Skip to main content

Traveling with Arthritis

Minor Arthritis & Joint Pain

older woman travelling , relax

Choosing accommodations

When selecting a place to stay, keep in mind that some hotels are more accommodating than others to people with arthritis. Ask whether the following services are available and book a hotel that best matches your needs:

  • Transportation to and from the airport or bus/train station
  • Telephones placed near the bed and in the bathroom
  • Heated pools for exercise and relaxation
  • Handrails beside the toilet and tub
  • Levers instead of round knobs on doors, faucets and shower/tub controls
  • Room service and laundry service
  • Ramps rather than steps

Air travel

Air travel may present some special difficulties for individuals with arthritis. But most problems can be easily minimized by following these tips:

  • Select a flight that is typically not crowded, such as during nonpeak hours.
  • Book a nonstop flight, especially if you wish to avoid walking long distances between departure gates or traveling for longer than necessary.
  • Print your boarding pass in advance.
  • If you need special assistance, arrive at least an hour before check-in.
  • If possible, check your bags at the curb.
  • If you must transfer planes, give yourself plenty of time between flights.
  • Request a wheelchair or motorized cart to transport you between gates and the baggage claim area or to outside transportation.
  • On the plane, ask for help in putting your carry-on bag in the overhead compartment. This will leave more room to stretch your legs.
  • Walk down the aisle whenever possible to reduce stiffness in knees, hips and back during a long flight.

Exercises for traveling

Just because you are taking a vacation doesn't mean your exercise routine need suffer. Stretching exercises can be done in the comfort of your hotel room. And some can even be done in transit. To help keep joints strong and flexible, follow the guidelines below:

  • When seated, press your legs together to strengthen the muscles that help support the back and legs. Hold for six seconds. Relax and repeat. Gradually increase to five, 10 and then 20 repetitions. Repeat twice daily.
  • Sit in a chair and support your foot on a table or chair of comfortable height. Straighten your leg and pull your toes toward you, stretching the back of your leg. Hold for six seconds, relax and repeat up to 12 times. To keep knees flexible, repeat this exercise two to three times a day.
  • For flexible ankles and feet, sit in a chair with feet flat on the floor. Raise your toes as high as you can while keeping your heels on the floor. Then raise your heels as high as you can while keeping your toes on the floor. Rotate your ankles in a circle, curling the toes up and down and around in a circular motion.
  • Even before getting out of bed, limber up for the day by bending each knee to the chest, one at a time. Repeat, alternating knees. Gradually increase until you can do five to 10 repetitions. Pull both knees to your chest at the same time and hold for six seconds. Repeat, increasing to five to 10 repetitions.
  • Lie on your back and move your feet and legs in the air as if you were riding a bicycle while counting to six. Relax and repeat. Gradually increase to five and then to 10 repetitions once or twice daily.
  • To stretch your hip, lie on your stomach on the bed or floor. Raise your thigh straight up behind you, keeping your knee straight. Lift the other thigh and hold for six seconds. Repeat. Gradually increase to five and then to 10 repetitions.

Arthritis is a common affliction that can occur in people of almost any age. The pain it inflicts can limit daily, routine activities, and there is no cure. However, you can combat the debilitating effects of arthritis and not allow it to control your life.