Tips for travelling with arthritis 

20 June 2022

Here’s some tips on how to make your holidays memorable for all the right reasons.

Planning ahead

Research is key when it comes to going on holiday, as is pre-booking everything you can.

If you are flying, you can book ‘special assistance’ which will take you through the whole process – including getting on and off the plane. Most airlines and airports will provide free help and assistance for people with mobility issues and those in wheelchairs. Airports vary, but there will be specific information on their website.

There are also rainbow lanyard schemes available at airports for you to wear to indicate that you might need extra support. These can be collected at the special assistance desks. Some airports, such as Manchester airport also offer dedicated quieter spaces for special assistance guests

Train companies in the UK also offer ‘passenger assist’, which is available 24 hours a day and pre-bookable. Some companies also offer lanyards similar to airports, for example, London North Eastern Railway (LNER). Transport for London also have their ‘please offer me a seat’ badge for travellers on the Underground, buses, river and Overground services.

On the journey

Wherever you go, there may be times when you are sitting for long periods, whether that’s in a car, on a train, coach or flight.

Everyone’s muscles and joints can feel stiffer when they’re sat still for a period of time, and some people will tolerate journeys better than others.

Try to change position as often as possible. For example, swap from sitting to standing, and move your joints around when practical.

You can do some simple stretching exercises during the journey or while waiting for connections. Check out our full body stretching exercises.

Moving every 20 to 30 minutes is ideal, but some people will be able to last longer than this. For car journeys, try a practice run on shorter routes and assess how the joints react to periods of reduced movement. It may be that you can manage an hour or longer before significant issues arise. It also allows you to practise how much movement is sufficient to relieve those symptoms.

Make sure you have easy access to your pain relief to help you on your journey.

Getting the right accommodation

Do your research when it comes to where you are staying.

If mobility is an issue for you, then book a room on the ground floor or near a lift. If you need mobility aids in your accommodation. Make sure you know exactly the amount of space available in the room so you can easily move around, especially if you are in a wheelchair.

Consider the entirety of the journey and ensure awareness of even the step into the room.

Go exploring

Being on holiday means you might want to get out and about to explore the area. How much you do is dependent on what it is that you want to achieve during your holiday.,

Be aware of what you can do before you travel: what you can do with no increase in symptoms; what you can do with an acceptable increase in symptoms and what happens if you exceed this. This will allow you to plan your activities with appropriate rest, or have a busy day followed by an easier one.

The key to your trip is to plan. Gain as much information about terrain, distances, location of amenities and help available before leaving.

Prioritise the things you want to do, to make sure you don’t miss out. It’s OK to push yourself for activities you really want to do. Just make sure you have planned downtime afterwards after your enjoyable day sightseeing.

Tips from those in the know

Here’s more suggestions for better holidays from our social media community.

“Book assisted travel with the airline. It means me and my husband get on the plane first so have time to get into our seats and put away our overhead bags too. Always book near the front or back next to the loos. Also a large bottle of water to keep hydrated after you get through security.” Audrey

Source: Versus Arthritis Facebook

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