The world is too big to be left unexplored. Whether you're hoping to go on safari to Africa or getting together with your family for holidays, there are big parts of your life you do not want to miss for any reason, let alone your arthritis. 

If you have arthritis, however, getting to those destinations can be a pain. Here are some easy tips on making your holiday travel as painless as possible:

Before You Go

Packing properly for your trip is always important, whether it's sunscreen for sunny climates or a parka for northern destinations.

But living with rheumatoid arthritis takes a little more preparation than normal, so here are a few things you'll most likely want to bring with you:

  • Medication: Always bring more than you think you'll need to account for any unforeseen circumstances, such as layovers or delays.
  • Assistance devices: This includes canes, walkers, heating pads, extra pillows, or whatever else might make the journey more comfortable.
  • Necessary information: This could include who to contact in case of an emergency, or your doctor's phone number should you need advice on your trip.

By Plane

If there's anything synonymous with holiday travel, it's congestion. The roads to the airport are packed. The lines to the ticket counter are long. The line at security is long. All flights are booked solid. It's an unfortunately messy means to an end, and adding in arthritis pain only makes it more frustrating.

To avoid arthritis inflammation, try these tips:

  • Book smart: If you can, choose a flight that's less likely to be fully-booked (like mid-week), and travels non-stop to prevent unnecessary re-boarding. Also, book a seat with extra leg room if you can.
  • Keep moving: Standing in line or sitting in a small airplane seat can only make arthritis pain worse. Take whatever opportunity you can find to move your joints, whether it be bending your knees in line or getting up and walking around onboard the plane.
  • Request assistance: If pain is getting the best of you, take advantage of wheelchairs or motorized escorts through the airport. Remember that you want to save your energy for your destination and not waste it all getting there.
  • Stay hydrated: No matter where you're traveling, make sure to drink plenty of water. Getting plenty of fluid helps keep inflammation away.
  • Avoid alcohol: While a glass of wine might help the flight go by quicker, alcohol (and caffeine) can aggravate inflammation. Ask for cranberry juice when the drink cart comes by—it helps ease inflammation.
  • Get more leg room: Ask a flight attendant if there's an available seat with more available leg room. You never know when you'll find another passenger in the holiday spirit to give up his or her seat.

By Train (or Bus)

Traveling by rail offers more opportunities to be active to prevent stiffness than air travel. Unlike airplanes, there are more options for where you can sit. When booking your ticket, find out if there are seats available that are easier to access or are designed for people with limitations.

As you board, ask the staff where key facilities are located, especially the nearest restroom. As with an airplane, inform staff members if you may need extra assistance.

By Automobile

Unlike other forms of travel, driving—whether you're behind the wheel or just riding—offers the greatest amount of freedom. Traveling by car offers you one big advantage: you're on your own schedule.

Leaving early for your destination gives you more time to get out of the car more often to stretch and move around. Take advantage of rest stops and roadside attractions.

Not only is the world's largest ball of yarn a great photo opportunity, but it's a great chance to walk around and get your joints moving.

When You Arrive

If you're staying with loved ones, make sure to tell them when and if you'll need help. This includes sleeping accommodations on the first floor to avoid stairs, a chair that requires little effort to stand from, and anything else that can make your stay easier.

  • If you're staying in a hotel, check out a few things before making a reservation:
  • If ground-level rooms are available.
  • If the bathtubs and toilets have handrails next to them.
  • If there are heated pools available for relaxation.
  • If they provide shuttles to and from the airport.
  • If the doors have levers instead of knobs.

Follow these tips to help keep your holiday travel in line with the holiday spirit.