8 Tips for Traveling with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lene Andersen | Nov 29, 2012 Oct 20, 2016

1 of 9
1 of 9

Rheumatoid arthritis can make your life difficult and complicated even when you’re just staying at home.  It can make things that much harder when you’re traveling, whether it’s by plane, train or automobile. Here are some ways to help make a journey less stressful.

2 of 9

Adjust your medication schedule

If traveling by plane, talk to your doctor about how to adjust medication schedules if you’re crossing several time zones, and make sure you get the proper vaccinations. Be aware that you should not get certain vaccinations - e.g., yellow fever and polio - when you’re on an immunosuppressant.

3 of 9

Have an emergency travel kit

Not only should you plan to take more medication than you need in case of travel delays, consider asking your doctor for a sort of “emergency travel kit” of medications–one that includes antibiotics and a prednisone dose pack in case of infection or an unexpected flare.

4 of 9

Pack medication in a carry-on bag

That way, if your suitcase gets diverted or lost, your medication will be safe in your hands. Pack your meds and supplies in a separate bag (e.g. Ziploc bag) to make it easier for security officers to inspect them. Medication and related supplies are usually X-rayed, but the Transportation Security Administration allows you to request a visual inspection of these items if arranged with the security officer beforehand.

5 of 9

Carry supporting documents

Keep medications in the original container and have the label match the name on your boarding pass. Ask your doctor for a letter explaining the prescriptions. If you require syringes, the letter should explain these are necessary for your medication. Carry letters (on letterhead) with the name, location and contact information of both your doctor and your pharmacist.

6 of 9

Store medication in the proper place

Always keep all your medication in a cool, dry and dark place (i.e., not in the trunk of your car). If you’re traveling with biologics, such as Enbrel or Humira that need to be refrigerated within a certain range of temperature, place the medication in a small travel cooler for shorter trips. For longer trips, wrap it in bubblewrap and place it in the travel cooler with ice and a thermometer.

7 of 9

Manage infectious risk

If you’re concerned about infection risk in the confined space of an airplane, speak to your doctor about what precautions you can take. These may include carrying hand sanitizer and a mask. If your seatmate looks at you funny, explain that you’re on a medication that lowers your immune system and that you’re wearing the mask to protect yourself.

8 of 9

If you are driving a car

There are a number of things you can do to be more comfortable. Adjust the seat to fit your body, e.g., if your hips hurt, adjust the back and the seat so you don’t sit in a 90 degree angle. If sitting for long stretches of time hurts your back, try an Obus Forme back cushion for better support, or place a pillow or cushion on the seat to ease the pressure on your hips.

9 of 9

If you are a passenger

Cut a long trip into smaller sections and consider taking the scenic route, so you can make frequent stops for refreshments, bathroom breaks, stretching your legs, and pulling over to admire the landscape. When traveling as a passenger, bring pillows and cushions to arrange yourself comfortably. Backpacks can double as a support for your legs.

NEXT: How to Get Mobile after RA Surgeries
More on this topic

Becoming Empowered With RA

Britt J Johnson

Emotional Impact of Side Effects from RA Meds

Lene Andersen

How Micael Kuluva Keeps RA Fashionable

Lene Andersen

How to Get a Disability Parking Permit for Your Car

Lene Andersen

Study Finds Possible RA Trigger in Gut Bacteria

Lene Andersen

Biologics Q&A with Dr. Peng

Yumhee Park

How Do You Define Yourself?

Anna Legassie

The Struggles of Finding a Job with RA

Leslie Rott

6 Questions to Consider before Starting Biologics for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lene Andersen

How a Dietitian Can Help with RA

Lene Andersen

10 Reasons I'm Thankful for My Chronic Illness

Lene Andersen

Winter and RA: Surviving the Cold

Lene Andersen

What's Causing Your RA Fatigue?

Lene Andersen

10 Essential Relationship Tips with RA

Lene Andersen

4 Surprising Joints Affected by RA

Lene Andersen

Getting a Total Hip Replacement with RA

Lene Andersen

Joy as a Coping Tool for Chronic Conditions

Lene Andersen

What Are the Extra-articular Effects of RA?

Lene Andersen

Finding a Good Doctor

Leslie Rott

How to Have a Good Planning System

Marianna Paulson

A Beginner's Guide to Biologics

Lene Andersen

Changing RA Treatments

Lisa Emrich

Yes, You Can Garden with RA

Marianna Paulson

Do You Know How to Manage Your Pain?

Allison Tsai

Simple Exercises for All Levels of RA

HC Editorial Staff

Complement Your RA Treatment with These Awesome Therapies

Amanda Page

How Do Biologics Treat RA?

Allison Tsai

10 Questions to Ask Your Doctor About RA

Lene Andersen

How to Reinvent Yourself

Lene Andersen

Do Not Be Afraid To File For FMLA Protection

Vanessa Collins

Different Types of RA

Mark Borigini, M.D.

Wrist splints pros and cons

Christine Miller

'American Ninja Warrior' Host on Living With RA

Emil DeAndreis

Finding Beauty in Living With a Chronic Illness

Cathy Kramer

Fierce Mom on a Mission: A Profile of Paula Fitzgibbons

Lene Andersen

One Woman’s Invention Makes Winter Bearable for People with RA

Casey Nilsson

How to Modify Your Workout to Fit RA

Emil DeAndreis

Finding Joy in Life with RA

Lene's Update on Life with RA

Finding Happiness with RA: Anna's Story

Traci Martin Talks Managing RA While Attempting a World Record

Loving Baseball with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Lene Andersen

4 Questions and Answers about Managing Rheumatoid Arthritis and Diabetes

Lawrence 'Rick' Phillips

Traci Martin: Traveling the Great Lakes and Beyond with RA

The HealthCentral Editorial Team

Myths and Misperceptions about Biologics

Lene Andersen

RA Resolutions for the Holidays and Beyond!

Marianna Paulson

How to Get Mobile after Surgery

Marianna Paulson

The Must-Read Guide to Biologics

Lene Andersen

Meet Mariah Leach: Mom, Blogger, Bicyclist

Lene Andersen

What to Know About Using Biologics

Lene Andersen

8 Facts About RA and Heart Disease

Allison Tsai