Your guide to traveling with lupus
Make a medication plan
Before it’s time to pack your bags, make sure you have more than enough medication to last the entire trip. You’ll also want an additional supply of any medication you take to manage flares, just in case something triggers your lupus while you are far from home.
Make sure you know the name and dosage of each prescription and carry copies of paperwork with your medication details. When you’re traveling, it is easy to forget to take your medication—you may want to use your phone to set medication reminders throughout your trip (just don’t forget to adjust for time zones).
Make sure your traveling companions "get it"
It’s best to be open with your friends or family in advance about what you may/may not be able to do. Make sure they know when you feel like you need to take a break—and what can happen if you don’t stop when you need to—so they understand how important rest is to managing your illness.
Know how much you will need to walk
Travel often involves a lot more walking and standing than you may be used to, and for someone with lupus this can be exhausting. As you plan your trip, you may want to talk to your doctor to make sure you are healthy enough to do all the activities you are planning to do.
Use sun protection at all times—even when you think you won’t need it
Many people with lupus have photosensitivity—which can cause rashes, fatigue, and other symptoms—when they are exposed to radiation from sunlight. If you’re going to spend much time outside during your travels, make sure you apply (and reapply) sunscreen, wear a hat with a large brim, and stay in the shade as much as possible. If your group is planning to lounge out at the pool or beach for a long time, you may want to take a separate room key so you can duck back inside early.
Prepare for long-distance travel
Long periods of time spent sitting can be difficult if you experience joint or muscle pain. Some people with lupus are also at higher risk for developing blood clots when they sit too long. Try to stop for stretch breaks every hour during long drives and stand up and move around regularly during long flights.
Though mandates and restrictions continue to change, the American College of Rheumatology and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that immunocompromised people, which can include those who have lupus, continue to wear a mask in public spaces to reduce the chance of getting sick.
Before traveling, people with lupus should use the CDC's exposure level tool to be aware the area's potential risk. Other ways to reduce your risk of getting sick is to wash your hands often and clean your airline seat and tray with disinfectant wipes.
Take a rest when you need to
When you travel, make sure you strike the right balance between adventure and caution—don’t let lupus prevent you from having new experiences that you are healthy enough to enjoy, but also be careful not to compromise your health. There may be times during your trip when you need to sit out to give your body a break, but remember that resting when you need it will give you more energy for other activities later.
Our health educators are available to answer your questions and give you the help you need.Contact a Health Education Specialist