older couple at an airport traveling together

Tips for Traveling with Chronic Pain

Traveling can be stressful under any circumstances. But if you suffer from chronic pain, navigating any sort of travel can be even more challenging. Fortunately, a bit of advance planning can make your trip as pain-free as possible. Here are a few tips to consider as you prepare for your getaway.

How to Alleviate Chronic Pain While Traveling

1. Book Your Flight Early

Aim to book your flight as soon as you confirm your travel dates. This will give you the best selection for seats, hopefully allowing you to choose a spot with extra legroom. Ideally, you’ll also want to be closer to the front so you won’t have to walk as far as you board and exit the plane.

2. Call Your Airline Directly

Travelers with disabilities have certain rights, which include guided assistance while boarding and loading luggage, assistive devices, and help while deplaning. If you believe you could benefit from any assistance, call the airline 72 hours ahead of your flight to request special arrangements.

3. Pack Strategically

Heavy luggage can be extra cumbersome if you have joint pain or muscle aches. If possible, pack light and plan to do laundry at your destination. Use luggage with wheels for most of your belongings, but separate your medications and bring them in a carry-on. That way, even if your luggage should go missing, you’ll never be without your pain prescriptions.

4. Dress for Comfort

When you’ll be on the move for long stretches and using public restrooms, having comfortable clothing that’s easy to get on and off can be helpful. Casual clothing may work best for people with chronic pain, such as athletic wear, as restrictive clothing can intensify discomfort. Adaptive clothing with magnets or Velcro closures instead of zippers can also be helpful.

5. Arrive Early

Give yourself ample time at the airport so you can move at a pace that’s comfortable for you. This will make you less likely to feel the stress of rushing to make your flight — which is important as stress can worsen chronic pain. The rule of thumb is to arrive at the airport two hours before your domestic flight, and three hours prior to international travel, but feel free to pad this even more, especially on a busy travel day.

6. Check Your Luggage

Alleviate the burden of maneuvering heavy luggage throughout the airport, security checkpoints, and the plane itself. While most airlines do have a fee for checking luggage, getting to your gate with a much lighter load may be worth the cost. Frequent travelers may also want to look into credit cards with airline perks, as some memberships offer complimentary checked bags.

7. Take Frequent Stretch Breaks

Long periods of sitting can worsen pain and may even contribute to pain-related conditions such as sciatica. Moving your body even in small doses can help prevent muscle and joint stiffness. Move about the cabin when you’re allowed, and do seated stretches when not.

Don’t let pain stop you from seeing loved ones or exploring new destinations. Allow Alliance Spine and Pain Centers to provide an effective pain management plan that helps you feel your best. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call (770) 929-9033 or send us a message online.