For individuals living with inflammatory arthritis, the idea of travelling can be both exciting and daunting. The desire to explore new places and experience different cultures may be hindered by the challenges posed by joint pain, fatigue, and other symptoms associated with arthritis. However, with careful planning and a few practical strategies, travelling with arthritis can become a rewarding and manageable experience. In this article, we will explore five great tips to make your journey easier, allowing you to embrace the joys of travel while effectively managing your arthritis symptoms. This article is more geared towards those who struggle with their symptoms or are in a flare, however is hopefully helpful to everyone in the arthritis community looking to make the most of their travels!
Plan Ahead and Communicate
Before embarking on your journey, thorough planning is essential. Research your destination and identify factors that can impact your arthritis symptoms, such as climate, altitude, and accessibility. Consult with your healthcare provider to discuss your travel plans, ensuring that your condition is stable and your medications are up-to-date. Additionally, inform your travel companions about your arthritis, including potential limitations, so they can offer assistance and understanding when needed.
2. Pack Smart and Light
Packing efficiently is crucial when travelling with arthritis. Aim to pack light, as carrying heavy luggage can strain your joints and increase discomfort. Consider using lightweight, wheeled suitcases or backpacks with padded straps for ease of transport. Organise your belongings in smaller, manageable compartments to minimise the strain of searching for items. Remember to pack essential medications, including a few extra doses in case of unexpected delays or loss of medication.
3. Optimise Comfort During Transit
Whether travelling by plane, train, or car, prioritise your comfort during transit. When flying, select seats with extra legroom, preferably an aisle seat for easy movement. Request wheelchair assistance at airports if required. If travelling by car, plan regular breaks to stretch your legs and move around. Consider using seat cushions or supportive backrests to provide optimal comfort and reduce joint stiffness. Compression gloves or socks can also aid in improving circulation during long journeys.
4. Choose Accommodations Wisely
When selecting accommodations, choose those that offer accessibility and comfort suitable for your specific needs. Look for hotels or vacation rentals with features like elevators, accessible bathrooms, and rooms on the ground floor to minimise the use of stairs. Inquire about the availability of amenities like swimming pools, hot tubs, or on-site spas, which can provide relaxation and pain relief after a day of exploring. Prioritise locations with nearby amenities, such as pharmacies or medical facilities, in case of any emergencies or sudden flare-ups.
5. Incorporate Rest and Gentle Exercise
Travelling can be physically demanding, but it’s crucial to balance activity with rest and gentle exercise. Plan rest periods throughout your itinerary to avoid overexertion. Take breaks to stretch, walk, or perform low-impact exercises, such as swimming or tai chi, which can help maintain joint mobility and reduce stiffness. Carry a portable heating pad or cold pack to provide relief when needed. Listen to your body and pace yourself accordingly, allowing for enjoyable and sustainable travel experiences.
Traveling with inflammatory arthritis may require additional considerations and planning, but it shouldn’t stop you from exploring the world! By implementing the tips mentioned above and customising them to suit your individual needs, you can embark on exciting adventures with greater confidence and reduced discomfort. Remember to consult with your healthcare provider, prioritise self-care, and embrace the joy of travel while managing your arthritis symptoms effectively. If you’re looking for extra support, try out our My Arthritis app, which is accessible worldwide!