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Long haul flying with arthritis.

StarburstStarburst Posts: 2,546
edited 20. Aug 2015, 04:13 in Living with Arthritis archive
As I slowly recover from my unidentified infection, I have distracted myself by thinking about my exciting 2016 holiday. My best friend and I are planning a road trip, starting in San Francisco and ending up in LA. This will be my biggest holiday ever and I'm doing it with arthritis, as sadly I have not yet found a way to leave it behind.

My main worry is the flight. The longest flight I've done is 5.5 hours and London to San Francisco is nearly double that. I know I will need a wheelchair as I step/hobble off the plane and I wear flight stockings but if anyone else has any tips, I'd be grateful. As we'll be doing a lot of driving, I may get stiff in the car too. I know I'll need to carefully balance moving enough but not too much. This is obviously going to be quite a costly adventure and I want to ensure that I plan enough to I get the most out of it.

Thanks in advance.


  • dibdabdibdab Posts: 1,498
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    What exciting plans to look forward to, it sounds to me like you're already thinking about how to get the most out of it.

    In February I was lucky enough to go to New Zealand to visit my son......a 34 hour journey changing planes in Dubai and Sydney....and got lots of good advice from folks on here. Asking for assistance at the airport was a big deal for me , but made life so much easier as we didn't have to stand in queues in security, boarding etc, so I'd definitely consider contacting your airline ahead to arrange it.

    On the plane try to get a seat with extra legroom if possible, or easier access to get in and out of the seat.....I chose a window seat and then struggled to get past other passengers to get into the aisle. During the flight try to move about regularly.......even if you just take a regular bathroom break!! Try to drink plenty of water too, the cabin air is really dry and drinking alcohol compounds dehydration. I took hand wash gel to use whenever I was touching toilet door handles etc to try and avoid germs because of the immune suppression that the drugs create. I also found moisturiser and lipsalve handy, my lips got really dry.

    A friend suggested taking an extra drawstring bag within my hand luggage containing stuff I'd want on the plane such as my kindle, pain killers, wrist splints etc, I put it on the floor by my feet and it was really handy avoiding the need to stretch up and get stuff out of my hand luggage in the overhead locker.

    If you plan to take lots of medication with you, you may need to take a letter from the doctor confirming that they are prescribed for you......New Zealand are really tight on what yoy can take in, but I have no idea what USA are like.

    When we planned our holiday we sketched out the things we wanted to see and do, and tried to build in quieter days in between busy days so that I didn't get too fatigued, it worked quite well for us.

    Sorry if this is a bit of an epistle, but hope some of the suggestions help.

    Deb xxx
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,993 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    You are in for a ball. The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is terrific, especially the southern bit from Sta. Barbara onwards. The other (freeway) route is quicker but HOT. You'll have your own 'must see' bits but I can thoroughtly recommend Yosemite, the Sequoia National Park, Monterey (with Cannery Row if you've read your Steinbeck) not to mention my beloved Venice Beach. I could go on but won't. PM me if you want to know places to visit round LA as our son lives there so we go every year.

    I think Deb covered most of the plane stuff. Do get wheelchair assistance if not taking one. Mind you, I would recommend taking one. They don't seem to have them available for use in supermarkets, museums etc.

    Plane seats. Book, find out what sort of plane it is then go to www.seatguru.com . This gives a layout of the seats including better leg room and you can choose whatever suits you. In the usual 3-4-3 formation we tend to go for two in the centre block as that gets round having people clambering over you or vice versa. But some transatlantic planes have two window seats. If you can afford business class I envy you. It's heaven but we only did it once when upgraded due to the airline's delay.

    Rather than Deb's drawstring bag I just carry a big handbag which takes passport, boarding cards, meds, tablet, wipes etc. Oh and a spare pair of knickers. Much appreciated this year when we were delayed in Amsterdam and had to spend the night in Atlanta.

