Top travel tips for people with arthritis and joint pain
Travelling can be stressful and tiring at the best of times. For people with musculoskeletal health conditions like arthritis, various aspects of the travel experience can be especially challenging and place extra strain on the body. From the journey itself, to carrying the bags, to getting a good night’s sleep in a new bed, there is much to consider when preparing for a holiday.
We spoke to our ChangeMaker community and travel enthusiast Beccy (@flyingfyllis ) was happy to provide some simple tips which ensure that people with arthritis, joint pain or limited dexterity and movement can protect their musculoskeletal health and enjoy every step of their well-earned break.
1.Make journeys easier
Long journeys are usually part and parcel of the holiday experience. Sitting still in the car for long periods of time can be difficult for people with arthritis, as lack of movement can contribute to a painful stiffening of the joints. Arthritis in the knees and hips can also make it difficult to get in and out of a car seat. Portable, easy-to-pack gadgets like the Car Door Mate can be attached to the hinges of taxis and rental cars and prop them open to provide support for a hassle-free exit. The Car Door Mate is loved by Strictly Come Dancing champion Joanne Clifton, who uses it to help make her journeys more comfortable when on tour.
Beccy’s top tip: When making long journeys, try to get up from your seat and stretch regularly, if possible. Using compression gloves and socks can also help alleviate stiffness and swelling.
2. Get organised
Preparation is a crucial part of any holiday, and this is no different for people with arthritis. Keeping track of everything you need to bring with you can be tricky, but planning ahead is always worth the time, and will allow you to fully switch off and enjoy the trip.
Many people with joint pain will use supplements or medication to help manage their condition. Ensuring that you have everything on hand, and enough to last the duration of your travels will help make the transition from your daily routine to holiday mode much simpler. Portable cases like the Tabuu Pill Case help to make sure that you’re looking after your health while travelling.
Beccy’s top tip: If you take medication, make sure you bring enough to cover the duration of your trip, and any potential delays. Think ahead about any specific storage requirements, such as having a fridge in your room if needed. Setting a reminder to take your medication will help you maintain your routine in your new time zone or location.
3. Prioritise sleep
Three quarters (74%) of people with arthritis reporting that joint pain from the condition disrupts their sleep*. Poor quality, or a lack of sleep from a night in a new bed, can have a significant impact on your day-to-day wellbeing, and fatigue-induced mood swings are sure to put a dampener on the holiday mood.
Adapt your holiday sleep environment and make it as comfortable as possible during your stay. Bringing along some home comforts and products to ease joint pain will help you settle into your accommodation.
Using an extra pillow to place between your knees when sleeping helps to align the hips, and makes for a more comfortable night’s sleep. There are also specialised products like the Arthr Knee Pillow, which is designed to reduce discomfort in the knees and hips via pressure redistribution by spacing the legs wider apart when you sleep, that can help you get the rest that your body needs.
If you’re opting for a cooler holiday location, it’s important to keep your joints warm at night. Heat relaxes muscles and reduces stiffness, so using a Long Hot Water Bottle as part of your bedtime routine can help maximise your comfort, and is a favourite of TV personality Ulrika Jonsson.
Beccy’s top tip: Rest if you feel you need to. Having a morning lie in or getting an early night after a busy day exploring can help your body recover and reduce the risk of flare ups.
4. Take It Easy
Travelling and keeping pace with a busy holiday schedule can cause strain on the body. For people with arthritis and joint pain, it's crucial to listen to your body and let it rest when it needs to. If you’re planning on going sightseeing or enjoying longer walks, make sure there are lots of places nearby where you can pause, sit and take a break if necessary. Take the time out you need to relax and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to overdo it to keep up with family and friends.
Beccy’s top tip: Pace yourself; don’t feel under pressure to see and do everything all at once. Try to check in on how you feel each day and take time to practice self-care. Make a schedule that works for you and don’t feel guilty about having a rest. When sightseeing, try to plan the main parts of your day and transport to get about. If there’s too much walking or high activity, you can use public transport or taxis between periods of high activity and take plenty of rest breaks.
5.Make plans for your luggage
It’s important to use products that support your body when you’re out and about, as this will help make managing pain from the condition easier. Carrying around lots of heavy luggage will put the body under extra stress, so try to travel light when packing for day trips or excursions. Using compact, functional products like the Healthy Back Bag® will ensure that you’ve got room for all the essentials when you’re on the move. Versatile bags that allow users to adjust the strap length, or wear it in various ways to best suit their body, are reliable options that will help keep you comfortable while enjoying your holiday activities.
Beccy’s top tip: Remember any equipment or aids for getting about or doing everyday tasks. Check where any bulky items can go on your transport, especially if flying as different airlines may have different policies. For day trips, pack light and use a supportive backpack like the Healthy Back Bag or bag that fits in all your essentials. If you enjoy taking pictures on your phone while sightseeing, using a phone holder can help with your grip and safeguard against inflammation in the finger joints.
We hope to hear some fantastic stories about your travels and how you enjoyed your summer holidays. Make sure you plan well and use some top tips to make it as stress free and relaxing as possible!
*Survey carried out by Arthr via Vyper in March 2022. Total sample size of 775 adults with arthritisPhoto by Magda V on Unsplash