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10 Tips for Traveling with Arthritis or Following Joint Replacement

Baggage claim

The physical therapists at HSS’ Orthopedic Physical Therapy Center have provided these tips to make your trip easier and more enjoyable!

  1. Get a suitcase with four wheels. A suitcase that you can gently push in front of you rather than pull helps to conserve energy and puts less stress on your body.
  2. Use a backpack instead of a shoulder bag. A backpack evenly distributes the weight so it is not all on one side.  The bag should fit snuggly against your back and not extend lower than your spine.
  3. Do not over-pack. Be mindful of how much you are packing and how heavy the bags will be when you have to carry them. The heavier the bag the more stress it will be on your joints. Try to put the heavier items in your rolling suitcase.
  4. Change your position once an hour. Do not sit for hours at a time. Try standing and walking for at least two minutes every hour to help decrease joint pain and stiffness and make your travel a lot more comfortable. If driving, plan your route to make stops. If on a plane, try getting up and going to the bathroom if it is safe to do so.
  5. Be familiar with your mode of transportation. When booking your trip try to choose your seat on the plane with extra leg room or an aisle seat to make standing up and walking easier.  If traveling by car, try to sit in the passenger seat for some extra leg room.
  6. Bring your cane, walking stick, or walker. Traveling often requires more walking than normal. If you use a cane, walking stick, crutches, or a walker make sure you bring it with you! You want to feel secure when walking through crowded or unfamiliar areas.
  7. Pack a plug-in night light. In unfamiliar surroundings, it can help prevent stumbles or falls. If you forget to bring one along, just leave the bathroom light on when you go to bed.
  8. Bring comfortable shoes. If it is a trip where you know you will be doing a lot of walking, make sure you bring comfortable shoes. You want to make sure that you are able to walk around comfortably and enjoy your trip.
  9. Bring hand sanitizer or wipes. Planes and other public places can be full of germs. Be sure to wash your hands before eating so you can enjoy your trip without getting sick.
  10. Ask for help. Do not hesitate to ask for assistance. Take advantage of extra boarding time, or ask an employee of the airport to assist with your heavy luggage.

Be sure to relax and enjoy your trip! A vacation can do the mind and body a lot of good.

Updated on March 17, 2020

Kayla Hazel, physical therapist

Kayla Hazel PT, DPT is a physical therapist with HSS Rehabilitation. She has experience in both inpatient and outpatient settings, and enjoys treating patients through the full continuum of care.  Kayla is certified in the Selective Functional Movement Assessment.

The information provided in this blog by HSS and our affiliated physicians is for general informational and educational purposes, and should not be considered medical advice for any individual problem you may have. This information is not a substitute for the professional judgment of a qualified health care provider who is familiar with the unique facts about your condition and medical history. You should always consult your health care provider prior to starting any new treatment, or terminating or changing any ongoing treatment. Every post on this blog is the opinion of the author and may not reflect the official position of HSS. Please contact us if we can be helpful in answering any questions or to arrange for a visit or consult.