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I’m a married 31 year-old who has been diagnosed with fibromylagia for 12 years. I am on a quest to raise awareness and help others by sharing information and staying positive. Read more
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Tips & Tools for Traveling via Airplane – Part I

Since I’ve just gotten back from Switzerland, I thought it’d be a good idea to write a post with some of my tips for traveling via airplane. Traveling is rough on anybody, but especially those with fibromyalgia. My travel preparations start long before the day I travel.

I would say the most important thing for me is re-stocking my purse pill box and making sure all my worse-case scenario medicines are packed. I also make sure I have enough of those medicines to take every day of the trip, just in case. This often means refilling prescriptions before my trip. I never want to be somewhere in pain, panicking trying to get a prescription sent somewhere. One of the other more important items for me is to make sure that I have an aisle seat. I did not used to push for this, but after trial and error I found that I am in much less pain during and after flying when I can move one of my legs around and have ample room to stretch my arms, shoulders and back out.

I noticed that I used to get leg cramps the night after I flew, almost regularly. Now I take extra care to make sure I’m staying more than amply hydrated the few days before I fly and upon arriving at my destination. While on the flight I stay away from caffeinated and carbonated beverages. After I’ve gone through security I always try to buy a bottle of water to take with me. This makes drinking water easier and more frequent than waiting for the beverage service to come around.

Years ago I always used the free airline pillows and blankets to put behind my back to give it added support. When the airlines stopped supplying them I bought a lumbar support. Although it takes up quite a bit of space in my carry-on it is an essential travel item for me. After I started using this I went from having to take a pain killer every time I flew more than a few hours, to only needing one ~50% of the time.

Luggage can really weigh (literally) on you! I highly recommend getting a suitcase with 4, 360 degree spinning wheels on it. The ease of moving the luggage around is greatly increased. Many times I have used the extended handle of my luggage to lean on and use it somewhat like a cane. Luggage can also be used as a seat when propped against a wall, just sit on the top end. I also recommend having a wheeled, under-the-seat, carry-on. Although they take up a little more space and are heavier to carry by hand, the ease of having the wheels before and after you are on the plane is worth it!

Lastly, if you are in pain, use an airport wheelchair! I will be writing another entry about my Switzerland trip that is a great example of this. For more tips, read Tips & Tools for Traveling via Airplane – Part II.

This post was included in Chronic Babe Blog Carnival #24: Great Workarounds.

Lumbar support, water & pill box

My lumbar support, bottle of water & pill box


Comment from Cranky Fibro Girl
Time July 26, 2010 at 10:34 am

Do you ever have trouble with all the changes in pressure? I have flare-ups just with the changes in pressure that come with the weather. I’ve been afraid to fly because I thought that might be even worse on an airplane?


Felicia Fibro Reply:

I too experience headaches and body aches and pains with atmospheric changes. Those tend to be more noticeable to me than any pains that come with flying. My flying pain is usually worse on the return flight, after I’ve been staying at a place that isn’t home – different bed, diet, sleeping patterns, exercise, etc… For me this pain is usually in my back.

The most noticeable atmospheric changes I’ve felt were when I was in Switzerland up in the mountains. To find about more about that experience, check out the entry prior to this one.


Comment from Selena
Time March 7, 2011 at 5:10 am

This is great advice. I learned the hard way about using the wheelchair in the airport. Never again will I try to “tough it out” and forgo it.
Selena recently posted: Could It Be True A Blood Test to Diagnose Fibromyalgia


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Thanks for sharing your decision to use wheelchair, Selena. It can be a tough decision to make, especially that first time! I think it helps to hear about other people with fibromyalgia using them with success.


Comment from Kathy @ FibroDAZE
Time March 7, 2011 at 11:00 am

Good tips. How do you deal with the long travel days and increased fatigue?


Felicia Fibro Reply:

Great question, Kathy! Although I mostly buy airline tickets based on price, I pay a lot of attention to the travel times. Since I have to leave my house ~3 hours before my flight time I try not to book a flight that is TOO early in the morning. If a ticket is only $10-20 more in the late morning/early afternoon I go for it! Traveling with a companion also makes much things easier. Typically, travel days are just that for me – I plan only to travel, get easy (and as healthy as possible) food and have down time the rest of that day. The night before I travel I try to get as much sleep as possible and when I’m at my destination I don’t hesitate to use a sleeping aid to assure I get more restorative sleep than normal.


Comment from Jennifer
Time June 28, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Thank you for this post, Felicia. I have Ankylosing Spondylitis and my doctor thinks probably also Fibromyalgia. Posts like this that really break down tips and tricks are very helpful.
Jennifer recently posted: Finding the Balance with Chronic Disease


Felicia Fibro Reply:

I’m so glad that you found my tips and tools helpful, Jennifer! Good luck with your further exploration into a possible fibromyalgia diagnosis.


Comment from Heather
Time December 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Your tips are wonderful! Thank you.
I don’t fly often, but had to make a bereavement flight this year. I remembered (miraculously) to wear compression socks, which are very thin, and accessible now. It made a huge difference, along with hydration, in my leg pain after flying. Also, I did some basic ankle rolls throughout my 2 longer flights, to keep my circulation going.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

I’ve been using compression calf sleeves my last few flights and although they don’t completely stop the swelling, it greatly reduces it and helps it go away sooner. I am going to write about compression sleeves/socks in my next air travel post! Glad to hear they’re helping you too!


Comment from Maggie
Time March 14, 2012 at 8:58 am

One thing that has really helped me is remembering to pack my own snacks. Since even before my diagnosis of fibromyalgia, I knew that gluten, corn, and dairy aggrevated my pain. Not knowing what kind of food is available at the other end, I Iearned to bring kind bars and fruit to keep me going.


Felicia Fibro Reply:

I agree snacks are important and I always pack quite a few soy free, zing bars in my suitcase for times I’m stuck without other options.


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