RA and the holiday journey

I love to travel, ever since I was a child and after being diagnosed with RA, I didn’t dare give up my determination for travelling. In fact, it had a reverse effect on me; my appetite to travel only grew bigger.

This was my first overseas trip with RA and yes it was definitely a challenge. The trip duration was a total of 18 days flying from Sydney Australia to New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles with bus trips in between to Washington DC and the Grand Canyon.

Of course being a newbie to RA I wasn’t sure how this holiday was going to work out so first thing was consulting my rheumatologist of the plan and gaining their advice as to how to go around this.
After making the decision to go ahead on the trip there was a lot of pre-planning and considerations involved. Some of the points I advise today maybe the obvious but it’s always good to hear of others experiences.

When I booked the flights it was important that my seat was an aisle seat this way I could stretch and be able to get up and move my body around. After I had the flights booked one of the most important actions of all was to take out travel insurance, doesn’t matter where I travel I usually have insurance for “just in case purposes” however this time around it wasn’t an option it was a must.

Then there was another visit to the rheumatologist to go through my list of medications and quantities, I needed to make sure I had the right amount of medication with me, there is nothing worse than falling short on your trip. I also needed a letter from my doctor stating the medication I have on board with me is required due to a medical condition.

I have RA in both knees, shoulders and elbows because I knew there was going to be a lot of walking I invested in supportive devises and bought two knee braces and boy did they come in handy and got worn out.

Luggage, travel as light as you can, I checked with the airline company if I could split the weight of one bag to two this way the lifting is minimized. In saying that one mistake I made was I bought a cabin size shoulder sports bag (because it looked cool) to travel with when clearly I should have taken a cabin sized suitcase with wheels so it would be easier to carry during our transits.

Then there is the company you travel with. I took this fantastic holiday with my best friend Jess as she understands the condition, is very patient and supportive. The reason why I say the company is important is because you don’t want to have the guilt of holding back others in your group on missing out on opportunities or site visits because you can’t keep up with them. It is important you have someone that can come down to your level but at the same time be happy and comfortable doing it that way.

As Jess and I arrived at each of our destinations we sat down made a list of places we wanted to do and see and mapped out their locations. We didn’t allocate particular days as to what we were going to do until the day before, we based our days on this to see how I felt at the end of each day if I was exhausted or if my inflammation was flared up. For example, the day we decided to walk from Soho to the Financial District in NY was a big day, by the end of that evening my ankles had swelled up, so we knew the activities we wanted to do the next day would need to be light. Our worst case scenario was if we needed to go out a little further and I couldn’t walk the distance we would have to jump in a cab, however when it came down to that scenario I wouldn’t hesitate about it.

At the end of our trip we achieved everything we wanted to do and more and we hit our goals with no complications! Take that punch in the face RA another tick of my list of things that I can still do with you hanging over me. Boo ya!

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