I thought I'd share my own strategies for travel - and especially air travel - since I've gotten pretty good at it over the past 12 years. I try to keep my carry-on bag as light as possible, though it is usually stuffed full.
First, there are my napping/resting accessories:
I carry a backpack which is the easiest way to carry stuff through an airport, though my husband needed to carry my pack for me several times this trip. Inside the backpack, I stuff a very thin fleece blanket, a small neck pillow, and this time, I added an extra U-shaped neck pillow that my son recommended (you can buy them in any airport gift shop and he was right - it did help). The fleece blanket I usually fold up into a small rectangle and use as a lumbar support on airplane seats - even if I were healthy, those seats are uncomfortable, especially when you are 5'1" and they are designed for 6' tall males! I could also use it if I got cold, but that is unlikely - since ME/CFS, I am usually too hot!
The neck pillow(s) I use when I nap, which I have to do even more frequently on a long airplane/airport day. I also bring an eyemask and earplugs. Once the plane is in the air, I usually put all that on, lean my seat back, put my feet on top of my bag, and do my best to rest/nap as best I can. My sensory deprivation kit! The pillow and blanket pretty much fill up my backpack, but they are lightweight.
The other group of items I carry in my backpack (besides a lightweight paperback or my Kindle) are related to Orthostatic Intolerance (OI). In addition to too much exertion going through airports, the other major danger in a day of air travel for someone with ME/CFS is even worse OI than usual, brought on by air pressure changes and being upright too much (if you have ME/CFS and think OI doesn't apply to you - it probably does. Over 97% of ME/CFS patients have some form of OI, basically an inability to maintain a steady blood pressure and heart rate due to low blood volume and autonomic nervous system dysfunction).
I wear these lovely-looking kneesocks (they come in much nicer styles now!). They are compression socks (you can also buy compression stockings; wearing Spanx-type tight garments around the pelvis area also helps). People with OI have difficulty keeping the blood circulating properly to heart and brain - it has a tendency to pool in the lower extremities, especially when upright - so the socks or stockings help quite a bit. You can buy them in any drugstore or online.
Other items, like the water bottle, are related to hydration. While it's important for anyone who flies to stay well-hydrated in that dry environment, it is critical for those of us with ME/CFS. Part of OI is not being able to hold onto fluids, so we need lots of fluids and lots of salt. Post-9/11 restrictions have made this more difficult! I used to bring a full water bottle and a large can of V-8 on planes with me (my son brought Gatorade), but now you can't bring liquids greater than 3 oz. through security. So, I bring my empty bottle, along with a small bottle of Elete, salt water drops that you add to your water (Elete is sold in tiny bottles that would meet airport regulations; I brought an almost-empty bottle - I buy mine on amazon) and fill my bottle with water from water fountains or just buy a couple of bottles of water once I am through security. My son does the same, plus he adds powdered electrolyte solution (we like GU Brew). I still look for V-8 in the airport before I fly or order tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix (without the alcohol) on the plane - both have lots of sodium plus potassium, too.
And finally, I wore my heart rate monitor while walking through the airport. It was enlightening, as always! I found that if I was carrying my backpack, my heart rate went up past my AT pretty quickly - that's when I handed it over to my husband to carry for me (I also had my laptop in my pack this trip which added too much weight for me - lesson learned).
So, that's my traveling kit. It all helps, though a long day of air travel is still exhausting. With all of these aids, it is easier and takes me much less time to recover.
I hope anyone else who had to travel over the holidays survived the experience OK!
Do you have any travel tips to add to my list?