Traveling with rheumatoid arthritis is a little more complicated, but it doesn't have to be less fun.
"There's no reason you can't travel just because you have RA," says Victoria Ruffing, RN, program manager at the Johns Hopkins Arthritis Center in Baltimore. "You just need to take some extra precautions before you go."
Planning Pain-Free Travel
First things first: Where are you going? Most of the world should be open to you, but there are a few things to think about.
- Make it relaxing. If you have RA, you need rest. If you don't get it, your symptoms could flare. So make sure to plan plenty of downtime. Now is probably not the time to plan a trip around the world. You can go just about anywhere you like, as long as you don’t overload your plans, says Jane McCabe, OTR/L, an occupational therapist and certified aging-in-place specialist in Laguna Hills, Calif.
- Set your own pace. If you're thinking about traveling with family or friends or on a tour, make sure that you won't be stuck on a strict or draining schedule, McCabe says. You need to have control over your day.
- Plan for your health. Will you have easy access to medical care if you need it? Identify hospitals and a pharmacy in the areas where you’ll be traveling.
Talk to Your Doctor
Before you go, ask your doctor:
- Does this trip seem like a good idea? If you're new to traveling with RA, see what your doctor thinks about your trip plans.
- What vaccinations do I need? You may not be able to receive certain travel vaccines if you’re on a biologic medication.
- Should I take any special medications? Your doctor might want you to have other drugs on the road in case you run into problems. For instance, steroids could help if you overdo it and have a painful flare, Ruffing says. Antibiotics could be handy if you get an infection.
- Can I get an extra copy of my prescriptions? Losing your medication could derail your trip.