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16 Travel Tips for People with Bipolar Disorder

When it comes to managing bipolar disorder, avoiding potential triggers is key. This is especially true when you’re away from the comforts of home. Here are 16 tips to help prevent bipolar symptoms from ruining your vacation:

1. Get plenty of rest

Going to a different time zone? Try to gradually adjust your sleep schedule a few days in advance to match that of your destination. Pack your necessities well ahead of time to avoid stressing out and scrambling.

2. Travel on your schedule.

Opt for a first class flight, pick a time when you’ll be well-rested and avoid layovers if possible.

3. Bring backup medication.

Flight delays, long lines, and unruly passersby can extend your travel time. Be sure your medication lasts through it all.

4. Eat right.

While traveling, dietary options are limited and there is plenty of research suggesting processed foods are contraindicated with those who have a mental illness, especially mood disorders. When on the go, try to select a salad at a food court or nuts and fruit at a kiosk or rest stop.

5. Reach out for help.

Don’t be afraid to ask family or friends for help with packing, transportation, or preparing your home for your return.

6. Learn from past experiences.

What potential situations might you encounter? How can you avoid them? Think back to past triggers and create a plan of action should they reappear.

7. Pack stress-relief items.

You can’t avoid every stressful situation, but you can plan for them. Pack nutritious snacks and meals for long trips. Download your favorite songs and movies to distract you from potential triggers. Ebooks and handheld games are also smart choices.

8. Consider using a sleep aid.

If you’re afraid of symptoms cropping up during a long flight, ask your doctor about a sleep aid to help.

9. Exercise.

Physical activity can do wonders for a headache, bad mood, or stress. Even a short walk can help refresh your thoughts and emotions. Walk around while waiting for your flight. If you’re taking a road trip, stop to stretch or go for a jog. If you’re staying at a hotel, ask about their fitness center or swimming pools.

10. Prioritize your needs.

If you feel a trigger coming or find yourself in a stressful situation, simply leave. Go out for a walk, head down to the spa, or spend a few minutes alone on the balcony. Don’t worry about what others think. You have a responsibility to yourself.

11. Take care of your hygiene.

Don’t underestimate the relationship between cleanliness and calmness. Make sure to brush your teeth, wash your hands, and be aware of what you touch. It’s also a good idea to carry baby wipes or hand sanitizer.

12. Take deep breaths.

If you find yourself stressed, inhale slowly for four seconds, then exhale for four seconds. Repeat until you’re calm and ready to move on.

13. Look at the sunny-side.

Try to see the positives in your given situation. For example, if your flight is delayed, you have an opportunity to get in some exercise.

14. Keep your schedule open.

Don’t try to cram too many activities into your day. Just traveling is plenty to keep you occupied.

15. Prepare to readjust.

Depending on the nature of your trip, returning home can be a bit of a shock. It doesn’t hurt to schedule a doctor’s appointment just in case.

16. Prime yourself to enjoy the trip.

Negative thoughts can easily become reality. The reverse is also true. Just relax, take things in stride, and enjoy your trip!

Pasadena Villa programs set out to create a comforting and therapeutic environment while promoting mental health and a socially fulfilling future.  Our recreational therapy incorporates resident interests, their family and the surrounding community.  It is extremely individualized to each person’s interests, abilities and lifestyle.   It also provides a unique perspective regarding the social, cognitive, physical, and leisure needs of the resident. Recreational therapists merge the concepts of healthy living into real time treatment to develop improved functioning and to enhance independence and successful involvement in all aspects of life.  Our staff and residents learn and model appropriate social and communication skills including daily mealtimes, as well as many relaxing arts, crafts and recreational activities.

Our mental health professionals work directly with residents. They observe them in actual social situations and incorporate these observations directly into the resident’s ongoing treatment plan.  This individual real life personalized attention makes the Pasadena Villa treatment experience more appropriate, relevant and beneficial for each of our residents, especially when compared to any other available adult residential treatment mental health services.

As one of the very first programs in the country to base its treatment upon Social Integration, our mental health programs offer help through a unique mix of individualized therapy and group residential programs with a clear focus towards achieving more independent living.

The Villa Orlando and Pasadena Villa’s Smoky Mountain Lodge are adult intensive psychiatric residential treatment centers for clients with serious mental illnesses. Pasadena Villa’s outpatient center is located in Raleigh, North Carolina. We also provide other individualized therapy programs, step-down residential programs, and less intensive mental health services, such as Community Residential Homes, Supportive Housing, Day Treatment Programs and Life Skills training. If you or someone you know may need counseling on mental health services, please fill out our contact form or call us at 877-845-5235 for more information.

If you think that you or a loved one may be struggling with a mental health disorder, Pasadena Villa can help. We are here to answer questions and connect to care. Pasadena Villa currently offers treatment at two residential locations in both Orlando, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, and outpatient services in Cary, North Carolina and Charlotte, North Carolina. To learn more about our program, call us at
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