10 Travel Tips for Psoriatic Arthritis

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

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.

Man carrying laptop bag checking his wrist watch.

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.

Suitcase packed for beach vacation and medications.

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.

Doctor with model airplane, travel with medical condition concept.

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.

Two happy couples shopping for groceries on vacation.

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.

Young women on vacation together.

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.

Young woman with phone resting in hammock on vacation.

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.

Woman's feet in bathtub.

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.

Man getting ice from hotel ice machine.

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.

Woman having a bad day on beach vacation.

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.

Young woman working at hotel reception desk.

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.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
Meet Our Writer
Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Tracyshealthyliving.com. Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.