Flying or Driving with Chronic Conditions
McSorley said some chronic conditions could place individuals at higher risk during air travel, including heart or lung disease and blood clotting disorders.
“These conditions can increase the risk of developing blood clots or experiencing difficulty breathing at high altitudes, McSorley said. “To alleviate these risks, travelers can take measures such as wearing compression stockings, staying hydrated, and moving around periodically during the flight. It may also be helpful to consult with a doctor before traveling to discuss any special precautions or accommodations needed.”
Kasparian emphasized the importance of choosing a destination based on your health and associated travel risks while considering travel advisories.
“Make sure you would have access to healthcare or to a pharmacy at the destination (and that you would be able to communicate, an official doctor’s note could help) and that you have access to your coping mechanisms to alleviate some of your pain or flared symptoms,” Kasparian said. “Make sure any medication you travel with is packed with you in your carry-on baggage and not checked in on the flight. Also, make sure to have a list of your allergies and emergency contacts in your wallet.”
Wearing comfortable clothes and choosing a seat that maximizes your ease is highly important when flying, Kasparian advised.
“Know what postures trigger your pain and try your best to avoid them by standing up to do some exercises in the back of the plane,” Kasparian said. “Mention to flight attendants that you have a health condition and that you sometimes might need to stand or stretch, etc. Speak to your doctor to see if there is any medication or relaxant to facilitate your flight and its effect on your body.”
“Someone experiencing chronic pain can fly more comfortably by bringing along supportive cushions or pillows,” McSorley added.
McSorley said that much of the same advice also applies to car travel.
“Take breaks every hour or so to stretch and move around, bring along supportive cushions or pillows, and consider using assistive devices such as a back brace or lumbar support,” McSorley said.
Kasparian pointed out additional tips for traveling by car while living with a chronic illness, condition or pain.
“Plan breaks to stretch, hydrate, go to the bathroom and make sure to eat well (and slowly) so as to keep your nervous system in check to avoid flares,” Kasparian said. “Do not rush! Pacing yourself is key.”
Lastly, both our experts recommend looking at travel insurance policies.
“You never know when you may need it,” Kasparian said. “Depending on the destination, hospital visits and medication can get pricey. It’s extra peace of mind, which is always a win in my books!”