Travel Tips for People with Rheumatoid Arthritis
I also wanted to do a blog about what it's been like to travel as someone with rheumatoid arthritis and how I prepared for this trip.
3 Tips for Preparing to Travel with Rheumatoid Arthritis/Autoimmune Diseases
Before you jet off into the vast unknown, here are 3 things you can do to prepare for travel:
Make sure you have enough medication. It was a bit of a hassle to get a three month's supply of Xeljanz in advance, but I was able to get it approved by my insurance company. It may take some coordinating with your insurance and the drug company, especially if you're traveling for more than a month, so plan ahead.
Pare down your supplements to essentials-only. For me, that was vitamin D3, L-Glutamine, iron (for my ferriten deficiency), and probiotics. But these were quite a few pill bottles to bring for a full three months' supply, so just know your precious luggage space might be hijacked by your pills. On the plus side, if you're taking a long trip you'll get more bag space over time :)
Talk to your doctor and nutritionist and see if you need travel-friendly medication or herbal options. My doctor prescribed me some additional medications just for an emergency flare-up if necessary. I don't think I'll need it, but it's nice to have just in case. My nutritionist suggested passionflower tea for anxiety and to take before flights to help me sleep.
Preparation is key for having a good trip, so make sure to pack well to reduce any travel stress!
Maintaining an Healthy Routine While Traveling
I've tried to stay pretty close to a vegan diet on most days that I'm traveling because I feel better and it reduces my joint swelling dramatically.
I try to limit any dairy products to can't-miss things, like pizza in Naples and Brooklyn. Otherwise, I have nuts and fruit on hand for snacks, and choose veggie-heavy meals when I can. Not having a travel-binge will help you enjoy your travels more.
Another big travel tip I've been embracing is having a workout routine and doing yoga and other workouts when you're on the road. Finding gyms or yoga studios can be tricky (especially English classes in foreign countries that fit your schedule!) so I love using YouTube and workout apps to do yoga classes and short workouts in parks.
Those of us with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis need to take workouts and maintaining healthy habits more seriously, especially for longer trips. So make sure you're meditating and working out and getting the downtime you need to regulate your nervous system and combat travel stress to prevent flare-ups.
Here's more info about what I do to stay healthy and some of my favorite workout apps for travel.
Plan Better Trips for Lower Stress
Instead of doing six cities in ten days, maybe slow down and do two cities in a week. Our travel cadence is more like one city every two weeks which helps us learn the city like locals and also not have to worry about switching hostels and hopping on planes or trains every few days.
By spending more time in one spot, you can also space out tours and other must-see stops. That will help naturally lower your stress so you can still see the world without rushing or getting burned out or too far out of your routine.
I know that walking tours really tank my energy, so I try to give those a lot of space in our travel calendar when planning trips.
At the end of the day, traveling with an autoimmune disease is about making good chances, planning things well in advance, and trying to reduce stress along the journey.