Preparedness is Key!
Some people with arthritis develop a reluctance to try new things or experience activities that their physical limitations might make more of a challenge. For example, people with arthritis often become reluctant to travel. With forethought and careful planning, people with arthritis can travel too!
If traveling with arthritis is a concern, it is wise to take short trips at first and have someone along who could be of assistance if necessary. As short trips are accomplished and enjoyed successfully, longer trips can be planned with confidence. The short trips allow you to experience traveling and at the same time learn what difficulties occur that can be either avoided or planned for.
Make Your Needs Known
If a travel agent is utilized when planning more extensive trips, be specific about your restrictions and requirements. Do not assume that all will be well and all will be understood. You must make your needs known. Ask the travel agent questions that will solve your concerns. Ask about:
- walking distance
- the amount of stairs
- location of elevators
- hand rails in tubs and near the toilet
- elevated toilet seats
- wheelchair accessibility
- availability of room service at your destination
The travel agent has the information and ability to put you in a setting that will address your needs.
Planning ahead is the key to successful traveling. Whatever you need at home you will likely need as you travel. It is important to make sure you pack enough medications to last the entire trip. It is wise to get extra prescriptions from your doctor also, in case you are gone longer than expected. Since luggage can be lost, it is not wise to pack all the medications in your luggage. Keep some medications in another handbag.
When packing, pack light, but bring all the important items that make your arthritis more manageable. Along with your medications, bring your doctor's name and phone number in case you unexpectedly need him or his advice. Remember to bring any assistive devices / arthritis aids that you use daily, such as:
- raised toilet seat
- long handled brushes or reachers
- special pillows
- heating pads
Sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable clothing also are important items. Use lightweight luggage with wheels and/or shoulder straps to make it easier to transport. When possible ask porters to carry luggage or use luggage carts if available.
The most important tip for enjoying a vacation is to begin the trip well rested and allow time at your destination for rest. Prioritize activities and do not overdo by trying to do too much in one day. It is a good idea to alternate active and restful periods. However, even though pacing yourself is important, remember to also try new things. Allow yourself the chance to try things you may think you can no longer do. You may surprise yourself. Achieving new things or accomplishing what you thought you couldn't do boosts confidence enormously.
More Travel Tips
The best advice for any travel plan is to take along all necessities to make yourself as comfortable as you can be, make sure assistance is available, and don't be afraid to experience new horizons. You may be amazed at what you can still do. The writer of this article, About.com Arthritis Guide, Carol Eustice, spent part of her honeymoon in Zion National Park and hiked on two "easy" trails (with 2 hips and 2 knees replaced, and 1 ankle fusion). The sense of accomplishment was indescribable.