Summer is approaching. Along with hot temperatures, summer often brings opportunities to travel. Continue to learn how to be prepared while traveling.
Preparation Is Key
Planning is key when traveling. #RAWarriors should really take this concept to heart as a little extra preparation can go a long way towards limiting frustrations. Find out as much as you can about your destination and plan ahead. Create an itinerary including places and sites to go, the mode of transport, and build in enough time to rest.
Travel can be fun, exciting, and stimulating. It can also be exhausting. Again, planning in the right amount of time to rest can be the difference between a stressful challenge and a leisurely vacation. An easy way to reduce stress for people with RA who include airports as part of their travel plans is to arrive with plenty of time to spare.
The typical recommendation is to arrive two hours early for domestic flights and three hours early for international flights. Security and check-ins require long standing times. Giving oneself more time than anticipated will give you time to rest and will reduce the stress of being in a time crunch.
Talking to a travel agent or an airport official might be worth the extra time and preparation. Special arrangements for assistive devices and inter-airport support (wheelchair help, carts when crossing terminals) are readily available.
Timing the vacation for when the climate is most suitable is also a good consideration. If the heat triggers flares, look for options that have cooler climates and vice versa.
Gathering materials such as daily medicine, emergency medicine, anti-biotics, sunscreen, bug-spray, cough medicine, etc. and consolidating them into one bag or hard-case box is a good idea for easy locating in the case of preventive measures or minor emergencies.
Another way to prepare, especially for a true emergency, is bringing contact information for your RA treatment team. This can be beneficial in case of lost prescriptions and more.
The Effects of Airplanes
It’s very common to experience enlarged feet and swollen legs while on a plane. Blood is collecting in the lower extremities because of the extended period of sitting. The swelling is also due to the pressure in the plane cabin. For #RAWarriors with heart problems, this can be a real concern—the swelling could lead to blood clots.
Getting up and stretching especially the legs is a great way to get the blood moving again. Gently massaging the legs may also help stimulate blood flow.
A surprising effect of flying is bloating. The pressure of the cabin and the lack of humidity can quickly pull fluid from the body. Certain foods may cause stomach bloating for #RAWarriors. The dietary triggers differ from person to person, but some anecdotes of #RAWarriors have reported that red meat, poultry, and dairy can cause gastrointestinal issues.
It’s good to prepare for the usual abdominal discomfort that comes along with flights. For international flights, in particular, talk to a medical provider about antacids, seltzer water, other over-the-counter medications, or prescription medications to treat the discomfort of bloating and gas. Also, figure out which diet works best to decrease any abdominal discomfort.
Nearly everyone traveling by plane will experience some dehydration. It’s very easy to become dehydrated — the cabin humidity levels are pretty much at zero. Dehydration can affect mental clarity, mood, the immune system, and the overall comfort of the body. Make a conscious effort to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.
It can be a good idea to bring an empty water bottle with you to the airport. After going through security screening, you can fill it up!
A Well-Planned Itinerary, Research, Supplies, and Rest-Time
Planning, researching your destination, packing adequate medical supplies, and including time to rest will significantly and positively impact travel plans. Consolidating this information in a physical and digital file is also helpful.
With a bit of additional planning, traveling can be a great experience — stay safe, take your time, & enjoy 😀