We understand the stress and physical toll traveling can take, especially with active lupus; however, we also know what joy exploring different destinations, cultures, and experiences can bring.
Now the world is opening up again from COVID here is our survival guide:
Before You Travel:
If you will be traveling for an extended period of time, you may need to refill your prescriptions ahead of schedule.
Regarding packing your medications, make sure to have them stored securely in a pill box that you are able to keep in a briefcase, purse or carry on. Never put your medications in a checked bag. Reason being, if your checked luggage gets delayed or lost, you won’t be in a major medical bind.
Write out on a card your in-case-of-an-emergency person, doctor(s) names and phone numbers, allergies, major health concerns, and medications (and dosing) you take. Keep it in a briefcase, purse or carry on. This is a precautionary tool in case you needed medical assistance and could not communicate or remember your medication schedule. If you have an allergy or medical condition, consider wearing a medical alert bracelet.
Ask your doctor if you are ready for a flu shot or need any vaccines before traveling. If you haven’t received your COVID-19 vaccine, it is highly recommended to do so.
Immune Boosting Supplements:
Most people take immune boosting supplements before traveling. However, you need to be careful about taking anything that speeds up your immune system. Talk to your doctor about safe alternatives like vitamin D and zinc.
Research the area:
Before you leave on your trip, research what the nearest hospitals are to where you are staying.
Walking through the hallways of an airport can be difficult if you have lupus related joint issues. Why not opt for travel assistance where you can receive a complimentary wheelchair. You can even talk to the airline attendant about boarding early.
Aisle seats are nice because they have more leg room, and it gives you the advantage of being able to get up more without feeling like you are inconveniencing the person next to you. Lastly, traveling with antibacterial wipes is a must. Always wipe down your tray table, arm rests and seat on an airplane.
When In The Air:
When you are on the plane, try and get up at least once when the seatbelt sign is off. Going to the restroom is a great way to stretch your legs, do a small back bend or twist, some wrist and shoulder circles and stretch your neck. For those who suffer from nose sores, ask your doctor if Vaseline is safe to use on the flight to prevent your nose from getting irritated from the dry recycled air. Also, ask the flight attendant for extra water. Keeping hydrated is important.
It is estimated that two-thirds of people with lupus have increased sensitivity to ultraviolet rays, either from sunlight or from artificial light. Each person with photosensitivity is different and the symptoms that present can be different too.
Protecting yourself from the sun can help prevent lupus flares, so it is important to use a broad spectrum SPF and wear sun protective clothing. Most doctors would recommend using at least an SPF of 70 or above that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.
It is essential to apply a generous layer of sunscreen every 60 minutes, especially if you are in and out of water.
You are probably already aware of what foods make you feel unwell by now. It is important to stay away from lupus flare trigger foods and be proactive about avoiding food allergies. If traveling to a different country, learn how to say “shellfish” or “egg” or whatever your allergy may be in that language. When in doubt, "NO" is a pretty universally understood word.
In general, you should try to eat a nutritious, well-balanced, and varied diet that contains plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and moderate amounts of meats, poultry, and fish - even on vacation.
This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.