Traveling for the Holidays with PsA

The year is almost at an end, and we all know what that means. Holidays. Big, family-filled, hectic holidays. And with family gatherings usually comes a bit of travel. Whether you are taking a short car ride or a long flight, traveling can be exhausting, especially when you have an inflammatory disease and/or arthritis.

Don’t burn that boarding pass just yet. You don’t need to miss the fun-filled holidays with the fam just because you have psoriatic arthritis (PsA). Here are some tips to manage the pain and stiffness that could occur during your travels.

How can you plan ahead?

I am the queen of list-making. From groceries to getaways, there’s a list involved. What to get, what to bring, where to go. It makes my life so much easier. I’m not scrambling last minute to get it together. If you’re going away for the holidays, make a list of what you should bring. Clothes, medications, heating pads, creature comforts. Anything to make the trip a little easier. Don’t forget to check the weather and pack accordingly.

Traveling by plane? Bring a small blanket or neck pillow. Make sure your medications are handy in your carry-on. Also, don’t be shy in regards to calling the airline and requesting some wheels to your gate. There's no shame in utilizing their services so that you don’t have to walk the entirety of the airport.

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Road trippin’ it? Plan to stop occasionally and stretch, grab something to eat, and find a bathroom. If it’s a long trip, maybe look into a cheap motel to catch some z’s in before getting back on the road.

How should you pack?

Aim for under 25 pounds in total when it comes to luggage. Find a bag that has wheels and a handle so you can push (or pull. whichever is more comfortable) your way around.

I’ve found that bringing a few staple pieces of clothing and mixing and matching them, saves space and makes my life a little easier. Also check if where you’re going has a washing machine and dryer (if it’s a home) or a laundry service (if it’s a hotel, etc.) Don’t forget your walking aids, shoe inserts, compression socks, or anything else that helps alleviate painful symptoms. This leads me to my third tip.

Are your accommodations accessible?

If you are staying in a hotel or the like, request the first floor or a room next to the elevator. See if they have showers without tubs for easier access. Staying with family in their home? Ask for a bedroom on the first floor if one is available.

You can also contact your hotel and request to rent a scooter, wheelchair, or other mobility aids such as walkers and canes.

Is it worth the fancy shoes?

We love the dress shoes and heels for the holidays. Love it. But consider packing a pair of comfortable sneakers or shoes too. Slip on something comfortable after the group photo, even if it’s just around the house.

How can you keep up regular movement?

I know it can be tough to find places and spaces to move around in but try to get the blood flowing. Long periods of sitting can increase stiffness and pain. Walk up and down the aisles. Hop out of the car for a bit and stretch. Get up off the couch and work off that turkey and potatoes. If walking isn’t possible, stretch in place. Anything is better than nothing.

How can you find space to rest?

I know it’s a trip but is it a vacation? With all that family interaction, the holidays can be stressful. On not just our bodies but on our minds as well. Our social batteries can point to empty pretty quickly if we forget to recharge. Take some time for yourself. Go into a different room, take a walk outside, and retreat to a quiet space. You’re probably spending the holidays with the people you love and who love you. They want you happy and healthy too.

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