Whether you’re planning your dream vacation or just a quick trip to visit family, a few smart changes and careful planning can make traveling with psoriatic arthritis an easier (and memorable) experience.

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis can include fatigue, swelling, stiffness, and reduced range of motion, particularly in joints. That’s why traveling with these areas in mind matters for those with a PsA diagnosis.

To make the most of your travels, consider this simple checklist as you plan your upcoming adventures.

While you might want to hit every Insta-worthy photo op available, it’s important to make time for a little R&R during your travels. (After all, what is a vacation without a good nap?)

Since active days may cause symptoms of psoriatic arthritis to flare up, scheduling a period of downtime each day (or a day of rest in between active days) can help keep any pain or stiffness manageable.

This can also give symptoms time to subside before your next planned activity. Consider also scheduling a rest day for when you get home, before returning to work or regular activities.

  • Active days may cause symptom flares.
  • Dedicated rest periods can help relieve pain and stiffness.
  • Allow for longer rest periods during or after particularly active days.

Overworking your joints can quickly make symptoms of psoriatic arthritis flare up. That’s why it’s important to double-check that any scheduled stops and accommodations are accessible.

Ask for an ADA accessible hotel room that’s near the elevator or on a lower floor. When booking stops or tours, it’s also a good idea to find out how much walking or stair-climbing these activities involve. If they’re physically demanding, see if there’s an alternative activity or path.

Also consider whether you may need mobility aids during travel or at your destination. Contact the airline or airport if you may need assistance changing planes during layovers. You can also contact your hotel or a rental company at your destination to check availability and pricing for renting scooters, wheelchairs, or other mobility aids.

  • Ask for an ADA accessible hotel room.
  • Plan ahead for walking or stair-climbing.
  • Consider using mobility aids or assistance.

The golden rule of traveling is to always pack your medication in a carry-on bag.

This not only makes your medication accessible in case you need it while traveling, such as on a plane or train, but also guarantees nothing will happen to it if your packed luggage accidentally gets lost.

Regardless of how long your trip is, it’s always a good idea to pack more than enough medication just in case your travels are delayed or canceled.

  • Packing meds in a carry-on bag makes them accessible while you’re in transit.
  • Keeping medication on you guarantees nothing will happen to it.
  • Pack more meds than you’ll need for the trip in case of delays.

Be honest: Are you really going to wear all those outfits? Packing light can reduce stress on your hands, shoulders, feet, and more.

Try to keep your luggage under 25 pounds and look for items that can easily be washed or reworn, so you can bring fewer clothes, shoes, and accessories. These can quickly add up and make luggage much heavier.

  • Pack light to keep stress off your hands, shoulders, feet, and more.
  • Try to keep your luggage under 25 pounds.
  • Consider packing clothes that can be washed or reworn.

Though hand luggage or over-the-shoulder bags may be tempting, packing in a wheeled suitcase can make traveling with psoriatic arthritis much easier.

Pushing the suitcase rather than pulling with both hands can also take care of additional pressure on your hands and shoulders. Consider looking for a four-wheeled suitcase with extendable handles that can rotate 360 degrees.

  • Consider using a wheeled suitcase for easier travel.
  • Pushing instead of pulling can take stress off your joints.
  • Look for an easy-to-maneuver option.

When choosing shoes for arthritic feet in particular, look for a good pair of running or walking shoes that have a loose (yet comfortable) fit and don’t have high heels.

Shoes with padded footbeds are also a good idea to keep pain and swelling at bay. Travels can run long, so it’s important to be comfortable whether you’re traveling by train, plane, car, or bus.

You may also want to consider compression socks or stockings to help ease any discomfort.

  • Wear a good pair of running or walking shoes.
  • Avoid wearing high heels or heavy shoes while traveling.
  • Shoes with padded footbeds can help with pain and swelling.

Long periods of sitting can increase pain and stiffness from psoriatic arthritis. Getting up and walking, especially while traveling on a plane or on a long ride, can help ease those symptoms.

Try to make it a point to walk up and down the aisles or schedule a pit stop at least once an hour or so. If walking isn’t feasible, you can also stretch to help relieve any stiffness that accumulates while you’re sitting.

  • Long periods of sitting can increase pain and stiffness.
  • Walking every hour or so can ease any symptoms.
  • Consider a few minutes of stretching if walking isn’t an option.

One of the best parts of traveling is experiencing new dishes or cuisines you may not have at home. When making food selections, try to look for meals that are nutrient-dense.

Eating foods high in omega-3s, as well as plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, can help decrease inflammation.

  • Consider eating whole foods that are nutrient-dense.
  • Foods high in omega-3s can help decrease inflammation.
  • Whole grains, fruits, and vegetables are always good options.

Icing and heating can help relieve various symptoms of psoriatic arthritis. Ice can reduce swelling, and heat can relieve stiffness.

Look for hotels or accommodations with an ice bucket that you can keep full or a mini fridge where you can store cooling or ice packs.

It’s also a good idea to keep heat packs on hand, but taking a hot bath or shower can also reduce stiffness.

  • Icing and/or heating can help relieve various symptoms while traveling.
  • Pack cooling or heating packs if possible.
  • Use hotel ice or the shower in a pinch.

Remember that some of the best memories result from the less-than-perfect moments. If you have to skip out on a planned activity or you start feeling limited by a flare, remember that nobody ever has a completely perfect vacay.

Treat yourself gently if things don’t go as planned. If you can’t make it on the walking tour, consider a day spent lounging by the pool. If the pain keeps you in bed, treat yourself to room service or order in a pizza.

Planning ahead can help you be prepared for issues that may come up, but in the end it’s really a matter of keeping an open mind and adapting to whatever happens along the way.