Mar 2, 2018

Reconnect: Taking the Pain and Stress out of Travel

Believe it or not, spring break is right around the corner. With warmer weather comes travel plans, and unfortunately the stress and anxieties that accompany traveling. These worries and stresses can increase joint pain and ultimately add to an arthritis patient’s discomfort. Our world is too beautiful to leave it unexplored, so whether it’s a tour of Italy or a family reunion in the Mid-west, don’t miss these memorable moments with friends and family because of arthritis. With some planning and research, you can make your spring break trip as pain-free as possible. Implement these seven tips now to help reduce arthritis pain and stress while traveling.

Utilize help.

It would be great to have a travel buddy assistant during your travels to help you load and unload, remind you to take your medicine and assist in finding healthy food choices, but for many that may not be possible. If you are traveling alone or even with a partner, ensure you are utilizing the help that is available to you. There are people in airports that can help carry your baggage, drive you to your gates and help store your belongings. Airlines are required to offer pre-boarding and motorized escorts to those who need it. There are also options for security screening that help people avoid standing for long periods of time. Call your airline and ask about the assistant options that are offered to those who need it. Be sure to also look into assistive devices such a cane, walker, or travel chair. These are extremely helpful to those travelers with mobility issues.

Be temperature wise.

We know that hot and cold therapies are great for treating arthritis pain and joint stiffness. Keep this in mind as you prepare to pack and stock up on items such as heat wraps, heating pads, ice packs and creams. Whether you are staying with friends, family or at a luxurious retreat make sure the room is set to a comfortable temperature that does not exacerbate arthritis symptoms. If you plan to stay at a resort, research accommodations with hot tubs and saunas. This is your vacation so plan to indulge. You deserve it!

Choose meals carefully.

Unfortunately there aren’t many healthy meal options when you’re on the road. Airport restaurants, fast food diners and gas stations are always at your fingertips and they are all stocked with unhealthy food choices that encourage inflammation and arthritis pain.  Carry healthy, protein-filled snacks with you because what you put into your body has a huge influence on how it works. If you do decide to dine out, keep processed and high fat foods to a minimum. Bring plenty of water, as it’s important for those with arthritis to stay hydrated. And as much as you think you need that cocktail to help you relax or that extra cup of coffee for energy, avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can aggravate arthritis symptoms.

Keep your medications organized.

Well before you leave for your trip, ensure you will have enough medication and vitamins to last through your vacation and at least a few days after you return. Keep all your medications on you and not in checked bags. Keep any medications that require refrigeration in small travel-sized coolers with a zip lock bag and ice packs. It can be easy to forget to take your medications while traveling, so invest in a quality pill box with medication reminders. Do some research and find local pharmacies close to where you will be staying and consider talking to you doctor about an extra prescription as a precaution.

Be smart when booking.

Use travel smarts when booking travel arrangements. Avoid long lines by traveling mid-week. Spend a few extra dollars and book a seat with extra leg room so you can stretch your legs and relax. When booking a hotel room, ask about rooms with large showers with plenty of room for moving around and wall handles to prevent slipping. Request to be placed in a room close to the elevator, or better yet, on the first floor.

Keep moving.

Sitting still for an extended period of time is one of the worst things that an arthritis sufferer can do. If you are in a car plan your road trip with plenty of time for stops. Get out during these stops and stretch, walk around and breathe some fresh air. Whatever you do just keep moving. If you are traveling by plane, train or bus and have to stay seated try simple isometric stretches that you can do in your seat.

Talk to your doctor.

Before you plan to hit the road be sure speak to your doctor. Your doctor should be one of your most trusted support systems. Talk to your physician about any concerns or anxieties you may have. They can give you travel advice, administer that back-up prescription, and give you information on who to call for travel assistance. If you have an upcoming trip on the books call Carolina Arthritis Associates today and we will help get you ready to the hit the road. Our skilled and compassionate physicians will have you prepared and feeling confident as you step out of your comfort zone and check out those places on your bucket list.

One of the best things you can do as you prepare to travel this spring is to be prepared. Plan ahead, make lists, anticipate potential challenges and do your research. Having arthritis may mean a little more work and a slower pace but it shouldn’t stop you from living your life, seeing the world and visiting the people that matter most. The reward will be worth it!