Arthritis Special Report
Arthritis On The Go
Practical tips on traveling more comfortably when you have arthritis, including measures you can take to minimize stiffness and pain on planes, trains, buses, cars and cruise ships!
Traveling can be a great way to relax or spend time with family. But for people with arthritis, getting to and from their destination can be more stressful than their regular routine.
If you have arthritis, sitting for long periods may make joints stiff, and dealing with luggage, transfers, and cramped seating can all contribute to pain and fatigue. Fortunately, whether you travel by plane, train, bus, car, or cruise ship, there are ways to minimize stress on joints.
Arthritis Tips For Traveling By Plane:
- Planning. Its important to make reservations early so that you will have more options. Be sure to mention your special arthritis needs to the reservation agent. Try to book a non-stop, direct flight to eliminate transfers, and avoid traveling at peak times of the day. Ask for a seat in an exit row or the bulkhead; these seats have more leg room. If you will need assistance in getting around the terminal, request a wheelchair or an airport cart in advance.
- En route. Check your large luggage so you wont end up carrying it. Carry your arthritis and other medications on board with you, in case your checked baggage gets lost or delayed. Also, take copies of your prescriptions and your doctors telephone number to minimize hassles when going through security. Bring along healthy snacks, and be sure to drink enough water to prevent dehydration. Use the small airline pillows to support your back or neck. Inform the flight attendant that you have arthritis and that you may need to get up periodically to stretch during the flight. Try the stretching exercises listed below to prevent joint stiffness.
Arthritis Tips For Traveling By Train:
- Planning. Make reservations early to guarantee a seat. Ask about discounted fares for disabled passengers. If needed, reserve a wheelchair at your stop and find out whether porters will be available to help you with boarding and exiting. Special requests can be made through Amtraks special service desk.
- En route. Be sure to pack lightly if you think you may be unable to get assistance with getting your baggage on and off the train. Remember to bring your own snacks so that you wont need to walk through the train to the dining car. Try to obtain an aisle seat near the restroom. Get up periodically and do the stretching exercises described below.
Arthritis Tips For Traveling By Bus:
- Planning. Consider scheduling trips for weekdays, when fewer people travel and buses are less crowded. Try to book your trip with as few transfers as possible. If you travel with an aide, a two-for-one fare may be available. Since most bus aisles are not wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, ask customer service if assistance will be available for getting on and off the bus. Also ask if a wheelchair must be collapsible to be transported on the bus.
- En route.Bring a pillow or a cervical collar to make naps more comfortable. Take along snacks or small meals if you anticipate that it will be difficult to get off the bus at food stops. Try the stretching exercises below to avoid stiffness.
Arthritis Tips For Traveling By Car:
- Planning. Traveling by car offers the most freedom, as you can set your own schedule and stop whenever you like. Still, its important to plan for contingencies. Remember to take a handicapped parking permit with you, if you have one. Also, bring medications, snacks, maps, and water and pack them in easily accessible places. Consider taking along a cell phone. When renting a car, ask about special features, such as power steering, cruise control, and lift-up door handles.
- En route. Riding in a car for extended periods can lead to joint stiffness and swelling. To prevent this, stop about every hour and a half and do the stretching exercises described below.
Arthritis Tips For Taking A Cruise:
- Planning. Before booking a cruise, ask about the ships design and accessibility, such as whether hallways, doorways, and elevators are wide enough for a wheelchair and whether rooms are wheelchair accessible. Also mention any special dietary needs when making your reservation.
- En route. Some cruise ships offer gentle exercise classes, which you may wish to try to help minimize joint stiffness. If disembarking at stops is difficult, you may wish to stay on board while others go ashore.
Simple Arthritis Stretching Exercises
Good posture is important during travel to keep stiffness and pain at bay. Sit up straight, pull in your stomach muscles, and keep your shoulders down and relaxed. To help maintain this posture while driving, keep the rearview mirror at a level that forces you to sit up tall. In addition, the following stretching exercises can help minimize stiffness:
- Raise and lower your shoulders a few times, and then rotate them in circles.
- Tilt your head gently to the right and then to the left; then turn your head slowly to each side.
- Stretch your arms in front of you, then out to the side, and finally toward your back, squeezing your shoulder blades together.
- Make a fist with both hands; then open your hands and separate your fingers as far apart as you can.
- Rotate your ankles, then flex them a few times.
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Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Disclaimer
Posted in Arthritis on April 12, 2006