Now that people are starting to travel again, I think back to the days when I used to travel. I mostly traveled for work but would travel some for vacation. These days, I have a different job where I don’t travel, and I haven’t vacationed in a while. My travel these days (outside of fighting Atlanta traffic to get to work and church) mostly consists of driving several hours to visit Mama and my sister.
Why am I rambling on about my travels? Because this blog is about my travails of travel and what I have learned over the years. With this, it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. This is a very deep saying, but for this blog, it’s also very literal. Knowing what to do with travel is just as important as where you are going.
First, your mode of travel determines what you will need. Your travel-by-car preparations can be different than your travel-by-plane preparations. Unfortunately, I am not well versed on train and cruise travel, but I’ve logged a lot of miles in the air and on the highway. I’m not quite Johnny Cash saying I’ve been everywhere man, but of travel, I’ve had my share. These are just things that I did, or to be honest, wish I had done more to make travel just a bit easier on me.
With air travel, you have a few different segments to think about. First off is your pre-flight time. If you are like me, you like to get to the airport early to give yourself time to get through security, get to your gate, maybe grab a snack, get some work done, etc. Remember that you keep everything with you, so pack accordingly. Bags with wheels are your friend. Looking back at my work travels, I wish I had a rolling briefcase or computer bag. Lugging a heavy backpack or messenger bag on my shoulder for a long time was painful on my back and shoulders. In other words, make sure you can carry around everything you need to keep with you. Also, make sure you keep your medications with you. If you have prescription or OTC medications, make sure they aren’t with your checked bag. If your checked bag is delayed, you don’t want your medication delayed as well. Speaking of medication, if you have ANY questions at all about taking your prescription medication through security, get with TSA. If you have shots, ice packs, etc., it doesn’t hurt to do your due diligence. Check with the airlines, TSA, and your doctor if you want, just to put your mind at ease.
Now that you’ve made it pre-flight, let’s talk about the plane. If you need extra time boarding, they have it available, and let them know. Next, seat selection is important. I’m better off being in my seat and not moving, so I prefer a window seat. You may be the type who needs to get up and move, in which case an aisle seat may be better for you. Another thing, if you don’t have to go from the plane to an event, dress for comfort. Flights are usually a couple of hours long, at least, so make sure you have comfort and room to maneuver. Going back to pre-flight, slip-on shoes are good if you have to take them off at security. Also, if you have two carry-on bags (one under the seat and one in the overhead compartment), make sure to keep your essentials under the seat for easier access. Things like medication, compression gloves, snacks, etc., should be closer at hand. If you have mobility aids, make sure you know where they are or how to get to them post-flight.
Speaking of post-flight, just know that once the flight is over, everyone stands up even though it takes a while to get moving. It can be crowded and it can be frustrating. Do your best, however, to take your time as you need. If you need help, please let the flight staff know. If you need help after you get off the plane, let the gate agents know. I know for me, being able to walk to where I need to be after the flight helps get everything moving again. Wearing good shoes helps, too. But overall, planning ahead and knowing what you need will help you out when flying.
As for driving, a lot of these same rules apply. You want comfort, you want to plan ahead. But with driving, I can plan more time to stop and move around if I need it. Let me interject quickly, if you are the passenger and not the driver, let your driving travel partner know what you need. If you need to stop and walk around, tell them. If you need to lie back and rest, tell them. If you need to sit in the front for reclining and legroom, tell them. If they play some terrible music, just change it. Nobody has time for that sort of negativity. But back to me driving, which I am usually doing on these road trips. It’s funny that I’m writing this blog today because I saw a post on my Facebook memory about having to stop to buy a wrist brace on this date. I was headed down to the beach and I had to find a drugstore to get a brace because my hand and wrist were hurting so badly. I believe I had to get an ankle brace as well. Be aware of the pain you experience. Either stop and take some time, get a brace or other aid, take something for it, or have someone else take over if that’s an option.
I do enjoy traveling. I enjoy flying. I even enjoying putting on some (good) music and driving. But when you have arthritis, it’s important that you take care of yourself and plan ahead to help ensure a more comfortable travel experience. Now, go out and enjoy this world.
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