If you or your loved one is suffering from the painful symptoms of arthritis, then traveling becomes an inconvenient and difficult experience. Stiffness, inflammation, fatigue and limited movement are the general problems faced in all types of arthritis. If flare ups and anguishing pain has left you frustrated, then it is time to take a lead and hit a relaxing location to distract yourself from the depressing and stressful routine.
Despite all the complications, the good news is that with proper care and adequate planning you can make traveling with arthritis an enjoyable vacation. Let’s look at the essential tips for having a fun-filled holiday for arthritis patients.
Tip 1: Pick a suitable and comforting location
The first step on your planning schedule is to decide a location that fits the following criteria:
- Friendly climate – Depending on your condition, it is vital to choose a location that does not have an unfavorable impact on your health. Some arthritis patients feel more comfortable in a sunny weather while others prefer a cold environment. A vacation serves as a refreshing break in the monotonous and stress-filled life of an arthritis patient. The location choice should be made considering the personal preference and comfort level.
- Convenient distance to be traveled – Arthritis patients need to come in terms with their physical limitations. Consequently, making the distance to be traveled another critical pointer for deciding the location. Lack of energy or fatigue are common complains of arthritis sufferer. Depending on the severity of your condition you need to find a vacation spot that does not require tedious hours of traveling.
- Outdoor or indoor vacation – Although an indoor vacation such as a resort with an exotic beach view is preferable, you can plan an excursion by ensuring that the following facilities are available:
- Transport facility for moving around freely such as wheelchair or equipped with lifts and ramps.
- A location that is free from steep paths and climbing steps.
Tip 2: Make arthritis-friendly travel medium arrangements
Once you have decided your location, you should immediately make all the travel arrangements to have a pain-free experience. It is advisable to consult your doctor or any other arthritis patient who has traveled before. The important areas for you to cover are:
- Inform your travel agent about your condition – Standing for long hours in the queue will only trigger the inflammation and pain in your joints. By informing your travel agent beforehand, you will be able to get special attention that you require. You should ask the following questions:
- What is the number of stairs in your desired hotel?
- Does the hotel offer elevated toilet seats?
- Are there hand rails installed near the tub and toilet?
- Does the hotel offer wheel chair facility?
- Will there be special room service available for arthritis patients?
- How far is the elevator from my room?
- Inform your airline that you will be carrying medications – The most common mistake made in traveling is to overlook the airport security. You need to have your doctor’s medicine prescription with you to avoid any delays during the travel plans. Also, if your medicine requires any form of refrigeration, you need to contact your airline in advance to be sure about the services they are open to offer. This will help you to shortlist an airline that is more adherent and caring towards your special requirements.
- Tips to be followed when using other mediums of traveling – If you are using one of the following medium make sure that you adhere to the following advices:
- Traveling by train – You need to book your tickets in advance and also ensure that the bathrooms offer hand rails. Also make sure that your bedroom and restroom are located nearby to minimize the walking distance. In extreme cases, also inquire about the availability of train personnel for further assistance.
- Traveling by bus – Bus trips are usually crowded so make sure that you book your ticket when fewer people are traveling. Also make sure that you have to change minimum number of bus on your way to your ultimate destination. Bring soft pillows and food to make it a comforting ride.
- Traveling by cruise – Make sure that you pre-book your cabin near the elevator and dining area. Also, doctors usually prescribe motion sickness medicine for patients to make it a relaxing journey. It is extremely important to relax and stretch after every few hours to avoid fluid build in your joints.
Tip 3: Make sure to pack light
If you are traveling alone, make sure that your luggage is easy to carry around. Some of the airports are so big that carrying your luggage will be an exhausting experience right at the beginning of your vacation. Your bag needs to have wheels or should straps so you put less strain on your joints and can easily move around. Your underlying aim should be to avoid putting stress on your joints, after all the purpose of vacation is to stray away from the painful days. Make sure that you follow the guidelines listed below while packing:
- Keep your medications in your carry-on so you are less likely to lose them. They will also be within your hand reach in case your condition worsens.
- Comfort should be your top priority while packing your shoes or clothes.
