Traveling with physical problems
June 2, 2010 9:40 AM   Subscribe

Traveling with physical problems that mean I can't sit/stand for very long: any other options?

I have a number of physical problems. In essence, I can not sit for more than about 20 minutes without ending up very stiff. If I sit for more than about an hour and a half, it means I really *can't* walk until I lay down for a while. If I have to sit for hours at a time and/or do a lot of walking one day, it takes me several days to recover; I might as well not even be there. This makes traveling difficult. But there are people that we'd like to visit.

I used to stand up and pace when situations called for sitting still, but thanks to further problems I can't do that anymore either. I can walk some amount of time, but I can't pace endlessly anymore.

Bonus problem: I'm very susceptible to motion sickness, but so far that isn't a problem that requires days of recovery, just meds that knock me out if I'm, say, in the back seat of a passenger vehicle, in a bus at all, etc. It's obviously not as bad as it could be, since I only needed motion sickness meds twice while on a 5-day cruise last week.

So yeah, my husband and I just went on a cruise. It was great: there was a bed right there, and I could go lay down any time I started to have problems. So we went back to the room multiple times every day, and then got up and went out again later. I was able to enjoy each day of the trip, without having to take several days out of our vacation just to rest and recover.

Since we got home, I've tried to look into other methods of traveling that involve carrying your bed with you. It looks like an RV will not be an option., did you know trains take FOREVER to get you anywhere unless you're on a major hub? Maybe we could find somewhere that rents out houseboats, but many of the places we'd like to go are landlocked and we're not sure we know enough about boats. (We don't know *anything* about boats. And motion sickness may be a problem.)

It would be so, so much easier if there were:
* some kind of speedy mass transit that allowed me to lie down while on the way to wherever we're going--so my husband doesn't have to do a lot of driving on his own, so we can get places quickly without wasting precious vacation time, and so we can enjoy the time once we're there.

* Ideally it'd be $600 or less to get us both to various places in the continental US. Advance purchase plane tickets look like they'd be about that much, but with 10 or 15 hours total travel time (to airport, through security, change planes, out of airport, to way).

Am I missing anything?
posted by galadriel to Travel & Transportation (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you clarify why it looks like an RV will not be an option?
posted by Ery at 9:49 AM on June 2, 2010

The Honda Element's seats fold down damn-near perfectly flat. Get creative with some eggcrate foam and bungees and you could make it even MORE bed-like. Rent/borrow/steal an Element!
posted by julthumbscrew at 9:56 AM on June 2, 2010

I sympathize, I have the same problem with standing and sitting. If an RV is not an option, what about renting a conversion van, massive SUV, or minivan? You could lie down on the back seat, or lay out a mattress of sorts. It would cost less than you think to rent-- rental agencies in the US practically force you to upgrade since the price of gas drives down demand for big vehicles.
posted by vincele at 9:59 AM on June 2, 2010

Get one of those child molester vans, they should offer enough storage and a serviceable place to lay flat during transit. The gas prices would probably kill you in the long run though.
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:40 AM on June 2, 2010

I would point out that part of the pleasure of train travel is the fact that it is a great way to see the country. The journey can be part of the vacaction - so in other words. I would not be so fast to discount trains.

The Silver Service covers much of Florda, and the trip to, say, Savannah would be a nice 24 hour trip IMHO.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:51 AM on June 2, 2010

(PS: I get horrendous motion sickness to the point I can't take a bus, but trains do not have this issue for whatever reason.)
posted by DarlingBri at 10:52 AM on June 2, 2010

If I have to sit for hours at a time and/or do a lot of walking one day, it takes me several days to recover...

...did you know trains take FOREVER to get you anywhere...

With all the inconvenience and down-time you must deal with on a regular basis, is taking a long train ride really so unthinkable?
posted by General Tonic at 11:30 AM on June 2, 2010

Response by poster: I'm too young for this crap. Yes, I have enforced downtime and I'm learning to deal with it. My husband is as young as I am, and consequently he works and has limited vacation time. Maybe someday we'll be able to travel leisurely on our way somewhere, but that time is not yet.

