Arthritis and long-distance travel

Travelling soon? Planning ahead can make a world of difference if you have arthritis. We give you tips on how to make your trip as painless as possible.

Travelling soon? Planning ahead can make a world of difference. Here we have some great tips to help take the pain out of arthritis and long-distance travel. 

Australians are known for their love of travel and adventure. In fact, figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that 8.2 million Australians departed on short-term travel trips in 2012 alone.

And why not? After all, travel is how we create some of our most unforgettable memories.

However, if you’re living with the pain and discomfort of arthritis, travelling locally or abroad could be challenging. This chronic rheumatic condition is a major cause of disability and chronic pain in Australia, with an estimated 3.85 million of us affected by it.

And yet, just because you have arthritis, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some travel from time to time.

Trip tips
Your condition shouldn’t have to derail your aspirations to travel. Here’s what you can do:

• Read up as much as you can about your destination and suitable activities.
• Ensure you plan your trip when you tend to feel your best.
• Make sure there’s adequate and comfortable transport between the various sites.
• If you’re driving, ensure the car has electric windows, is automatic and has power steering.
• Rent a car or have someone drive you instead of taking the bus or train on long trips.
• When travelling by road, request regular stops to stretch and rest.
• Speak to your doctor about immunisations and whether they’ll clash with your meds.
• Always pack more medicine than you think you’ll need, in case travel arrangements change.
• Pack your meds in carry-on and check-in bags, in case one of the bags is stolen or lost.
• Leave a copy of your chronic prescription with a friend, in case you need it faxed or emailed to you.
• Always carry a list of your medical history, medications, health-insurance number and doctor’s number.
• If travelling by car, ensure your medicines are kept cool and dry.
• Always book an aisle seat on a plane, train or bus, so you can stand up and stretch when your joints get stiff.
• Ask for the emergency exit seat if you need more leg room.
• Make sure you book direct flights.
• Label your wheelchair (if you have one) and request that it be loaded as “last on/first off”.
• Check in online, or ahead of time, to avoid standing in long lines.
• Carry a doctor’s note if your medication includes needles, or else security might not let you through.
• Choose a hotel room with a bar fridge, in case you need to refrigerate medication.
• A hotel with a swimming pool is good if you’re keen on maintaining your water therapy/exercises while you travel.
• Opt for a room with a shower or a bath with a handrail.

REMEMBER: At times, arthritis may feel debilitating but, with the correct planning, it shouldn’t be the reason you have to opt out of travel when the opportunity arises.

Image via Thinkstock