or as my good friend Ali suggested  to put sellotape around all the lids.
photo source: Pinterest

Visit the links or any of the shops mentioned in this post to get any of the products mentioned.

What are your fave holiday products? Or Summer must have products?

Sian x

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The perfect travel outfit

Photo source: Pinterest

For me the perfect travel outfit is about comfort. No matter what mode of transport and obviously the longer the trip the more comfortable you will want to be. Of course that doesn't mean that you can't be stylish but just more understated. Planes/trains can be messy places so you don't want to make a mess of your best clothes. If you do want to arrive in style then I suggest packing a change of clothes in your hand luggage to change into at the airport/station. Two other things to consider are:

1. That it's a good idea to wear your heaviest items rather than pack them. So that could mean trainers and jeans in Summer or jeans, jackets and boots in Winter. If they're long boots then simply take them off on the plane for added comfort.

2. Remember planes and trains can vary in temperature. Sometimes they're boiling other times they're cold. So wearing layers can be really useful, as well as saving some space in your bag.

Photo source: Pinterest

Personally I can't wear jeans that often now because I find them too uncomfortable. I've never really favoured them for travel anyhow, nothing over 2 hours especially. So I like to opt for either leggings or jeggings. If you too struggle with these due to Fibromyalgia (a  painful condition affecting the muscles and nervous system that makes you oversensitive to touch) and these make you feel like they're strangling your legs then opt for looser trousers or even a maxi dress/skirt.

A scarf or Pashmina is also a great accessorie to have as it can be multifunctional. Again if the plane/train is cold, or for any other sick chicks who's body tempreture has difficulty regulating itself, then you can use it as a blanket. Or it can stop you from getting crumbs all over your clothes (seriously what's with becoming a really messy eater when you're travelling!) Or it can be rolled up and used as a pillow. Many people also use them to protect their throats and help prevent colds/sore throats, which can be really common after a flight. I always sound really husky the day after flying.

Photo source: Pinterest

Notice that on all the photos I've shown flat shoes that keep your toes covered. Why? Well first of all you don't want to expose your toes to any rogue suitcase driving as people whizz around the airport/station. Getting your tootsies bashed or ran over is never nice. Secondly, because again I reiterate planes/trains are messy places. If you have ever seen a river in the toilets from boys/men that have missed the bowl (which let's face it is more likely in a moving vehicle) then you will fully understand me. Again though if you want to arrive at your destination in your flip flops then pop them in your bag to change into.

If I am travelling to somewhere hot then I  like to wear a cotton dress over leggings that way I can simply take the leggings off when I get there.    

For more information on my choice of luggage see my previous post on packing your hand luggage only and packing your hand luggage. 

What are your favourite travel outfits?

Sian x

Monday, 23 June 2014

Hand luggage only packing tips

Photo source: Pinterest

Many people nowadays choose to travel hand luggage only and it does have its advantages. Not only can it save you being charged for putting a case in the hold, but there is also no fear of losing your luggage or waiting for your luggage. If you are travelling using public transport at any time during your journey it can be easier to manage. If you have ever traveled by train with a large suitcase you will know it's not easy. Especially if there are no lifts at the stations. What's more there is not enough space to store your luggage on a lot of trains and if the train is full with people with luggage or buggies etc you can be left standing by the door with your cases. So I certainly see the advantage there. From now on train journeys for me will be taken with as little luggage as possible. Whenever that may be.

However, when it comes to travelling with only your hand luggage there are many things to consider. Especially for plane journeys. First of all, of course, is familiarizing yourself with your airlines  policies and restrictions. Not just on the weight of your bag/case but also it's dimensions. This can really vary between airlines, so always double check. And if you are using a few different airlines on your trip then pack in accordance to the one with the biggest restriction. Also be sure to check whether you are entitled to 1 or 2 pieces of hand luggage. For example a handbag and a main bag. This does make matters easier but it's not always permitted, as I have seen many a person find out too late.