We'd like to get to specific places, not to travel and see the world. Honestly, we don't much like seeing the world; if that's all we're doing, we'd usually rather stay home. Home is a nice place to be. And if we wanted to travel for the sake of travel, well, cruising was *eeeeasy.*

But: there are people who are more frail than I am, and can't travel at all. There are cities where we have quite a few friends, we'd like to see them all, and it's unreasonable for them to all come visit us. Some people have been to see us several times and we feel it's "our turn" to shoulder the trip and go visit.

If we could go to see people, we'd like for the trip itself to be quick, so we can spend all the time with the people. If we have 7 days, we'd like to spend most of that 7 days with the people we're visiting--not 3 days there, one day to visit, and 3 days back. That eats up more time than just taking the trip and dealing with the recovery.

My husband is not comfortable driving large vehicles for any length of time; not even large passenger vehicles (ie, van). An RV is definitely out. It also seems unfair to tell him, "You go drive the 1500 miles and I'll just lay here, except for when I insist we stop so I can get out and walk off the stiffness." Or, "I'll lie down back here and take my dramamine so I can handle being in the back of a moving passenger vehicle; I'll sleep all the way. You hang out up there by yourself and get us where we're going, thanks!" Seriously unfair. Certainly, the world's not fair, but he should not have to spend days of his vacation doing all the work and essentially alone.

And again, we'd like to get places in a hurry, not to just to go out and vacation. Car travel over long distances can be somewhat fast--if you've got 2 people who can drive, and one can drive while the other sleeps. Not us. Maybe someday when he's retired and we have all the time in the world.

Part of what an actual bed allows is that I can really lay down in it, feet level with head; lay on my back, lay on my side, move every 15 minutes or so so that I don't get stiff in one position, etc. Car seats really don't offer the same thing, even if they fold down entirely flat. I'm certainly willing to go sit in an Element, but... *My* car has seats that fold all the way down--the most comfortable seats I've experienced in any passenger vehicle--and it's only slightly better than sitting, and not tolerable for long periods of time.

Life is complicated, dammit.
posted by galadriel at 12:25 PM on June 2, 2010

You could hire someone to drive an RV for you.

You could charter your own small plane.

These are expensive options, but you aren't really leaving a lot of room here. When high-speed rail is a thing that exists in America, perhaps that will work for you.
posted by millipede at 12:48 PM on June 2, 2010

The fastest way to travel in America is by flying. But unless you make enough money to charter your own jet, this isn't going to work.

My experiences with the train (IL to Denver, IL to Pittsburg) suggests that, on average, it's about as fast as driving. And since driving is out, I think the train is your only practical solution. It pretty much solves all your problems except timeliness.

The biggest problem -- judging from your comments -- is that you need to adjust your expectations of what's possible. I'd suggest just taking longer trips. Take 2 weeks off so that the time traveling isn't such a large portion of the overall trip.
posted by sbutler at 1:01 PM on June 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Move to the northeast US, where the most extensive passenger train network exists. That puts a lot of cities within a day's train travel. Or move to continental Europe for an even more extensive train network. Bonus if you've got friends in either regions. Beyond that, it sounds like you don't have many options that aren't chartered plane expensive.
posted by 6550 at 1:03 PM on June 2, 2010

The last airport I was in had a spa, and I know there are these frequent flier lounges that I've never been inside. I wonder if you could do 1.5 hr: travel to airport, print boarding passes (don't check bags!), go through security + 1 hr: lie down at spa or frequent flier lounge + X hrs: flight (take multiple shorter legs?) + 1 hr: leave airport, taxi to destination.
posted by salvia at 1:16 PM on June 2, 2010

When my grandparents would head south to Florida for the winter or north to NJ for the summer, they would barter with a college kid to drive their car. In exchange for the car and gas money and meals along the way, the kid would drive the car up or down. (I always envisioned some stoned out college kid partying up and down 95 in my grandparents ford granada, but...) I bet if you went to a local college on the ride boards you could get someone to split time with your husband on the driving at a reasonable cost.

