Will you soon be traveling with Rheumatoid Arthritis? If you’re like me, flying often leads to flare ups so I wanted to provide some tips that will help ensure that you travel as smoothly as possible.
- Pack Light. Preplan all of the clothing you will need for your trip well in advance of packing and make a list. Bring clothing that can be mix and matched throughout you trip. I tend to fill my bag with basics that can go from day to night. Example list: 2-3 cotton dresses, jeans, jean jacket, scarf (that can double as a blanket on the plane), a couple of solid tees and tanks, and a cardigan sweater. I bring one clutch purse, one pair of cute, supportive tennis shoes that can be worn with a dress or jeans and one pair of dressier sandals that can also go to the beach. PROTIP: I recently purchased the Adidas Cloudfoam Advantage Womens White sneakers on Google Express for $35!! Did I mention cloudfoam? They are amazing and wearing them literally makes me feel like I’m walking on clouds.
- Choose your Suitcase Wisely. Select a light weight 9”x22”x14” suitcase that can be checked or carried onto an airplane and has 360 degree roller wheels for easy maneuvering around the airport. Many experts recommend that you push rather than pull your suitcase and use both hands to alleviate pressure on your neck, arms and shoulders. PROTIP: If you don’t own a roller bag, you can ask a porter for assistance or utilize a rolling cart provided at the airport.
- Pre-plan potential medical needs. We all know RA and corresponding flares can be unpredictable, so packing your regular medications might not be enough. Try to prepare for the worst case scenario by packing prednisone (just in case), compression socks (my new favorites from Amazon– see photo below) & gloves and travel sized pain relief ointments such as Tiger Balm or Punch Gunk. If you are checking a bag, make sure your meds stay with you, in a carry-on bag.
- Are you traveling with syringes? You will need an ice-pack, cooler bag and a doctors note. I recommend having TSA hand check your syringes rather than sending them through the x-ray machine. Also, make sure the hotel you’re staying at has a refrigerator you can use for storage upon arrival. PROTIP: Enbrel offers a free travel pack to patients. Click here for more information.
- Book an aisle seat and stay hydrated. It’s important that you get up and stretch your legs a few times throughout a long flight. Plus, you’ll want to drink lots of water to stay hydrated which means lots of trips to the bathroom which can be most easily accessed if you book an aisle seat. Make sure to bring an empty water bottle with you through TSA, so you can fill it up before your flight.
- Carry an assistant. Consider a folding cane or walker if you need assistance walking. These also come in handy when you’re visiting monuments or tourist destinations with super long lines. PROTIP: Fashionable Canes offers travelers really fun designs that can be folded to fit in your back pocket when you’re not using it, for about $30.
- Carry healthy snacks: Most of the time, airports and airlines offer high fat foods and snacks to passengers. That said, I make sure to pack my bag full of healthy snacks, such as a protein bar, banana, tangerine, granola bar, etc. It’s inevitable that I’ll splurge on yummy/naughty foods throughout my vacation, especially if the timing coincides with the holidays, so I prefer to load up on healthy stuff until I arrive.
Don’t let traveling with Rheumatoid Arthritis stress you out… Travel is one of my absolute favorite things in life! It just takes a little more planning and preparation for spoonie folks like us.