Air Travel Tips

My tips for traveling by plane when you have a chronic pain condition

Since I’ve been traveling more by aeroplane I thought I'd like to share some of my ideas for traveling when you have a chronic illness such as Fibromyalgia.  Traveling is an extra stress on the body for most people but especially those with a chronic illness who feel that stress reverberating in their body for days after in a variety of ways. 

Getting ready for take off

My travel preparations start long before the day of travel and this ensures that I feel more organized and have everything I might need to add comfort to my flight.

The most important thing for me is making sure all my medicines are packed. So I check my prescriptions and purchase any I need before I leave. I also make sure I have enough of those medicines to take every day of the trip and then some extra ones. This is because of the time we were trapped in Fiji after a tsunami and could not fly home. Some of my medications are essential and not having them can put me into hospital in a foreign country which is usually costly, let alone scary due to the language barrier and different standards of health care.

The next most important thing for me is to have an aisle seat so now I overcome my frugal nature and book and pay for an aisle seat in advance. This is an investment in my health and well being and benefits anyone else who is travelling with me because I am a much better tourist, ready to join in and participate when I arrive  at my destination when I sit in the aisle seat. After much flying I have found that this is the best seat for me. I am the person on the flight that gets up and walks a lap of the plane every hour or so. I also like to go to the back of the plane and stand and do some simple exercises during the flight. No one seems to notice much except the other person who is maybe doing the same thing at the same time! All of this movement ensures less cramps, less pain and less stiffness in the following days on arrival at my holiday.

The Importance of Hydration
On the 3 days before the flight and during the flight and after I concentrate on hydration. I find flying extremely dehydrating internally and externally and get very dry eyes, dry throat and nose and constipation. I have noticed that all of these were reduced by drinking pure water and after learning about the benefits of good mineral waters I now drink around 10 glasses of water before during and after a flight. I try not to drink coffee, tea or alcohol as they are very dehydrating to me. I only resort to alcohol if I am in extreme pain on a flight that has not been reduced by pain killers.I used to get cramps in the nights after I flew, but now find this greatly reduced.

Vitamins and minerals that generally speaking make a difference to me are magnesium and 1 basic vitamin and mineral tablet a day. Over the years I have tried many supplements and found that they have not given many any great benefits except for these 2 that I try to take regularly. I was found to be deficient in magnesium so take it regularly and this has reduced cramping and some muscle pain. If I neglect to take my basic Vitamin and mineral tablet for a few days I start to get chipped finger nails so I figure if it is helping with that it is helping with other things.

Comfort extras

I also travel with my own small pillow for comfort and extra neck and back support. Although it takes up quite a bit of carry on space it is an essential travel item for me. It allows me to get some sleep and find some vaguely comfortable positions. It is light and squishy. 

I always take eye gel, hand wipes, a small packet of tissues and pain killers on the plane. I also pack medications for hayfever, constipation and diarrhea because it is so much easier having these available when you arrive than having to find them in a pharmacy. 

I have also invested, finally, in new suitcases that are the lightest I could find. Even if you are travelling with others, who will help you with your bags, there will be times that you need to lift or carry your own - even just lifting it out of the taxi or onto the conveyer belt can be stressful on muscles.I have both wheel on luggage for on the plane and in the hull now. The handles are the perfect height for me and easy to pull in and out. On short flights, or flights where I do not take much luggage, I now pay to put the luggage in the hull and walk on board with a very light bag. This is so good for reducing muscle pain and well worth the cost. 
I have at this stage never used the airport wheelchair but now understand that it is an option for anybody who feels they cannot walk up and down the stairs onto the plane.

I hope these tips for flying help you and would love to hear any extra tips you have or your experiences when traveling with chronic pain here in the comments.  


  1. In the months ahead, I'm planning on doing a lot more travel by air. Thank you for these expert tips.

    1. Glad to be of help Katie and happy flying. We are off to
      Vietnam for the first time in the new year. how about you? Where is on your travel wish list?


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