Travel destinations/activities with a broken collarbone
August 17, 2014 6:31 PM   Subscribe

A last-minute injury put a halt on our planned anniversary travel. What is the most fun/exciting/interesting/relaxing place we can go or thing we can do instead, given our limitations?

My husband and I were all set for a 12-day trip to Costa Rica for our fifth anniversary next week. We don't travel that much, even though we like the idea of it; something about the commitment of making plans has often stopped us. So we were really excited to do this. We also have an 18-month-old son who was going to stay with his grandparents for the duration, and we were looking forward to some time alone together. We just need a vacation generally.

This weekend, though, my husband took a fall and broke his collarbone. It seems the treatment for this type of break is simply to let it heal by keeping the affected arm and shoulder as still as possible, since you can't really put a cast on it. He is taking painkillers, but any movement of his left arm or jostling of his body is still really painful. This obviously makes it impossible for him to do most of the activities we had planned, like rafting, kayaking, even swimming—so we decided to cancel the trip.

My question is, can you suggest a different destination or activity that would be a fun diversion that he will be able to do? We had planned to spend a lot of time outside since that's what you do in Costa Rica, so that would be nice, although we'd be open to any type of indoor or outdoor activity. Hiking seems possible, but I don't know if it would hold our interest for more than a couple days or where the best place to go is. Going to the beach, certainly possible, but without being able to really go in the water, what would we do? What am I not thinking of?

Driving may or may not be an option—he thinks he could maybe drive in a week. I don't drive, so it would have to be him.

Our travel would be between August 25 and about September 5. We live in Chicago, and local would obviously be simpler on short notice, but any destination is really on the table. Assume money is not our primary concern, but we were going to spend about $3K on the CR trip (and lost a good chunk of it in the cancellation), so in that ballpark would be OK. We still have the option of having our son visit his grandparents, but if any destination comes to mind that would be good for very young children, we'd love to hear about that too. Thanks for any suggestions!
posted by zadermatermorts to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total)
If I were you I'd save the money you were going to spend on your trip (if it's savable at this point) and scale back -- any place you go looking for adventure is not going to be really fun in the circumstances you describe.

But why not consider a much more low-key kind of trip? If you still want to take a modest trip to celebrate your special occasion -- well, you're in Chicago and Michigan has lots of nice little towns that won't require air travel, and where the beaches will be the nicest they'll be all year during your projected travel dates. Take a long weekend and drive up to Grand Haven or Traverse City and watch a few sunsets, walk along the water, check out some lighthouses, and maybe he can hang on the beach in a lounger with a nice book while you swim if you want to. As a bonus many of the kids will have gone back to school so rentals and restaurants will be less crowded.

Otherwise, how about a low-key vacation that celebrates all of the options Chicago has to offer? Theater tickets, museums you haven't been to lately, maybe splurge on the sort of restaurant you only go to once in a blue moon?

I think in any case you're best advised to keep it close to home. Take the trip you've been really looking forward to some other time.
posted by Nerd of the North at 8:02 PM on August 17, 2014

Keep in mind that being belted in a car or plane for several hours can be uncomfortable for that kind of injury.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 8:39 PM on August 17, 2014

My mom had a similar break, though she's likely older than your husband, and she would have had a very hard time with travel of any kind that close the the injury. I would strongly consider a staycation - and with your 18-month-old out of the house that is no small luxury! - and do everything locally you've been missing out on as new parents.
posted by handful of rain at 8:43 PM on August 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

My ex broke his collarbone and he did not take it as easy as he should have when it was healing. His shoulder ended up not fusing properly and he eventually had to have a plate put in and go through the healing process all over again. I would strongly recommend that you postpone your vacation.
posted by vespabelle at 9:13 PM on August 17, 2014

How bad is the break? If it's more than a simple undisplaced fracture, you really should talk to an orthopedist who specializes in shoulders to determine if surgery might be needed. My bicycle tried to kill me a few years ago and the resulting clavicle break is visible in the top half of this x-ray (it was in three major pieces). The ER doc said it would heal by itself. The ortho doc said yes, it would, but I would be unable to wear a backpack or a guitar without pain, and I would lose significant range of motion in that arm.

He installed a Rockwood clavicle pin (visible in the bottom half of said x-ray). He removed it a couple of months later and my shoulder, after a bit of physical therapy, is good as new. Plus, I got to keep the pin and amuse/horrify my friends with it.

As for the trip, stay at home and don't let him drive.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 9:23 PM on August 17, 2014

I think long distance driving is not a great idea for as soon as he'd be out of the sling, a lot of people still feel more comfortable wearing a sling at that point in recovery.

What about thinking in terms of vacations for old people? They can still involve seeing awesome sights and relaxing. Examples of classic old people vacations: cruises - so that you can let the boat take you from place to place and then just wander around each port (or possibly take the guided tours if that's your bag). Or if you want to limit travel time to the destination, I wonder if the Trans Canadian Railway might be an option? Again, seeing cool scenery and places, the trips have your transport covered and you don't have to worry about doing anything too strenuous unless you want to.

It's a derail, but re: the note above, I don't want you to get too worried if you haven't seen an orthopedist yet (of course pretty much everyone with a broken bone should follow up with an orthopedist) - the vast majority of clavicle injuries DO heal without surgery, and even displaced fractures can heal without surgery.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:15 PM on August 17, 2014

Staycation: fancy hotel, sleep in, room service, fancy bath tub, foot massages, great restaurant... Rest. But in luxury and sans kiddo. Take a long weekend now, and a 'real' vacation later/next time.
posted by jrobin276 at 11:34 PM on August 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your husband's healing seems more important than a bit of child-free luxury.
posted by Cranberry at 11:43 PM on August 17, 2014

Re: losing money on cancelation - if you paid any of it on credit cards they might have an insurance option that covers you.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:28 AM on August 18, 2014

I broke my collarbone and had the same experience as vespabelle's ex. Still lots of pain/issues with my shoulder 18 years later. Nth-ing luxurious stay-cation in a fancy hotel sans kid.
posted by jshort at 7:50 AM on August 18, 2014

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