The first effective way of travelling using only hand luggage is to minimize the weight of your bag/case. You do not want to waste valuable weight on your bag/case before it has anything in it. You can get really lightweight cases now. Before you start to pack, weigh your bag/case to see what you have left.

photo source: Pinterest

Travelling hand luggage only is certainly an art form and a science. Like I said, I have never done so but I have been doing some research for this post. Choosing what to pack is even more of an essential task and where using a packing list can really help you see where you can cut items or choose an alternative version. Say for example rather than packing jeans you pack a lighter weight trouser or leggings. The best people to emulate are air hostesses, when they pack for stop overs, and there are plenty of tips out there from them. You can see some tips here and here. Whilst on this linked post, several cabin crew members share their cabin bag must haves. There is also this great blog post about packing lightly with a family. See also my blog post on packing tips.


I think the key tip is if it's not essential don't pack it! Likewise if it's a 'just in case item'. The exception being if it's related to your illness, in which case PACK IT! Obviously each trip is individual and will require you to take different items for each country/climate/culture however in today's globalized world you are never too far away from being able to pick up some basics should you need too. Taking the panic out of those 'but what if' items. This is where your research will again come in handy. Do you need to pack a hair dryer? Or does the hotel have one? Or if you're going somewhere hot do you really need one at all? The same with toiletries, does your hotel provide any?

Again, obviously if you might need something for your health or are concerned about catering to certain dietary requirements whilst you're away then of course pack them. To be honest, if you know that you do need to take a lot then you are best factoring in paying for a case to be put in the hold. It is better to have everything you need than trying to avoid extra charges. 

photo source: Pinterest

There are lots of tips too on how to create a capsule wardrobe that's perfect for packing light. So rather than packing lots of dresses (ladies) think about packing more separates that you can mix and match with many other things. For example, a tshirt that you can wear with jeans or shorts or a skirt, so you can mix up your looks but with fewer items. 

photo source: Pinterest

Many of us have heard that rolling our clothes is more space saving than folding them, as well as preventing some creasing. However, another space saving idea is to bag your clothes. Many experienced travelers now rely on packing cubes like the ones above, as they help compact your clothes and keep them separate from other items. You can also get clear ones. Another option that travelers rely on is to use vacuum bags as you can really pack more clothes into your case. 

When it comes to packing your toiletries, remember any liquids must be under 100ml and no aerosols are allowed in the cabin, so if you are travelling hand luggage only then sorry lads no lynx spray or ladies that means no dry shampoo or hair spray. As for sun tan lotion you will probably need to get some either in the departure lounge or whilst away to comply with the restrictions as most bottles are around 200ml. However you can get 50ml mini versions on some brands such as Nivea and Ambre Solaire so that can tide you over in the meantime.You will need to keep your liquids in a separate see through bag anyway, but remember to put it at the top of your luggage or even in a separate compartment. That way when you go through security it is easy to find and take out to the scanned separately. The same for any electronic items.

A great tip I saw was to invest in an adapter plug that also has a USB socket so you can charge all your gadgets etc but not have to pack all your cables. There are many portable charging devices available now too, which are a great idea from travelling abroad to a camping holiday.

If you like to read on your holidays then take a kindle or ereader (if you have one) rather than books. Or you can see if your hotel has a library, where people have left books they have finished with. You can also use your kindle to download travel guides.

Ladies, remember that items such as tweezers and nail scissors are prohibited items in your hand luggage. You may wish to get your brows and nails done before you go away. Use a strengthening solution on your nails to prevent breakages or even just nail polish can help your nails stay strong.

One way to get around what you can and cannot pack would be to purchase items in the departure lounge, once you've passed through security. So many departure lounges are like mini shopping malls. If you like to have a magazine to read purchase them at the airport. Just be aware that once you get to your gate your hand luggage could well be weighed. I know Ryanair do this (but I'm not dissing them as they have always been great with me on the special assistance front.) 


Always plan to wear your heaviest items for travelling, such as jeans, jacket and trainers, saving space and weight in your bag/case.
Photo source: Pinterest

On that note I think something that we are going to see more of is people being saavy and 'wearing' a lot of their hand luggage. Not layering up on clothes until you resemble the Michelin Man exactly (but you never know) but investing in jackets that have multiple pockets. Many now are even specially designed to hold kindles/ereaders as well as phones and documents. The one below is actually known as a travel jacket, it might not be the most stylish thing ever (ok that's an underestimation) but it does make travelling light a whole lot easier.



