Summer time — the time for barbeques, outdoor activities and of course vacations! For most people- summer means taking an annual trip. For arthritis sufferers, though, the mere thought of traveling can be worrisome and overwhelming.
With a little extra planning and preparation – “hitting the road” can be an enjoyable experience for those with arthritis! Follow these summer travel tips to help manage your arthritis when traveling.
Planning Your Trip
- Selecting the right mode of transportation is key when traveling out of town. If you have the choice between air travel or rail travel—choosing a train may be your best bet. Traveling by train allows you to avoid longer lines, security is less intense and seating is more comfortable.
- When making hotel or housing reservations, make sure the accommodations meet your needs- elevators, walk in showers etc…
- Consider purchasing a “Cane/Stool” (a portable walking chair) that you can take with you on your travels. A cane/stool unfolds from a cane into a small sturdy stool so you can rest and take a seat when needed.
- Clean out any handbags down to necessary items only to lighten your load. If you are carrying extra items such as cameras or snacks for the day, consider a sling bag that wraps across your body to reduce strain on your back and shoulder. The best bet is to lighten your load and use a fanny pack to carry items you must have.
- If you are traveling with children and need to carry toys and extra clothing, consider investing in a light weight folding roller bag. The bag shown here acts as a walking aide, has a built-in seat and is a great carry-on for the plane.
Another option is–the Maxam Trolley Bag with Folding Chair. (Available on multiple web sites)
Traveling By Plane
If your trip includes air travel- there are a few things you can do to make your trip go smoothly….
- Reserve seats that have more leg room and make requests for special needs in advance
- Pack lightly and use luggage with wheels; the lighter the bags and the fewer- the better
- Even though there may be a charge for checking bags, it is far better to pay a small fee than paying the cost of back pain from having to lift a too heavy bag into and out of the overhead compartment. Don’t ruin your vacation before it even starts.
- Carry medications with you on the plane- just in case your luggage is lost or delayed
- Bring an inflatable pillow with you on the plane to cushion your seat or to act as a back or neck support. Blow up pillows take up very little room and allow you to adjust the level of support on long flights.
- Pre-arrange for carts or wheelchairs that can pick you up and get you to and from the gates
Traveling By Car
When your trips call for extended time in the car there are adjustments that can be made to make your drive time more comfortable. ..
- If you’re renting a car, choose an “arthritis friendly” car that is easy to get in and out of and provides ample leg room
- Plan for frequent stops to get out and stretch. A quick 5 minute stop will give you ample time to walk around and avoid stillness
- Bring pillows to place under your arms and protect your neck with an inflatable neck pillow that can be adjusted to the shape and volume that is needed
- Pack enough medications to last the entire trip–plus a few days extra in case your trip is extended or flights are cancelled. Make an extra copy of your prescriptions in case your medications get lost.
No matter what your plans are for the summer – with some advanced preparation and a moderate pace, your arthritis can be managed so you can relax and enjoy your vacation!
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