I recently traveled to visit my family in the other part of the USA while I was suffering with dizziness and vertigo. While I was traveling with vertigo, I started making notes on the strategies that I came up with to minimize my discomfort and “get through it.”
This is a list of specific strategies that I want to share with you.
Preparing for the Airport
Give yourself plenty of time so you don’t have to rush and trigger your sympathetic nervous system while traveling with vertigo. If you get triggered into a stress response because you are rushing or running late, that will most likely make your dizziness and vertigo feel worse.
Wear shoes that securely fasten with a thin, non skid sole so you feel more stable while traveling.
If you get stressed, take a few breaths through your nose, instead of mouth breathing or holding your breath. That nasal breathing will help your nervous system calm down.
Going through Security Checkpoint
You can use the wheelchair reservation as a bypass to this problematic area.
Walking through switchbacks to go through security check point can exacerbate dizziness and vertigo.
One strategy is to walk slowly, finding a focal point for your eyes every time you turn around. Once you find a focal point, then walk towards it. Find another focal point as soon as you turn the next corner in the switchbacks that lead up to the security checkpoint.
Taking off your shoes and putting them back on, when traveling with vertigo, can cause falls if you are having dizziness, vertigo, or imbalance.
One strategy, when traveling with vertigo, is to sit down on a chair to take off and put on your shoes before and after the security checkpoint. By sitting down, you don’t have to bend forward which may trigger vertigo and you won’t have to try to balance on one foot.
Tip: I suggest purchasing a water bottle as soon as you get through the security checkpoint so that you reduce the risk of dehydration.
While Moving Through the Airport
While moving through the airport, there is a busy visual background with complex patterns and lots of moving people.
Try to stay calm and find a focal point as you go. You can use the head or backpack of the person in front of you. Finding a focal point is especially helpful while on a conveyor belt or escalator, instead of looking around. Make sure your focal point is close to you.
Pull a carryon that can stand upright on its own four wheels even when you are not rolling it. The carryons that roll on all four wheels are easier to roll along while you walk, rather than carryon bags that you have to lean to roll on only two wheels.
Hold onto the handrail on escalators, stairs, or moving walkways to provide an extra balance point in these challenging areas. Of course, make sure you wash your hands well with soap and water frequently while traveling since these surfaces are often contaminated with germs from other travelers.
Ask For Help
Ask for help if needed and accept help when offered when traveling with vertigo.
For example, a woman in front of me at the bathroom sink had her cane fall underneath the sink. When I saw it fall, I asked her if she wanted me to pick it up for her. She said yes and graciously smiled. I saw that the cane was purple – my favorite color and had four prongs (quad cane) so I immediately assumed she most likely had a stroke so I smiled saying, “I love this color!” Overall, it was a very pleasant exchange with a random stranger. It would have been very sad if she had attempted to pick up her can by herself and fallen down in the bathroom.
Laughing and smiling will help you stay calm, when traveling with vertigo, even while you are uncomfortable.
Whenever you have a chance to remember, make sure you smile to give your body the signal that everything is ok.
Follow some of these tips and traveling with vertigo will be a breeze!
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.