Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is primarily a disease of the joints. But the disease and many of the medications used to treat it can also affect the skin, causing problems as diverse as sun sensitivity, rash, and firm lumps of tissue called nodules.
1. Do your homework. Find out as much as you can about your destination and plan all the details you can ahead, including what places you'll go, how you'll get there, and what your travel companions can do when you need a rest.
2. Time it right. Choose a time when you are most likely to be feeling your best. If you are prone to flares during the heat of the summer or the hustle and bustle of the holidays, for example, try to avoid traveling during those times.
3. Don't rush. Although vacations can be fun and restful, they can also be stressful. Try to plan an extra day at the start of your vacation to prepare and another at the end to rest and recuperate before going back to work or regular activities.
4. Ask about immunizations. If you will be traveling overseas, ask your doctor about any immunizations you may need. Keep in mind that some immunizations are not advised if you are taking medications that suppress your immune system.
What to Pack
5. Select the right suitcase. Purchase a suitcase or carry-on with wheels, and push instead of pulling it. Use both hands. Doing so will conserve energy and avoid strain on your hands and shoulders.
6. Pack light. A lighter suitcase is easier to push -- and lift, if necessary. If you find that you must lift your suitcase -- into your car trunk or the overhead bin on a plane, for example -- find someone who can help.
7. Don't forget your health info. Write out a brief medical history and list of medications you take. Include contact information for your primary care doctor and rheumatologist, as well as your health insurance information.
8. Mind your medications. Pack more medicine than you think you will need and divide your medications among your different bags. If one bag is lost, you should still have enough medicine to get by. Leave a copy of your prescriptions at home with a friend or family member. If you lose your medications or are gone longer than expected, have them fax you your prescription.
On Your Way
9. Don't just sit there. Sitting for hours in a car, plane, bus, or train can lead to stiff joints. When driving, stop once an hour to stretch and walk. When flying or riding a bus, try to get an aisle seat so you can stretch and get up and walk.