Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
Traveling With Ankylosing Spondylitis
photo of people standing at boarding gate

Vacations are supposed to be fun. A time to relax and recharge. Of course, that isn’t always the case when you have AS. Sometimes just getting to the destination can be enough to cause pain and discomfort that make it impossible to relax. So, I thought I would share a few of the things I’ve learned in my travels. 

Expect the best. Plan for the worst.

When you are traveling, it’s always a good idea to be prepared. At least as prepared as you can be. For example, I bring my cane with me when we travel. I very rarely have to use it right now, but when I need it, I need it. It only took me traveling without it once to learn this lesson. 

The first step for me is making sure my medications are easy to get to. You don’t want them buried under piles of bags or, even worse, in your checked luggage if you’re flying! I put all my medicine bottles that I’ll need in a baggie. This makes it easy to store in my backpack. Plus, it’s super easy for my wife to grab them without her having to search for the right bottle. 

Another thing to travel with is a small TENS unit. This is great for long car rides. My lower back has a tendency to cramp up on long car rides. I have a small TENS unit that helps massage away the knots. This thing can be a lifesaver. 

Try to stay ahead of the pain. Make more stops if you’re driving. Just a quick little walk around the car and some gentle stretches will help with fend off the pain. You can even plan your route through small towns. You can find some hidden treasures this way. 

If you’re flying, give yourself plenty of time to navigate the airports. Take advantage of the shuttle service if the airport offers it. I also check in with the gate agent and request to preboard. This just gives me a little more time to get settled. Less stress usually equals less pain. 

My last little bit of advice is to take it slow. We try to add an extra travel day on our trips. This allows me to relax and recover before we actually “start” the vacation. Listen to your body. If you need to take a break or slow down, then, by all means, do it. That moment of trying to “tough it out” could ruin the rest of your trip. Just take everything slow and enjoy.

Hope these tips help your travel. Traveling is my happy place. I love to experience different places, and I’m not going to let AS stop me! 




Photo Credit: izusek / E+ via Getty Images

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Daniel Garcia

Daniel Garcia

Diagnosed since 2003

Daniel Garcia was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis in 2003. He enjoys gardening and traveling in his pop-up camper with his wife, Melissa, and dogs Chloe and Tilly on his good days. Garcia writes about travel on and gardening, technology, and DIY on You can connect with Daniel via his Instagram account.

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