Travelling Made Accessible With These 7 Tips for People With Arthritis

6 minute read

Traveling with any chronic illness can be challenging. While most people want to be accommodating, they simply don’t understand what your limitations are and how to help. But this shouldn’t hold you back from exploring the world around you and seeing all that you want to see.

If you suffer from arthritis, there are some things you can do to make travel easier and to give you the freedom to enjoy your trip. Don’t let your joints hold you back.

Tips for Traveling With Arthritis

Whether you’re traveling abroad for an extended trip or simply taking a day trip for a family reunion, arthritis can cause stress and be painful. Following these tips will help you ease the burden and feel more comfortable.

1. Plan Ahead

Arrive early whenever possible and be prepared to wait in lines. If standing for a long time is difficult for you, then you may need to rent a scooter or wheelchair, or even just a cane to give your joints a little rest and support.

If you are traveling by air, it’s always good to let them know that you may need a little extra time getting situated, and you might need help moving your baggage in and out of the overhead storage. If you need extra help, contact TSA Cares and the Transportation Security Administration will make sure you have help getting through security, to your plane, and boarded.

If you’re going to be renting a car, talk to the rental agency to see what features they might be able to offer you. Some have swivel seats, spinner knobs, and other hand controls that can make travel more comfortable.

2. Prep Your Medications

Most people with chronic arthritis conditions rely on prescription medications, supplements, and over-the-counter pain medications when they travel. It’s best if you can gather your medications into one bag and keep them in the original prescription bottle. If you can, a list of your medications and what they’re for from your physician or pharmacist can eliminate any questions you encounter.

If you need medication that requires refrigeration, keeping a small, travel cooler with ice packs is usually the best route. It’s a good idea to include a doctor’s note with your medication and contact the airline in advance. Similarly, if you need syringes, be prepared to offer an explanation and documentation.

3. Remain Stress-Free

Easier said than done, but stress can often exacerbate medical conditions, including arthritis. The following tips can help you manage stress:

♦ Learn some breathing techniques that are designed to calm you and relieve stress.

♦ Stretch your muscles to release tension and keep them supple.

♦ Imagine the trip in your head before you travel so you know what to expect.

♦ Dress in layers so you can stay comfortable.

♦ Bring music, a book, or whatever relaxes you and distracts you from the wait.

♦ Consider a supplement that is designed to reduce anxiety.

Add anything to that list that works for you and helps you feel more calm about travel.

4. Pack for Ease and Comfort

Your luggage is a big consideration, you don’t want to load it with “just in case” items and make it unmanageably heavy. Packing light is usually a better approach and remember, you can always pick something up at a store if you find you need more supplies.

A smooth moving roller suitcase is essential. You want it to glide along next to you, you don’t want to be tugging it and trying to maneuver wobbly wheels, which can exacerbate your arthritis.

5. Hotel Considerations

If you can stay in a hotel that has a hot tub, take advantage of this luxury and use it regularly to relieve aches and pains in your joints. If you’re at a hotel with a spa, booking a massage can help you enjoy the trip.

Don’t forget to look for a room with a refrigerator if you need to keep your medication cool.

6. Eat Right

Believe it or not, your foods can prompt inflammation. If you can, bring healthy food and snacks with you when traveling. Then be very careful about what you eat when you reach your destination.

You want to be able to enjoy new cuisine, but not so much so that you cause a flare-up. If you can, try to focus on eating foods that naturally fight inflammation.

| Related: 9 Arthritis Superfoods for a Healthy Lifestyle |

7. Connect With Your Medical Team

Let your primary doctor know you’ll be traveling, and if you’re seeing a physical therapist of some sorts, tell them too. Your healthcare team deals with traveling patients all the time and will have some helpful tips for you that will make the experience better.

It’s also good to let them know when you’ll be gone so they’re prepared if you call with a question or an emergency on the road.

The Bottom Line

Don’t let your arthritis and joint pain hold you back from doing the things you love. You can still travel with arthritis, it just takes a little extra planning and preparation to get you on the road.

Once you’re traveling, paying attention to what you eat, your comfort level, stress, and moving as much as possible will help you stay comfortable and make the trip less taxing. The more you’re able to take care of yourself and pay attention to your personal warning signs, the easier your trip will be.

Connect with your healthcare team before you travel to see if they have any additional tips or if there is any change in medication or stretching that will help make your trip more comfortable. If there is a problem, knowing that they’re just a phone call away can save the day.

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