Photo source: Pinterest

Remember that on your return journey if again you have opted to not put any bags in the hold then you need to be as vigilant with your packing. We all know bags seem to weigh more on the return trip and that can be without any extra purchases. If you have bought anything whilst away though remember it has to comply with all the rules of what you can take into the cabin with you. So again you might have needed to buy those nail scissors while you were away but you will soon be parting with them.

So I hope I have given you some ideas about how you can travel more lightly and with hand luggage only if you need to. Remember though as a chronically ill person never scrimp on the things that you need.

Sian x


Saturday, 21 June 2014

At the airport and on the Plane


First of all before you leave the house double check you have all your essentials. Don't forget Kevin! (A la Home Alone.) Check windows are shut and doors are locked etc. Then put your keys somewhere safe in your hand luggage. 

If you have booked special assistance then before you check in you may need to visit the special assistance desk first. It depends on what services you have requested. Should you require it a member of the airports special assistance team can meet you at a certain drop off point, to help with luggage etc or to push you and help you through the airport if you are travelling alone.

If you are using your own manual wheelchair then don't forget to take any allan keys or repair tools out of your chair at security and put them them in the tray to go through the scanner. In fact you are best telling the security person and they will do this. 

Whether you are in your own wheelchair/ scooter or one of the airports you don't get taken through the body scanner. A member of the security team (a male for males and female for females) will do a pat search of yourself and your chair. They should ask you whether you are in any pain and obviously they will take this in to consideration. They will also take a swab of your shoes. Also be aware that while you are being searched that no one else from your party can come to move you until you have been cleared. 

If you are in an electric wheelchair/ mobilty scooter make sure you are complying with all the regulations, which you can see in your airlines special assistance guidelines.

If you have a longer flight you may want to purchase any snacks/drinks at the airport. Download an app called gateguru, which tells you what shops and restaurants are at different airports across the globe (not all are covered though unfortunately but you may be able to find out more at the airports website.)

Use your time at the airport to relax and try to have something to eat/drink. You will already have used up a lot of energy getting to airport and through check in and security so refuelling is important. If you do not use a scooter or wheelchair or borrowed one of the airports then make sure you properly sit down to relax as much as you can before boarding. Close your eyes and practise mindful breathing, shutting out the rest of the world every so often too to give you a mini refresh.

Put on any flight socks/ compression stockings before you get onto the plane as you won't have much room to get them on once on the plane.

If you have booked special assistance you may be boarded first or last. It depends too if you are opting to use the lift or are happy to climb the steps. Either way identify yourself as a special assistance user so that the cabin crew know and can take you to your seat. Remember the special assistance team that help you through the airport and to the plane are from a different company to your airline. This can be all the more important on flights that have a quick turn around, where pretty much as soon as the arriving passengers disembark the outbound passengers are getting on. I've been in the lift whilst passengers have been getting on board. This can mean that the allocated seats for special assistance users don't get mark as reserved and other passengers could sit on them at first. Depending on whether your airline does allocated seats of course; both in general and for special assistance users.

If you are using the lift then you enter the plane via the opposite side so the cabin crew will automatically know that you are a special assistance service user. Do not rush yourself. If you need to wait till the aisle is clear then do so. Or if you need the onboard wheelchair to get your seat then a member of cabin crew will help you.

If you have a cushion on your wheelchair don't forget to take it with you before your chair gets taken to the airplanes hold and don't forget to take it off the plane with you. It can be useful too for extra comfort for your back or for use as a pillow. Just another quick note on personal wheelchairs it may be useful to pack (in your main bag) a tiny tube of super glue should anything break. Last year one of my foot plates snapped. I'm sure it wasn't a handling issue though just from being in the hold of the transfer coach and plane.

Like I said in my post on hand luggage, keep your essentials close to you. Even if you have a separate bag that you can keep with you, if your main bag is too big. What you need depends on how you cope with flying and all the extra sensory stimulants. I put my travel sickness bands on as soon as I'm in my seat and always have a boiled sweet or lollypop handy if I need help to pop my ears or some mints if I start feeling a bit sick. I would also keep a sleep mask/ sun glasses and head phones/ ear defenders handy too if you have particular sensitivities to light and sound. On my last flight during take off I really suffered with the change in air pressure etc and felt realy dizzy and hot. Luckily I had some face wipes handy to help cool me down, so I thoroughly recommend them.

