10 Travel Tips for Psoriatic Arthritis
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. | May 8, 2018
There is something particularly exciting about a well-deserved vacation. However, the extra demands of a trip can worsen your psoriatic arthritis symptoms without proper planning. Read on for 10 simple tips to help make your journey as pain-free as possible.
Plan extra time
Travel is unpredictable. Getting to your destination rarely happens without a hitch. Planning a little extra time to get somewhere can ultimately lower your stress levels and may even provide an unplanned rest time if your travel is going better than expected.
Consolidate medical information and supplies
Gallon size re-closable plastic bags make great storage containers for medications, insurance cards, and a list of all the prescriptions and dosages you are currently taking. Having everything medically related in one bag can be extremely helpful, especially if you need medical care on your trip.
Talk to your doctor before your trip
Travel often involves getting out of your comfort zone and trying new adventures. Unfortunately, new activities can lead to flare ups. If you let your doctor know in advance of your plans, he may prescribe a short-term medication that can prevent excess joint tenderness after your adventure.
Keep your diet clean
It is super easy to get off track with your eating when you are away from home. However, certain foods can cause inflammation and can contribute to flare-ups. Visiting the local grocery store upon arrival and stocking up on healthy snacks, fresh fruits, and vegetables will help you feel your best on your trip.
Make your travel partners part of your team
Positive communication with your travel mates before the trip can really set the stage for some much-deserved self-care. For example, you might tell them: “One of the things I am really looking forward to on this vacation is having the time to take care of myself.” This way, if you choose a relaxing day at the pool instead of bungee jumping, they will understand this is a day you looked forward to ahead of the trip.
Schedule rest periods
Elite athletes understand very well the importance of rest periods. If you have psoriatic arthritis, you already know that your condition can get worse if you have an especially active day. When making your travel plans, make a point to also schedule rest and recovery periods, especially following physically demanding days.
Heat to warm up
Back pain can be a hallmark symptom of psoriatic arthritis and has the potential to limit your travels. Heating the low back has been shown to reduce pain and increase function and mobility. Before you begin your day, try taking a warm bath or soak in the hot tub. If warm water bothers your skin, you can try gentle stretches to get your body warmer from the inside.
Ice to cool down
Cold therapy is also known as cryotherapy. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, cold therapy can reduce swelling tied to pain. It can be particularly effective when the pain is around a joint or tendon. Hotel ice in a plastic bag that is wrapped in a towel can make a great ice pack to apply after a long day of travel or intense activity.
It’s OK to have a bad day
If you find yourself having a bad day on your trip, try not to worry too much about it. Even though vacations can be special occasions, they are also a part of life. Undoubtedly, you will have good days and bad days on vacation even if you don’t have psoriatic arthritis. Increased stress levels can make your symptoms worse, so if you are having a bad day, focus on the good times ahead.
Use all available resources
Even if you do not require extra accommodations at home, you may benefit from using all available resources when you travel. Before your trip, check out the guest services available at the resorts or parks you will be visiting for things like golf carts, close parking spaces, and wheelchairs for especially long days. Do not consider it a sign of weakness, rather think of it as extra and well-deserved self-care.