Nothing makes traveling with chronic illness / RA easy
I’ve traveled all my life. As I explained in yesterday’s blog, Traveling with Chronic Illness / RA Part 1, it is different to travel with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Here are a few of the tips that I’ve learned over the last few years from traveling and talking with other friends who do. We can try to make it easier on ourselves and at least be prepared.
Travel with chronic illness tips list
- Relax and lower expectations. You might not make it as far as you planned if you are driving. You might not get to see everyone or go everywhere on your list. It’s okay to settle for less.
- Ask for help and be patient. If you’re like me, even if you ask for help, you try to manage as much as possible on your own. If you can bring something to read, you can be more patient when you are waiting for help to respond.
- Be open about your limitations. Tell your companions and your hosts what you are comfortable doing. Let them know when you need to stop.
- Take advantage of assistance such as skycaps or porters.
- Use a wheelchair or scooter in large airports, museums, zoos, or shopping centers. Often you can borrow or reserve one even if you do not use one on a regular basis. Remember, you won’t just be walking long distances; you may also be waiting in long lines.
- Provide for good rest. Do you need special pillows or lightweight blankets? Has your doctor prescribed sleeping pills? Personally, I use a featherbed and next time I travel, I’m packing a small one into a vacuum bag.
- Pack one or two small light bags that you can carry yourself in case you have to. Include medication you may need while en route and whatever else would be critical in case you are separated from your other luggage.
- Medications should be in containers with the pharmacy labels still attached. In many places, it is illegal to carry them without the original labeled container. Get new prescriptions or refills done so that you have enough and you won’t have to bother with refills on the road.
- Break up the schedule. Maybe that means visiting on some days and resting on the days in between. Or changing to a different seat in a car after stopping to stretch at a rest stop.
- Ask your doctor about prescribing prednisone or extra medications for sleep or pain while traveling to make you more comfortable during the extra physical stress.
- Find a small travel pillow that you can use to make seats more comfortable or rest your elbows on. You can usually roll them up and poke them into your bag.
- Bring the phone numbers of your doctors and pharmacists in case you have a question or an emergency.
- Talk with someone who has traveled to that destination before to ask about situations you may not have considered.
- Carry a packaged snack or mini meal to be used to take medicine.
- Bring a small reusable water bottle. If flying, bring it empty. You can refill as needed.
- Don’t stress shoulders or wrists carrying a handbag. Get a cross body type handbag, backpack or waist pack.
- Bring insurance information or identification. If you do not have medical insurance that will cover you where you are traveling, you can buy special insurance just for the trip.
- Get a medical alert tag or carry a card with emergency physician contact, current medications, and medical diagnoses.
- Wear shoes that slip off easily so you can give your feet a break every chance you get.
- Show this list to your significant other or travel companions.
What is your best tip for travel with Rheumatoid Arthritis?
More help for travel with Chronic Illness
- John’s Hopkins’ Health Alerts: Travel Tips with Chronic Illness
- Net Doctor on Traveling with Chronic Diseases
- Traveling with Chronic Illness / RA, part 1
- Book review: What to Do When the Doctor Says Its Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis Disability Makes Things Difficult
- Dealing with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Housework