Otherwise for $300 each you will have a very hard time meeting all your requirements and limitations. Fwiw, my wife got car sick looking at a car and would take dramamine about 20 minutes before we left for anywhere more than half an hour away. I have driven 8 straight hours with her nodded off in the shotgun seat and my kids in the back with their iPods in. That is what satellite radio was invented for. While there were times that driving through the night wiht everyone crashed out was a little "Hey, that's not fair", I learned to cherish my time listening to Sirius 32. My point is your husband may be willing to sacrifice and compromise knowing that you will both enjoy your vacation when you get there. Driving an RV can be stressful. But, if you can avoid having to back up, going forwrd sucks less.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:50 PM on June 2, 2010

Response by poster: If it can't be done, it can't. I was just hoping there might be some travel method out there that I was overlooking.

Thanks for the comments that basically involve taking short legs and resting between; they're good ideas. Unfortunately the impact of over-doing things is cumulative; once I sit or walk longer than I can tolerate, my tolerance goes to nothing until I basically get half a day of rest. So I'd need to take the trip in approximately 20-minute legs to avoid the several days' worth of recovery time, and you just can't make that happen when there's a plane flight involved. Or else spread the plane trip over several days...which, you know, lands me right back at "it takes too long to get there."

We don't have the money or vacation time to pay more, or to take longer vacations. (shrug) So, we just don't go. We do still have the option of buying tickets for people to come visit us; it unfortunately doesn't work in all instances, but we can at least do it a few times. And perhaps we'll have more of both money and time in a few years. Who knows?

you aren't really leaving a lot of room here

I think it's more realistic to say that I haven't been left with a lot of room here. Physical restrictions just keep hitting me harder. I've stopped saying, "We'll do [X] when I'm better," because it has become abundantly obvious that "better" is not going to happen.

So now I'm focusing on "what CAN I do, and how can I make it work?" Sounds like, with our current resources, going to visit friends and family is just not one of those things I can make work.

Thanks for all the suggestions.
posted by galadriel at 2:54 PM on June 2, 2010

My husband is not comfortable driving large vehicles for any length of time; not even large passenger vehicles (ie, van). An RV is definitely out. It also seems unfair to tell him, "You go drive the 1500 miles and I'll just lay here, except for when I insist we stop so I can get out and walk off the stiffness."
What about short breaks to eat, walk around together, chat?

As you're sadly aware, life isn't fair. Does it matter if it's "fair" if he's willing to try doing something that would let you two achieve the travel goals you've set for yourself at some discomfort to himself? Believe me, I don't like to drive. But if taking some lessons to become more comfortable enabled my wife and I to achieve some goals, you better believe I'd start working on it - and in fact I am doing just that. More slowly than I'd like, but still.

Have you asked him whether he'd be willing to do this?
posted by canine epigram at 4:26 PM on June 2, 2010

My MIL is perfectly healthy and capable but never drives on their vacations and their summer house is 1500 km away. The FIL does this drive 2 or 3 times a year and about 15 other 500 km weekend trips and neither of them find this arrangement strange. Are you sure your husband wouldn't be willing to drive an SUV or minivan with a mattress in the back and talking stops every 20 minutes? I could see stretching out on a double mattress in the back of my Equinox with out any difficulty. Heck if you can manage it why not just stay back there and show your support with some witty banter?
posted by saradarlin at 10:04 PM on June 2, 2010

Response by poster: Are you sure your husband wouldn't be willing to drive an SUV or minivan with a mattress in the back

I'm sure.

why not just stay back there and show your support with some witty banter?

Motion sickness. Dramamine. Unconsciousness.

Folks, I appreciate that you're trying to be helpful in probing the "husband doing the driving" thing. Let me be somewhat more clear: There are issues I haven't brought up, because they're not mine. Really, it just isn't an option.

And further, why should he have to be pushed to sacrifice more, more, more, when he already does sacrifice, adapt, adjust, and make accommodations for my problems every single day already, with about one complaint every couple of months? Seriously, people, this man is a marvel.

And it *still* won't get us where we want to go with enough time to spend there, so why even bring it up at this time? We don't have the vacation time to spend that much of it in transit. Again, maybe someday in the future there will be more time to blow on getting where we're going; maybe it'll be worth exploring the idea then.
posted by galadriel at 9:49 AM on June 3, 2010

« Older Latin translation of "I remain skeptical".   |   looking for an old self-published web book Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.