In one of our recent Facebook chats, the subject of traveling with lupus was discussed. After many people wrote in about their travel experiences, challenges and tips regarding travel, I thought, “Why not write a blog about it!!??!!” So, here it is!
Many people enjoy traveling. Exploring different places, cultures, foods and sights can be inspiring and life-changing. However, the stress of travel and the physical toll it can take can be extremely difficult for someone suffering from lupus.
So, how do you enjoy your travels without causing yourself to go into a lupus flare? What can you do to make traveling less stressful and more enjoyable? Here is our Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus Travel Guide!
- If you will be traveling for an extended period, you may need to refill your prescriptions ahead of time. Allow a few extra days for this process because most pharmacies need an additional approval from your insurance to do so.
- Regarding packing your medications, make sure to have them securely in a pill box that you are able to keep in a briefcase, purse or carry on. Never put your medications in a checked bag. Reason being, if your checked luggage gets delayed or lost, you won’t be in a major medical bind.
- Write out on a card your in-case-of-an-emergency person, doctor(s) names and phone numbers, allergies, major health concerns and medications you take. Keep it in a briefcase, purse or carry on.
- Ask your doctor if you are ready for a flu shot or need any vaccines before traveling.
- Most people take airborne or other “immune boosting” supplements before traveling. Remember, you are not “most people” and need to be careful about taking anything that supposedly “rev’s up” your immune system. Check with your doctor before taking anything like that, especially if it contains echinacea.
- It is always best to do pre-board check in. This allows you to select a seat that hopefully has more leg room. Aisle seats are nice, particularly since it gives you the advantage of being able to get up more without feeling like you are inconveniencing the person next to you.
- When you are on the plane, try and get up as much as you can when the seatbelt sign is off. Going to the restroom is a great way to stretch your legs, do a small back bend or twist, some wrist and shoulder circles and stretch your neck.
- Also, for those who suffer from nose sores, ask your doctor if vaseline is safe to use on the flight to prevent your sore from getting irritated from the dry recycled air.
- Ask the flight attendant for extra water. Keeping hydrated is important.
- If you are on a long flight, ask your doctor if it is safe to take a mild sleeping pill. It may help you rest before your vacation starts!
The Hotel Room
- Go for a non-smoking room.
- Ask for a room that is close to the elevator and in a convenient location. It is good to stay at a hotel that meets ADA standards. That means that they have wheelchair accessible rooms, with amenities like shower & toilet hand bars.
- The bed. Oh… the bed. This can make or break your hotel stay. Don’t be a hero, ask for more pillows if you need them. Bring your own pillow if you know that will help you sleep better.
- Bring a gel hot/cold pack and stick it in your mini-fridge. Use it at night on your sore muscles or joints.
Getting Around Town
- If you suffer from joint pain or immobility, many airports, museums and other public attractions offer wheelchairs and motorized scooters.
- Take this opportunity to relax. Take a taxi, a carriage ride, a rikshaw. Don’t wear yourself out the first or second day!
- You, like most of us, probably know what foods make you feel crummy. It is important to stay away from symptom trigger foods and most definitely be proactive about avoiding food allergies. If traveling to a different country, learn how to say “shellfish” or “egg” or whatever your allergy may be in that language. NO is a pretty universally understood word.
- Ask your doctor if it is safe for you to take probiotics. Those help with “traveling belly.”
- Ask your doctor about adding motion sickness pills, anti diarrheal, benadryl, tylenol or ibuprofen to your “in case of…” bag of medications.
- Keep all medications together in a clear bag (zip-locks work great) to make things easier for you and make things easier at any security checkpoints.
In Case of an Emergency
- Before you leave on your trip, research what the closest hospitals are around the location where you will be that accept your insurance.
- Always wear a medical alert bracelet if you have allergies, or other life-threatening conditions.
- In your phone, create a new contact that begins with ICE. ICE stands for “in case of emergency.” If something were to happen, a first responder would be able to check your phone and contact that person. Examples would be “ICE – NICK” or “ICE – SALLY.”
We hope you have found our Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus travel guide helpful! Safe travels! Bon voyage!
*All images unless otherwise noted are property of and were created by Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus. To use one of these images, please contact us at [email protected] for written permission; image credit and link-back must be given to Molly’s Fund Fighting Lupus. **All resources provided by Molly’s Fund are for informational purposes only and should be used as a guide or for supplemental information, not to replace the advice of a medical professional. The personal views do not necessarily encompass the views of the organization, but the information has been vetted as a relevant resource. We encourage you to be your strongest advocate and always contact your medical provider with any specific questions or concerns.