Also if you have an inflatable neck pillow, I recommend blowing it up before take off due to the change in air pressure or any dizziness as it will obviously make you more so. Or get someone else to help you with this. If you are suffering from any dizziness always wait until the plane has reached it's cruise altitude before leaving your seat, should you need to. Leaving your seat as soon as the seat belt sign is off can lead to a dizzy spell (curse you nervous bladder.)

Remember to put any electronic devices that you have onto aeroplane mode and also that you cannot use them during take off and landing. It always gets kindle readers that one!

During your flight try to relax and make yourself as comfortable as possible. If you can, put your legs up. This will obviously depend on seat allocation and how many others are using the special assistance seats. Or elevate them by putting them on your bag under the seat.

If you are sat by the window shut the blind if you are suffering from the brightness or a sleep mask. A hat can also be great for keeping the sun out of your eyes on a flight. Take care when moving from looking out of the window to inside as turning your head quickly between the different types of light can cause you to feel quite dizzy. 

If you are a nervous flyer then try and practise some mindfulness techniques, focus on your breathing or listen to some calming music. I have a fear of turbulence, the last time I flew I was just in a constant state of panic, which of course is not good for my other symptoms. I think this comes from a fear of being sick/ill as well. I know that sounds a bit crazy for a sick chick to say but I mean actually vomitting. I hate it. And when you suffer from motion/travel sickness the added stress of turbulance can obviously make you more fearful. I think the trick is to not let your brain catostrophise and get carried away. Sometimes our own thoughts can rush until we start imagining the worst possible situation. So try to distract those thoughts. Again do mindful breathing or focus on calming music. 

I have viewed a few videos on youtube about fear of flying psychology and ways to help you cope. I really recommend the ones by Tom Bunn a former aeroplane captain turned psychologist. There are also some from Virgin Atlantic that help explain all the different noises that go on during a flight as well as the movement of the wings. They've certainly helped me calm down but on the plane may be another story. However, I will certainly be trying out some of the techniques.

Do you have any tips for plane journeys?Or must do's at the airport? Please leave a comment if you have any tips.

Sian x


Wednesday, 18 June 2014

My packing list

photo source: Pinterest

With 7 weeks to go until my holidays (Kos again, my second home) I have started pacing already to be organized for going away. Just to be able to go on holiday is a really big deal when you have a chronic illness. It also takes a lot of planning though. Hence why I am starting so early. This week I started compiling my packing list and although I have already done a post on packing, I thought it would be good to share this too as it's more specific. Honestly, I seem to have so much to say on this subject and this travel 'mini' series is expanding by the day. Maybe I should become a travel agent when I'm healthier (always hoping.)

photo source: Pinterest

Like I said we're going to Kos again (one of the Greek isles). Were going for two weeks this time in August, so it will be HOT HOT HOT! So the following list bares those two factors in mind as well as the fact that other than eat out each night I plan to do very little bar relax in the sun with a book, have siestas, the occasional trip to the shop/bakery. I'm more of a dress wearer than separates, not sure when that happened, but I find it much easier and comfier.

Remember though each list is personal to you and your holiday but hopefully you may get some ideas from my list. Lads not sure about the bikinis though. Nor those half speedo thongs either, while we're on the subject.

So here is my list thus far:

15 days worth underwear

a few pairs of socks

6 bikinis (prob exessive to some but hey ho!)

2 pairs of shorts

4 vest tops

2 sets of sleepwear

10 dresses (or maybe more, it's a seriously tough choice)

clutch bag for evenings (big enough for phone, keys, purse)

pool/beach bag

flip flops for pool side

4 pool/beach side cover ups

2 pairs of dressy flip flops/sandals

Beach towel

Books

Filtered water bottle

Jewellery

Shaver and charger/ razor

plug in heat pad

Tens machine

Toiletries

Make up

Tweezers

Suncream

Plug adaptors

Insect repellent spray/ bands/ patches

plug in insect repellent for room

Insect bite cream

Plasters

Antihistamines

Hair bobbles

Throat spray (in case of sore throat after flight)