    Hold baggage for USA must be left unlocked and, if you've any liquids in it (eg my Gaviscon Advance) it will be opened. They're big on security.

    I take most of my meds as hand luggage just in case. We've occasionally had baggage delayed but only for about 24 hours.

    If you have a Blue Badge take it and I'll try to remember the website where you can download a bit of paper allowing you to use it.

    Tipping is usually 10% over there. And all the notes look the same.
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • bubbadogbubbadog Posts: 5,852
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    All I can offer you is make sure you have a seat with extra leg room, try and get an aisle seat so you can get up and move a round now and again, yes it can be hard because of over people standing up but you really need to do it, also try and move your legs around while sitting. I did leg circles and stomping (sitting down marching, yes it works!) and leg lifts. Whatever makes the blood move round your legs. I hope you get some idea's from my crazy plane exercises!! :cheers:
  • barbara12barbara12 Posts: 20,860
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    How brilliant , its the best meds having something to look forward to ..and boy will this be some trip..good for you..sorry I cant offer any advice but I see SW has ..you enjoy the planning.. :cheers:
  • ElgnayElgnay Posts: 5
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Sounds amazing! You're going to have such a brilliant time.

    I did an American roadtrip (around the middle bit) in March. I found the airport & security staff really helpful - I was using a crutch to get around then.

    I had my medicine in my bag along with a prescription, and had no trouble.

    As for the flight, I paid extra to book my seats in advance so could choose a 2 seater for me and my husband, so didn't have to worry about pushing past people etc... I just made sure to get up and stretch regularly. And fidgeted a lot! It wasn't comfortable but it wasn't horrific. To be honest it felt just as bad as day at work in an office.
  • dreamdaisydreamdaisy Posts: 31,567 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Go for it, Sophie! Be as prepared as possible (with sensible insurance cover) and I hope it all comes to pass. DD
    Have you got the despatches? No, I always walk like this. Eddie Braben
  • StarburstStarburst Posts: 2,546
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Thank you for the helpful tips. I will definitely use the wheelchair and the assistance. I've used both before and the difference they made meant that it was worth the brief panic about losing my independence.

    I have actually been to the USA before but many years ago, when I was well enough to pound the streets of New York for a week and young enough to use my mum's credit card for the vast amounts of money I spent. ;)
  • stickywicketstickywicket Posts: 25,993 ✭✭✭
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Don't forget the ESTA forms which now have to be approved in advance and remember you need 6 months on your passport for USA.
    “There is always a well-known solution to every human problem - neat, plausible, and wrong.” H.L. Mencken
  • NumptydumptyNumptydumpty Posts: 6,494
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    Happy planning and an even happier holiday Sophie. You have earned it :D
    Numpty x
  • As5567As5567 Posts: 665
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    The most helpful thing I find is keeping hydrated, taking some extra medications (Remember you're changing time zones so be careful you don't mix up doses) and moving around the aircraft cabin.

    I try to go for a little walk around every hour or so just to help with stiffness, I usually go and stand by the door around the toilets and have a chat with other fellow passengers who are walking around the cabin. It also helps the time pass I find.

    Will you be taking any medication with you that needs to be kept cool? If so you must have all of the original packaging or customs won't be happy. I made that mistake one in 2007 and luckily I took a photocopy of my prescription which was enough to make them happy.

    And the most important thing.....Relax and enjoy every second!
  • SaabinaSaabina Posts: 17
    edited 30. Nov -1, 00:00
    I'm just back from Thailand. We spent almost 3 weeks there. My arthritis didn't bother me at all!!! Weird!

    Within 2 days of coming back everything is inflamed again and much worse.

    I did suffer on the plane on the way home with the trip from Bangkok to Abu Dhabi (6.5 hours) with sciatica however, but then managed to sleep from Abu Dhabi to Manchester.

    Enjoy it, don't worry. As long as you have health insurance , I am sure the sun will do you the world of good!
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