Planning ahead can make travel even easier
Despite your best intentions, travelling can be a stressful experience, from catching flights to getting around in new environments. If you live with arthritis, there might be added pain, fatigue and discomfort to worry about. These travel tips can help you reduce your stress in preparation for your next exciting vacation.
1. Shoes wisely
Choose shoes that provide a firm grip for your heel. If the back of the shoe is too wide or too soft, your foot will slip, causing instability and soreness. Don’t wear shoes that change the shape of your foot. Shoes that have a pointed, narrow or shallow shape can create pressure, cause pain, and eventually cause damage to your foot. Look for shoes with great arch support, or that can be worn with orthotic supports. Lack of arch support can cause your foot to flatten and can affect knee, hip and back pain.
2. Bag it up
It is easier on your body to carry a bag with an across-the-shoulder strap (or a backpack) than to carry a handbag. A briefcase or laptop bag with a shoulder strap allows you to use your body instead of your hands to carry heavy items. Suitcases, backpacks and briefcases with wheels reduce the impact of maneuvring luggage. A key ring through a zipper tab lets you hook one finger through the ring instead of pinching the tab, making the task easier and reducing strain on your thumb and index finger.
3. Drive smart
When preparing your car for a trip or when choosing a rental car, consider adjustable components like the steering wheel and seatback. Bring a beaded or vinyl seat cover to make it easier to get in and out of the car, and look for extra features like a swivel seat and wheel grips. Consider the following hacks to make driving easier and more comfortable.
4. Keep meds handy
Your medication should be at the top of your packing list for any trip. Be sure to pack your medication in your carry-on luggage, as checked luggage could go missing. When booking your stay for a trip, ask for a mini fridge in your room to store medication that requires staying cool. Talk to your pharmacist about your upcoming trip to ensure your prescriptions are filled up for the duration of the trip, and for at least a few days after your return.
5. Pack a snack
Eating on vacation often means you can’t always control what – or even when – you will eat. Try to eat fish, skinless poultry and meatless proteins more often than red meat, and opt for vegetables, fruits and whole grains when possible. Keep water with you and sip throughout the day - when you’re well hydrated, your body functions better, your joints feel better, and you have more energy. Limit your intake of alcohol, caffeine and sugary drinks to reduce the risk of inflammation. Packing an anti-inflammatory lunch before heading out is also a great way to control what you will be eating, as options might be limited.
6. Protect yourself
Ensure your vaccinations are up to date. We know that older adults and people with auto-immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis may be more likely to get seriously sick with COVID-19, for example, so it's important to take appropriate precautions. Also consider wearing a mask in all indoor public settings to lower your risk of viral infection.
7. Get Moving
Your joints may be sore after a long flight or drive, so get moving by walking or performing any of these exercises that you can do anywhere. You may be walking a lot on your trip, so you should also give yourself some breaks and/or bring a mobility assisting tool, such as a cane, to help you stay active on your trip.
For more tips to help you prepare for your next trip, check out these 5 Arthri-Tips for air travel, and learn more on our Online Learning page.