My Greek homework and notebook (which reminds me I must get practicing)


Toiletries

Toiletries bag

Shampoo

Conditioner

Shower gel

Face wash

Face wipes (such a God send on holiday and great to have in pool bag for keeping cool)

Deodourant

Toothbrush

Tooth paste

Moisturizer

Exfoliator

Witch hazel gel (just great for all sorts)

Cocoa butter (great body moisturzer)

Make up

Hand luggage

Tablets

Presecription/doctors note

all documents boarding card, reservations receipts, health card, insurance details, transfer details

 plastic envelope style wallet to keep documents in

Travel money/ card 

money to use at airport/ plane

Purse

Phone

Phone charger

Camera

Camera charger

ipod (load with calming music or whatever helps you block out other sounds)

Over ear headphones (or whatever works best for you to block out noise but not cause your head to pound)

Neck pillow

Travel bands

Flight socks

Extra socks

Pen

Tissues

Sweets/ cough sweets (my throat always get irtitated after a plane journey, leaving me with a croaky voice)

Sunglasses

Clear toiletries bag

Face wipes

Biofreeze

Stick on heat pad

4head roll on

Tiger balm

Carmex lip balm

Hand sanitizer gel

Hat



I also wanted to share this cute idea that I found on Pinterest. What a great way to get your kids to help with the packing. Especially for any parents with a chronic illness. Ok, you will have to vet what they've packed, Disney Princess dresses or Spiderman suits aren't always practical (sadly) but it will still be a big help

Remember when it comes to writing your own lists to consider your research and my pre-packing  tips (click on the links to go to my blog posts.) Also remember you may need to pack some of your own food if you have special dietary requirements. As for planning snacks for the plane, you can download a free app called GateGuru which tells you what outlets there are at different airports across the globe, so you can plan easier. 

Sian

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Packing your hand luggage


Photo source: Sian Wootton
Some things I'd pack in my hand luggage. It's by no means complete just what I had to hand for the photo. The amount of medication shown is a clear indicator of how incomplete it is!

What you pack in your hand luggage is really important when travelling, especially on a plane, as you don't have access to the rest of your luggage (if you have any.) Not only is this for security reasons; we all know the long list of rules, but also because for you as a chronically ill person it will contain your 'spoonie survival kit'. Nothing to do with safety; I'm not saying pack a parachute, just all your essentials to make the journey as comfortable as possible for you.

So there's the first 2 rules of packing your hand luggage always adhere to security and airline guidelines and importantly always pack your spoonie essentials. Anything that you rely on to ease symptoms. I'll put a comprehensive list further down in the post.

Your first port of call is medication. Not just what you need for your flight but for your whole holiday. It's always best to keep them with you. See my post dedicated to it here.

Photo source: Sian Wootton

Funnily the amount of medication you have will probably dictate the bag you choose and what else you can fit in. And let's face it that's A LOT of medication. Some airlines do allow you to go over your baggage allowance if you have exceeded it due to prescribed medication. Check the rules of your airline though. You can see this in my post on special assistance here

The type of bag you take depends on your preferences and whether you are travelling hand luggage only or not. I know many people now have carry on sized suitcases on wheels (hence why no one can stow their bags in the overhead bins.) I've never used one myself, either travelling as an able bodied passenger or disabled (but I will do a post dedicated to it as may be useful for others or myself in future.) Mainly because I don't find them practical. Especially while they had the one piece of hand luggage only rule. It would annoy me to keep going in and out of a case for documents or my purse etc. From a wheelchair user point of view I don't see how they're very practical either. It depends though on who is travelling with you. For example when I went away with my parents and sister my parents pushed 2 cases each with a rucksack and Mum's hand bag. While my sister had on her rucksack and pushed me with my hand luggage over the handles of the wheelchair. So easily manageable. Should you need extra help though add this to your list of requirements for special assistance. Someone can then help you with your luggage or extra mobility aids you may have (remember you are entitled to 2.) In my opinion a bag that you wear across your body, if you are able bodied, to keep your hands as free as possible to pull your case and get things from the bag, is a good option. Or a bag with big handles can work well to put the handle of your case through. A bag with a long strap (again suitable for wearing across your body) is good for hanging on the back of your wheelchair without it catching on the wheels, as it would just using the handles. This is how my bag as shown above got scuffed, which makes me sad and why I put the longer strap back on it, as it's a great bag to use for hand luggage. 

