As a modern traveler and adventurer, you really have to know your body well before stepping out into the world to experience an adventurous trek. Especially now during this pandemic. You need to know how your body reacts under stress, how your body reacts with its circadian rhythm out of wack, and how it reacts on different and new types of food. This is all part of travel safety. I found that out the hard way a few years ago when I went deep into the Arctic to experience Finnish Lapland. Between gastrointestinal issues and what they now think were hypoglycemic fits, I got incredibly sick. This sickness caused me to experience Panic Disorder. Here’s a post I made to my private Facebook roughly six months after all of these strange issues:
“For those who don’t know, things have been hard for me (physically) this year. After getting horrendously ill and inadvertently starving myself in Finland, I was diagnosed with panic disorder. It’s something that I don’t like talking about, as I hate pointing out my weaknesses to people. (And trust me, I know that illness is not a weakness and that people fight and become stronger through these things, but it has just been ingrained in me for my problems to feel like weaknesses.)
Panic Disorder makes things incredibly tough for me, as it specifically makes it hard for me to travel. Currently, traveling is my love and my way of life. I have to travel for my work with the magazine I work for. The book I’m currently working on is about travel. And I’m ultimately re-branding to establish a more credible travel blog and ultimately a travel show….
So, this poses an issue. The beginning of this year, I was so upset. I asked Damian, in tears, “How can I find something I love so much and have my body deem it almost impossible for me to follow through with?”
You see, if not paid attention to closely, my eating habits and any lack of sleep can set me off into an attack and inevitably lead to me passing out. When not on a schedule with both sleep and food, just getting up and living becomes a very real challenge. Add in different environments and time zones, and my body has no idea how to respond. Just going to Disney World like everyone else does posed a very big challenge for me in March, but I did what I could to hide it and fight my body’s issues.
But, you know what Damian told me? He told me to use my own willpower to overcome my issues. Willpower is a truly strong tool. People have gotten through worse, and he knows how strong I am.
And he was right. I am so happy to report that I am getting better and overcoming this. I’m learning to work with my body by scheduling out my sleeping habits when I have to get on a plane. Same thing with my food intake. I made the choice not to take the sedatives I was prescribed for this unless it was a crippling emergency, and I haven’t had to take any of them since March.
And my issues are getting better the more I work towards this. I was able to go to Cannes in May with almost no problems.
And now, here I am in September having come back from Cancun… fine.
Six plus months of struggle and I’m finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. I just thought I’d share to let everyone know that things will get better. Nothing is ever easy, and when you are forced to fight for something you love, you appreciate it that much more more. Your willpower can overcome a lot. If you are determined and work towards your goal, you can accomplish wonders. So, believe in yourself! And don’t give up when things seem impossible!”
Now, these issues are two years behind me. I learned the difficulties that my body went through in different time zones. I learned the things that would set off my stomach trouble and got the appropriate medication to prevent it. I became so aware of how my body would react to anything and everything that I am now able to predict and prevent myself for suffering while abroad. I always carry snacks. I always have stomach meds when I travel just in case I need them. I always carry my blood sugar tester just in case. I always plan out my sleeping schedule on a plane to ensure I won’t go without sleep. And I can honestly say, after spending a month in Battambang in Cambodia on an archaeological dig, I’m fine traveling anywhere.
So, before you travel somewhere far, just check in with your body. Understand what can and will make you sick, and be sure you are 100% in control of you body before going on an adventure! If you want to make travel your way of life, be sure you take the time to understand how your body reacts in different settings. Knowing yourself is an integral part of travel. I hope you can learn from my story and see the world as safely as possible. Happy trails!