Traveling during the holiday season can be stressful for anyone, but traveling with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) can be especially challenging. Fortunately, a little advance planning can go a long way towards making your trip go more smoothly. The following tips can help keep you comfortable during your travels so that you can focus on enjoying your holiday:
1. Use a suitcase with wheels that is easy to push. This will help conserve your energy and avoid the joint-twisting strain of pulling
2. Prevent joint stiffness by not sitting for hours in a car or plane without moving. Sitting for prolonged periods of time can make your joints swell and will increase stiffness when you go to stand up again. Also, try to get an aisle seat on planes, which will make it easier to stretch and stand when needed. If you’re driving, allow time for hourly five-minute rest stops.
3. Make sure to wear comfortable walking sneakers or shoes for traveling through the airport. Rubber soled shoes are recommended to prevent slips and falls. Support stockings can also be worn, if recommended by your physician, to prevent with leg swelling.
4. Cane and walkers can be used to take the strain off of joints in your lower extremities when you’re walking or standing in line. Canes and walkers can also be taken through security and stored on the plane during flights.
5. Pack your medications first and use labeled containers that go in your carry-on luggage, and take an extra copy of your prescriptions with you in case your medications get lost. Nothing can spoil your trip worse than not having your medications on hand.
6. Make sure to plan all activities in advance to avoid last-minute stressful situations. Arrive at the airport early in order to avoid large crowds. Ordering a wheelchair ahead of time may be a great solution.
Lauren Piljic is a doctor of physical therapy at the Joint Mobility Center at Hospital for Special Surgery.