Photo source: Pinterest

The other reason I like to use a bag rather than a case is that I prefer to have my bag under the seat rather than in the overhead bin. I just prefer knowing that it's there and I have everything to hand which can be reassuring when you have a chronic illness. Another solution though would be to have a smaller bag with all your immediate essentials that you can have with you and your main bag stowed away. If your airline only allows one piece of hand luggage then just keep it in the larger bag until you get to your seat. 

Having your documents as accessible as possible is really useful. I used to keep all my documents that I needed for the outgoing journey in a plastic wallet and all other documents such as reservations, transfer details etc in another. The envelope type wallets are best, as I discovered after an incident with a ring binder type plastic wallet and a bottle of water. Luckily not too much damage was done but that's the last thing you would want. So I would have flight booking/boarding card, passport and repeat prescription together in one wallet to begin. Then at some point during the flight I would move transfer and hotel reservations into that wallet with my passport and put the used documents to the back of the pile. I was so organized I had each document placed in order of when they'd be needed. Including documents/ tickets for any excursions/ attractions. Then simply putting that days needed documents into the spare wallet to carry in my handbag. Keeping the rest safely in the hotel. Another option is to use a bag that ties around your waist. A bit like a bum bag but specially designed to carry travel documents/ valuables.


Photo source: Amazon

One disadvantage to using a large bag though is often you can find yourself rooting through it for ages, trying to find what you want. And let's face it there will be a lot in it. Whilst researching for this post I came across these (above) handbag organizers on Amazon. You simply put them into your bag and fill up the pockets. Meaning your things are more organized and therefore easier to find.

Photo source: Sian Wootton

Also remember that any liquids you pack need to be under 100ml each, this is particularly of note if you are only using hand luggage. Make sure your toiletries are within regulation. The great thing though now is the variety of travel sized products available, from toothpaste to hair gel. I'm hoping to do a separate post on travel products soon. Or you can buy empty plastic travel sized bottles to fill with your favourite products. If you wear contacts then again be careful of the size of your saline solutions. 

Remember all liquids must be kept in a see through bag. I like to use the one above. It was from a gift set of Charles Worthington travel size hair products. The above items are just what are in it for now. However when flying I use it for some aromatherapy roll ons to help any pressure headaches and calm me down. My biofreeze roll on for any sore muscles, which inevitably happen. Anti bacterial hand sanitizer gel is also great for planes. Also I pack a moisturising lip balm, like carmex as the filtered air on planes can cause dry/ cracked lips. For this reason I know a lot of people also carry facial moisturisers. There are a lot of moisturising/energizing spray products that claim to be great for use on planes, however I think you need to be careful how you use them. Spraying products on a plane seems a bit rude to me. Us spoonies can have a strong sense of smell anyway but subjecting others to it when there is no fresh fair seems a bit unfair. That could just be me though. I guess a way to get around it is to spray the product onto your hands first. Also, if you're using a tube of moisturiser be careful of the air pressure expanding the tube and causing it to rush out when you use it. I know a lot of people will also keep the majority of their make up in their hand luggage too. 

Some spoonie survival essentials to pack in your hand luggage include:

Neck pillow (I have an inflatable one which saves space but is still comfy)

Over ear headphones/ear defenders (to block out plane noise or noisy passengers)

Flight socks

A extra pair of socks
in case of cold feet or a small pair of slippers

Straws for your drinks if you struggle to hold your cup

A scarf/ pashmina is a great way to keep warm

Travel sickness bands

Essential oils 

Heat pad (one of those stick on ones)

Face wipes/ wet wipes (great for keeping fresh or cool) 

Sunglasses ( for light intolerance especially if sat by a window, a hat is also good for this)

Snacks (eat when you need to not just when the trolley comes around)

Drink (to be bought in departures or if you have a filtered water bottle fill it up in departures)

Photo source: Pinterest

My next post I will be sharing a more comprehensive packing list. 7 weeks to go and I'm starting to pace and prepare myself. 