- Pack a horseshoe pillow to provide comforting posture to your neck in the long hours of travelling.
- Travel-sized heat and cold packs to alleviate yourself from flare-ups or pain.
- Keep your assistive device for convenient traveling with arthritis.
- Pack portable raised toilet seats in case your hotel your traveling medium is not offering this service.
Tip 4: Avail the benefits of insurance
It is advisable for arthritis patients to get travel insurance in case of unforeseen events which may require cancellation of trip. Your travel agent can assist you in choosing the appropriate travel insurance as it can be extremely confusing. You can also consult other arthritis patients that have traveled before and avail the benefits of second-hand experience. You can choose from the following:
- Trip cancellation insurance – Hotel reservations and air tickets are booked in advance. During this period you may fall sick and might not be able to go on your desired vacation. Thus this form of insurance will reimburse full or half of your hotel expenditure and airfare.
- Travel insurance – These are medical insurances for travelers that covered medical expenditure made during your trip. Some insurance do not cover the medical expenses of pre-existing illnesses, such as arthritis, thus making it essential to read through the policies and benefits provided by various insurance company.
Tip 5: Bring any assistive device to avoid discomfort
Even if you do not require the assistance of these devices at home, make sure that you do carry them on your vacation to avoid any stress and discomfort. Traveling becomes a strenuous experience especially for arthritis patients who usually complain on lacking of energy or feel fatigue easily. By keeping assistive devices you will be allowing your body to relax and refrain from exhaustion. You can keep assistive devices listed below:
- Tool to button your shirt easily.
- Orthotics to ease pain in the feet while walking long distances.
- Chair extenders to make it easy to get out of chair.
- Cane or crutch to make it easier to walk with a painful knee or hip.
- Reacher to pick up items effortlessly.
Tip 6: Keeping ample supply of your medication
To be on the safe side, keep extra refills of your medication while traveling. You should consult your doctor about your choice of destination and travel medium so he can guide you better on which medications to keep. Some of the guidelines to follow are:
- Make sure that your liquid medicines are 3/4th full and wrapped in plastic bags to avoid leakage.
- Keep your medicines labelled in plastic covers so you can easily find them in case of emergency.
- By packing extra refills you will automatically eliminate the risk of leakage.
- It is important to carry your current prescription in case you lose your medicines.
- Make sure that you carry snacks with you when traveling in case you need to take it with your medicines.
- If you are traveling to a different time zone, then you should keep a pill box with you and label each compartment with the time they need to be taken on. You can also keep an extra watch set to the time zone of your home country to avoid confusion while taking your daily dosage.
Tip 7: Pack clothes according to the climate
You should be aware that being an arthritis patient, you are prone to seasonal diseases and illness. Make sure that you ask your travel agent about the unpredictable weather condition of your desired location in advance and pack your clothes accordingly.
Especially if you are suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, this makes your immune system more susceptible to infections resulting from harsh weather conditions. Make sure that you have packed warm clothes or cold clothes keeping in mind the climate. To be on the safe side, you can keep clothes that can be easily layered so you are able to enjoy be it warm or cold climate.
Tip 8: Keep your health information
Your first priority should be packing your medications, prescriptions, insurance forms and the name and address of your primary care doctor. You should also carry emergency contacts with you at any given time in case the need arises. You should also carry your brief medical history if you need to consult another doctor on urgent basis.
Tip 9: Get all the immunizations
You should consult your doctor about getting any immunizations if you are planning to go abroad for vacation. If you are taking immuno-suppressive medications, then it is highly advisable to go to your doctor to avoid any complications.
This is a fundamental step in your vacation planning especially if you are a rheumatoid sufferer. Your immune system is prone to virus and other bacteria at this stage thus making it of critical importance to contact your doctor about the immunizations you may require.
Tip 10: Leave all your worries behind
Last but not the least, before heading out for holidays you should forget about all the painful experiences that have been limiting your freedom to conduct daily activities freely. This is your opportunity to find a peaceful state-of-mind in your stress-filled life. You can either give in or learn to step up and face the harsh reality of arthritis and not allow it to control your life. If you follow this golden rule then traveling with arthritis can easily be an enjoyable trip.