How to Adjust to Life With Arthritis

Traveling and Arthritis

You wouldn't think of taking a trip without packing at least some self-care items. And chances are, you wouldn't go on vacation without making at least some plans to ensure your comfort and enjoyment. For the person with arthritis, such advance planning is essential to a safe, comfortable journey.

Here is a "travel bag" of joint-friendly travel tips:

  • Find a travel agent willing to discuss your travel needs and preferences, find appropriate accommodations, and keep a list of your needs on file.
  • On planes, trains, or buses, request a seat near the front, preferably on the aisle. At the terminal, take advantage of preboarding calls for persons who need extra time in boarding. Reserve a wheelchair or ask to be transported to your gate. Have airline personnel load and unload baggage. Allow ample time between connecting flights.
  • Use a carry-on bag with a shoulder strap and luggage on wheels. Consider getting a lightweight, foldable luggage cart.
  • Contact motel chains to inquire about ground-floor rooms, elevators, wheelchair ramps, bathroom rails, and other features to increase comfort and save energy. If the motel has a floor plan, ask to have it sent to you ahead of time so you can request a room near facilities you most want or need.
  • Get a list of doctors, pharmacies, and health-care services in cities along your travel route, and take your own doctor's phone number with you. Take ample supplies of your medications, copies of your prescriptions, and any regularly used items such as a heating pad, ice pack, pair of stretch gloves, or special pillow.
  • If your travels require you to be seated for several hours at a time, get up and stretch your legs or do some range-of-motion exercises in your seat at least once every hour.
  • Don't overload your agenda. Schedule time for rest and exercises.

In the end, what you need to do to live well with arthritis is not that different from what all people need to do to cope well with the peaks and valleys of life. Granted, arthritis introduces more rough roads and more detours. But it can also teach you to take better care of yourself, to find new ways of viewing and dealing with adversity, and to look forward to and enjoy each and every good day. That's what wellness is all about.


Diana L. Anderson, Ph.D., is the author of 50 Ways to Cope with Arthritis and a past First-Vice President of the Association of Rheumatology Professionals. She is the President, CEO and founder of D. L. Anderson International, Inc., parent company to subsidiary D. Anderson & Company, a patient recruitment and retention provider and is recognized internationally as an expert in her field. For more information, visit her website at


Eric Gall, M.D., is a professor and chairman of the Department of Medicine, professor of microbiology and immunology, and chief of the Division of Rheumatology at the Chicago Medical School of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science. He is a master of the American College of Rheumatology and the American College of Physicians and former president of the Association of Rheumatology Health Professionals. He has a long-time interest in multidisciplinary care of arthritis and is active in both the national and local chapters of the Arthritis Foundation.

Paul Katz, M.D., is Professor and Vice Chairman, Department of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Rheumatology, Immunology and Allergy, at Georgetown University Medical Center. Dr. Katz serves on the Council on Education of the American College of Rheumatology and is a member of the Government Affairs Committee of the Arthritis Foundation.

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