Three Travel Tips That Will Make Any Vacation Better

Traveling with psoriatic arthritis and similar painful chronic illnesses can be difficult, but not impossible. In my 17+ years of living with chronic pain, I have discovered that I can enjoy exploring the world as long as I follow three general rules.

Get real

When planning my vacation I have to be realistic. While a vacation is an opportunity to escape my daily life, there is no escaping my illness. I must choose my destination and mode of transportation with my conditions and limitations in mind. How will my body react to the climate? Will my choice of transportation increase my “normal” pain level? In addition I must keep myself grounded when planning daily excursions. Is it realistic for me to expect my body to be out of bed and on the go for multiple days? Are the excursions I wish to experience accessible? Will I be able to bring my walker or wheelchair? Am I padding my itinerary with enough time for my body to rest and recover from each outing?


For the average person a vacation is a time of rest, even when filled with activities. For those of us who live with chronic illnesses, a vacation is often more exhausting than our daily lives. I prepare by resting prior to my departure. Packing my bags as far in advance as possible reduces my stress and helps me clearly see what last minute items need to be included. When packing for a trip I pack with my conditions in mind. I like to think of them as extra passengers. I choose outfits that won’t bother my skin or bind swelling muscles or joints. Although my hope is to not experience a severe flare, I pack as many of the items that provide my body comfort and relief. I’d rather travel with items that I didn’t need to use than to be away from home, flaring, and wishing I had them with me.


Psoriatic arthritis has no regard for my schedule. Predicting a flare is like trying to predict an earthquake, it is impossible and will hit when I least expect or want it to. No matter how carefully I have prepared and planned, I have to accept that I may not be able to do everything. Instead of allowing this unpredictability to darken my experience, I focus on what I am able to do. Last year I was in San Francisco for five days and only had the strength and pain level to handle one day of site seeing. Some might view that as a terrible experience, yet I see it as a victory. I went, I saw the sites that I most wanted to see, and most importantly I accepted that my body couldn’t do more.

No matter where you go this summer, don’t forget to get real, prepare, and accept! Happy travels!

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