By Patti Schmidt
People with CFIDS (PWCs) are hard to please when it comes to travel. We
usually don't do well flying on airplanes, sleeping in strange beds or eating
unusual foods. Sightseeing is difficult because we tire too easily. Frequent
symptoms often make us "armchair travelers"; we find it easier to watch travel
programs on TV or read travel magazines than to actually take a trip. And
heightened safety concerns due to the world's war against terrorism have many
people looking for less vulnerable ways to vacation.
But after traveling frequently over the past 15 years, I've found a way that
works better for me than planes, trains or automobiles: recreational vehicles
(RVs). No matter what kind of RV I've ever used - mobile home, trailer or even
pop-up tent - it's been a pleasant experience.
First, the benefits: You have your bed right there with you. You can bring
food you're comfortable with, and you'll usually have a microwave, an oven and a
gas cook top. Your meds are within easy reach. You can stop and rest any time.
You can stay in most campgrounds for as little as $4 per day with a full hookup
(water, sewer and electric). You can "boondock" (stop anywhere with no hookups)
for absolutely nothing, at turnpike rest stops or a pretty spot next to a river.
Wal-Mart and Cracker Barrel Restaurants let RVs park over-night for free. Some
of our most memorable RV experiences were boondocking near the sea, the
mountains or looking out over a lake.
You have many choices when you bring your home with you. My husband and I
recently visited good friends who live near Norfolk, Va., boondocking in their
driveway for two nights (we cheated a little, plugging in an extension cord to
an outlet in their garage so we had electricity). Since our RV had everything we
needed to go about our daily business, we were able to sleep comfortably, take
showers and make coffee and fruit salad for breakfast and salads for lunch while
our hosts were at work.
We took our friends and their son to dinner in the rig, a big hit. Later that
evening, Sean's college friends stopped by to see it - many people haven't seen
the inside of an RV, and are curious. By the end of the evening, the kids were
diligently trying to figure out how they could afford to rent one like ours to
go on a coed camping trip. Last I heard, they were headed west.
After our visit, we stopped at nearby Yorktown Battlefield. Our day was a
good example of the value of traveling in an RV for PWCs.
We left our friends' home in early morning; Yorktown was a mere 15 minutes
away. After taking stock of my energy level, I tried to decide how much I wanted
to do that morning. I could choose any or all of the following: go to the
visitor's center and see a 16-minute film describing the battles; stop in the
store which offers books, trinkets and assorted touristy knick-knacks; drive
around the battlefields; or take an hour-and-a-half bus tour with an experienced
Since we had our own more comfortable way to drive around, I ruled out the
bus tour. We parked in the parking lot, and I decided to see the film and visit
the bookstore. After that, we drove through the small roads surrounding the
battlefields, armed with a map of the site and a bit more knowledge about what
we were looking at garnered from the reading we did at the bookstore. Laying on
the sofa and sipping coffee, I enjoyed the spectacular views through the RV's
Then I took a 2-hour nap while my husband drove toward the next campsite, a
beautiful beachside campground at Camp Lejeune, N.C. (My husband is retired
military, so we're allowed to camp there). When I woke up, we stopped for lunch,
getting some extra barbecue and coleslaw to put in the refrigerator for another
After lunch, we had just three hours to go. We reached our destination about
4:30 p.m., so we had time to visit the base exchange, the military-run
department store on post, and the commissary, the military-run grocery store.
With plenty of pantry and refrigerator space, and a small freezer, we bought
food that was easy to cook and store. By the time we arrived at our campsite at
about 6:15 p.m., I was ready to sit down, eat and take it easy. We ate ham,
salad and coleslaw for dinner.
After washing the dishes in the double sink, I took a shower and changed into
comfy pajamas to watch the 16-inch television. I turned in at 11 p.m. to the
queen-sized bed in the RV's back bedroom. David stayed up a little later to
watch a movie on the VCR, so I closed the pocket door. The mattress was as
comfortable as mine at home, and I drifted off to the sound of the sea.
For more information on RV travel, visit
http://www.rvia.org/, the Web site of the
Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA). This site offers general
information about RVs, guides for buyers and renters, a listing of RV shows
around the country and free videos, newsletters and publications. Their mailing
address is PO Box 2999, Reston, VA, 20195-0999.
Other Web sites include
http://www.woodalls.com, which offers a broad range of
information related to the RV life;
http://www.rvzone.com/, an all-purpose site
which includes information about RV rentals and sales, campgrounds and resorts
and clubs; and http://www.rvsearch.com/,
a Web site devoted to selling new and used trailers and RVs.
Patti Schmidt is a member of the Board of Directors of The CFIDS
Association of America.
Talk to your doctor. He
may make suggestions or prescribe medicines (for sleeping or pain) to make
Check your health
insurance. Make sure you'll be covered in case of medical
Go non-stop. When flying,
try to avoid layovers and plane changes. Pick a seat with extra leg room. And
ask for a wheelchair in the airport.
Bring vital info. Carry a
list of your doctors' names, medical prescriptions, home pharmacy phone
number, prescription numbers and insurance carrier information.
Pack lightly. The less
you bring, the less you have to lug around.
Rest early. Don't
schedule too much on your first day of vacation. It can wear you out for the
rest of the trip.
Rest often. Pacing
yourself every day can make the whole trip easier. It's easy to overdo it, so
make a list of activities you can handle and stick to it.
Have fun! If you've done
your homework, this part should be easy.