So stay tuned. Please also feel free to share your own travel tips in the comments too.

Sian x


Friday, 6 June 2014

A night at the theatre

Photo source: Sian Wootton

Something fantastic happened the other week (Wow time seems to be flying by lately). I was able to go out for a night at the theatre. Just getting out is a big deal. So this was an even bigger deal. Firstly because it was around a 45 minute drive (not that I was driving) each way. Then of course there's the sitting upright without having my legs up for the duration of car journey and the show. And all the extra sensory stimulations, lots of people talking before hand, the music, the lights. The negotiating the crowd in your wheelchair. 

Photo source: Sian Wootton

The getting all glammed up before hand too, takes up a lot of spoons. I had to do my make up lying down and then have a rest before getting changed into my gladrags. There has been so many occasions where I have used up all my energy getting ready to go out and then not actually had any energy to go out. Which is always disheartening. Of course I had my heels on too. My glitzy strictly Princess ones as made by Glam it up Laurna. Not whilst walking mind. Heels and wheels! Strictly shoes for a Strictly show. Yes, I went to see Pasha and Katya from Strictly in their own touring dance show. 

I am a huge Strictly Come Dancing Fan. I love it, it makes me want to dance. I went to see them last year too but at that point I could still walk. But after having such a great evening last year I was determined to try and make it again this year. 

Going to the theatre can be a bittersweet experience for me having worked in the theatre and having to leave my masters degree due to M.E. Let's face it not many people get to 'just visit' their old professions. If you were a lawyer you wouldn't be going into a court room. Well unless you were battling a court case. However when you had a job that was also a big part of your interests and social activity it can feel very strange to be back in that environment. Obviously being well enough to go is always the main issue. As well as being worried about falling asleep during the performance. How rude would that be? But of course it would be no comment on the performance. 

I always found it wierd enough watching a show as I would be analyzing it. Sometimes I'd even be cueing the show in my head. The singer Alfie Boe was once misquoted as saying 'he hated watching opera'; when what he meant was he would rather be the one on the stage. And whilst I wouldn't want to be on the stage I understand his frustration as I want to be working in that environment. So now that I can't work at all it can obviously be a bit of a slap in the face. So at times it has been something that I have purposely avoided, which is sad as it used to be my  favourite past time. 

Photo source: Sian Wootton

I have managed to go to the theatre a few times since being ill though and yes I did feel left behind in a way. Last year just before my M.E got more severe I went to see the same show and loved every second of it. For the first time in a long time going to the theatre was 'just for fun' again. I'm not sure if it was because it was a dance show and therefore a little removed from my remit that helped though. And of course my major crush on Pasha didn't harm matters. So when they announced they were touring again I jumped (well as best I could) at the chance to get tickets and hoped and hoped I'd be well enough to go. And luckily I was and I had a fantastic night.

In the week leading to the event I was really careful and made sure I rested even more than usual. I was so determined to go. I knew it was a big ask but hey it was for Pasha! (And Katya too of course.) I limited my activity and made sure I had no other plans that week and even limited my social networking time; all to give myself a good chance of going. I coped far better than I had anticipated, which was a relief and also amazing at the same time. 

I finally recieved my blue badge a few months back, which has made life on wheels that bit easier. The disabled bays at the theatre were really poorly marked though, no definite bays, just a small sign at the end and 'disabled' in mostly worn away letters on the ground. It looked like a bus stop/lay by- infact there was even a bus parked across it. Luckily there was just enough room for our car. Just as we got out of the car, the heavens decided to open with heavy rain meaning my chair was soaked before I even got in it. Nice! So a trip to the loos and making use of the hand dryer was our first port of call. It's a good tip actually. Another good tip put into use was to take an extra cushion for my back to help with sitting upright for that long. We had booked a wheelchair space and were kindly escorted to our seats. I was worried that with being slightly higher up I was blocking the old dears behind me's view ( I could not deny them the gift of Pasha) but they said not to worry, one even jokingly tried to kick off, haha. The other asked if she could use my handles for her coat and bag, which was fine by me. She said I was very handy. 

