Planning travel can be very exciting, but it can also be stressful—especially if you have a chronic illness like psoriatic arthritis. On top of thinking about where to stay and eat and what to pack, you need to think about how to manage psoriatic arthritis symptoms on-the-go or even in a foreign country. Learn more about how psoriatic arthritis affects the body here.
The best way to limit pre-vacation worries? Plan ahead. The right prep can help you avoid travel snags (like not being able to take your medication on your flight!), reduce the likelihood of psoriatic arthritis flares, and stay pain-free throughout your stay.
Here are 5 tips to help you manage psoriatic arthritis before and during your travels:
1. Book a pre-trip doctor appointment.
Not only is every country different in terms of what medications they allow in the country, but also, every person’s psoriatic arthritis is different. You and your doctor know your health best, so it’s important to discuss and confirm these key things with them:
Check that your medicine prescriptions are current (it’s a good idea to bring a written copy just in case—so ask for one!)
Make a plan for coping with flares while you’re on the go (just in case).
If you’re traveling with syringes or needles for an injection psoriatic arthritis medication, such as a biologic, ask your doctor for a note. Learn more about the different psoriatic arthritis treatment types here.
If you’re traveling internationally, check the embassy website for special requirements for bringing your medicine into the country. Some countries ask you to bring a note from your doctor.
Ask your doctor about any vaccines you may need before you take off, since many psoriatic arthritis treatments increase your risk for infections.
2. Organize your medication.
After you’ve organized the medication logistics so you’re able to travel with them, you need a plan to keep them safe and accessible while you’re on your trip. Here’s what to do:
Keep your medications in your carry-on (don’t put them in your checked baggage!).
Ensure your medications are labeled and in the original packaging.
You will need to declare any liquid medication, freezer packs, IV bags, pumps, or syringes. (Check out the TSA website for more information about traveling with medications.)
If you use biologics that need to be kept cool:
Bring a small cooler or bag with an ice pack to store it in.
Call the hotel and make sure there’s a refrigerator in your room.
3. Make a packing checklist.
When it comes to staying comfortable and pain-free, bringing the right supplies is key. Your packing list should include:
Medications (of course)
Comfortable and appropriate clothes for your destination. That means: Light, loose, and moisture-wicking clothes for hot, humid climates, and hats, gloves, scarves, and warm clothing to protect your skin if you’re headed somewhere cold.
Your own toiletries, including shampoo, conditioner, soap, moisturizer, sunblock, and lip balm. Don’t rely on the drug stores at your destination to have the things you need (‘cause they might not). Important reminder: Toiletries stored in your carry-on bag cannot be more than 3.4 ounces if you’re taking them on the plane.
Items to help you stay comfortable and rested. That might include an eye mask, ear plugs, travel pillow, hot or cold packs, and a cane or walker (if you use one).
Healthy on-the-go snacks and plenty of H20. High-fat, high-calorie foods often found in airports and rest stops can promote inflammation (not to mention drain your wallet!). Keep healthy eats handy and consider bringing an empty reusable water bottle to fill up once you’ve gone through security. Try these delicious and healthy portable snack ideas!
4. Utilize airport and airline resources to help you fly with ease.
Maneuvering through the airport and sitting on a plane for hours can be taxing on your body. Here are some ways to make your plane travel a little more comfortable:
When booking your flight, pick an aisle seat or one with extra legroom so you can stretch and move your legs during the flight.
If you’re lugging multiple pieces of luggage, see if the airport has luggage carts available.
To avoid standing for extended periods of time at the security checkpoint, call the TSA Cares toll-free helpline at (855) 787-2227 for security screening assistance.
Utilize pre-boarding, wheelchair, or motorized escorts. Airlines are required to offer these services to disabled passengers who ask.
When on the plane, ask the flight attendants to help you store your overhead baggage.
5. Keep moving!
Sitting still for long periods of time can cause joint stiffness. Keep your joints mobile by moving regularly and gently throughout your travels.
If you’re on a long drive, stop at rest stops regularly to walk around and stretch your arms and legs.
If you’re on a plane or train, get up from your seat regularly (if the captain says it’s safe).
Too achy to stand? Move your legs and arms or do stretches in your seat. It helps to keep the spot below the seat in front of you clear so you can stretch out your legs.
With this list and your doctor’s decree, your trip can be enjoyable, relaxing, and pain-free.
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