As for the show, I loved it. I laughed and cheered and even tried to do a wheelchair wiggle. The only time I struggled is when there was a local dance school performing and the lights were too much as they kept moving up and down quite fast. So I had to look away. At one stage in the show they asked 3 ladies to volunteer to go up on stage and get to dance with Pasha. Well you can imagine that I was cursing the chair at that point. What an opportunity to miss! 

Photo source: Sian Wootton

However as you can see I did get to meet them afterwards as they come out to sign programmes. This year Pasha and some of the other Strictly stars took part in Sport Relief with some Paralympians, which was great to watch. I told him that I had really enjoyed seeing that and could he take me for a spin. Well if you don't ask you don't get. Unfortunately I didn't have a 'spinny' wheelchair but he said he had enjoyed the challenge and he did look over my chair to see if he could. They left their seats to come round to me for a photo, which was kind and he did push me a bit which made me  giddily say "come on, out the door." Haha shameless. And of course Katya loved my glitzed up shoes. So did some bloke walking past me too, which made me giggle.

So all in all I had a brilliant night. And the best part, well besides meeting those two beauties, was the post exertional malaise was not as bad as expected! Woohoo!! I was so shocked. After being so ill after ME awareness day I thought I'd really be in for it. But asides from an increase in fatigue and a bit more pain than usual I did well. Again I made sure I rested a lot to help the recovery but I was able to get down stairs each day and was able to feed myself. So a big Brucie bonus. Time will tell whether that is a good omen but I'm just so made up by the whole experience. The worst pain was actually in my face from smiling and laughing so much. 

Sian x

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The M.E Bookclub

Photo source: Pinterest

Do you have a chronic illness and love to read? Yes and Yes? Or Yes and only when my brain fog let's me? Or yes and only when my concentration is good? Well no matter which one you answer here's some news to help you share your love of reading. Introducing The M.E Bookclub!! Bought to you through www.goodreads.com 

"The M.E Bookclub is a place for spoonie's to share their love of reading. See what others are reading, suggest good reads and share them with each other.

Books can be expensive and unfortunately most of us are financially constricted, so here's a chance to literally share your love of books with one another."

So how will it work? Fundamentally, if you are interested in reading a certain book then you can post a request in the groups forum. Then if someone else has it and are happy to loan it or give it away then they can message one another (goodreads has a messaging service) to arrange. Likewise if you have a book to loan or give away, simply post it on the forum too. Unlike a regular library there's no deadlines either. We all know and understand the limits of chronic illness so can be patient with one another. As long as a book that the loaner has requested as wants returning after you have finished reading it is returned then everyone is happy.

You can also add books you're reading or read to the groups book shelves to give other readers recommendations. Through good reads you can also see ratings and reviews, should you wish to know more. Goodreads will even give you personal recommendations for more books based on your reads and let you know about new books by your favourite authors.

And what about kindle's? If you have a book to share that is on your kindle then this can be done too as long as the other person has a kindle too or an ereader app to download the book. Loans through kindle last for 14 days and can only be borrowed once. Unless you download it to an ereader. All details about how to do this can be seen here. I will also put the link on the forum of the group.

Sound good? Want to get involved. Well firstly you need to register with Goodreads, which is really easy as you can log in through Facebook, Twitter, email or Amazon. Then search for The M.E Bookclub and request to join. You need to answer a simple question which is 'are you chronically ill and love to read?' Don't worry it's just a requirement of having privacy setting on the group. Then I'll confirm your request and you can start sharing your love of books and putting in requests. Or simply just looking for your next read. If you want to have a nose at my page first before you sign up then you can do so here, 


Photo source: Pinterest

There are a few rules just to keep order and by becoming a member you agree to uphold the rules. Mostly they concern respecting each others property. If you loan a book then look after it. Also respect that you may have to wait until the loaner can get to a post office/post box. And that all of us read at different paces so may need the book longer. If you do loan a book that the loaner has requested they want returned after you've read it then importantly make sure you do (again within your abilities). 

My regular readers will know that I hate a blurb (the bit that gives you a synopsis of the book) I always feel it spoils reading it. If you do wish to know more then this can be easily seen my searching the book on goodreads and you can also leave reviews on there too. 

Photo source: Pinterest

So if you're still interested then get yourselves on goodreads and request to join.  Here's the clubs page, where you can request to join: The M.E bookclub 

Sian x