Whether you're looking to relax, see some sights, visit relatives, or take care of business, prepare in advance to help ensure a carefree trip. Here are 12 tips that will keep you moving.

1. When planning your itinerary, schedule in plenty of rest time, including frequent stops for a quick stretch while traveling. Schedule events so that you have enough time to get going in the mornings. It's important to plan ahead. Don't wait until you're already in pain to take a break.

2. When booking a hotel, ask for an accessible room. This usually means an unenclosed shower with grab bars and a slightly higher toilet seat in the bathroom, and other easily accessible fixtures. Get written confirmation on the room before you arrive at the hotel.

3. If you're traveling by car, consider a seat cover made from wooden beads. Long a favorite of New York City cabbies, wooden seat covers help you slide in and out of the car more easily and many claim they make sitting for long periods a lot more comfortable.

4. If you're driving, research your options for modifying your car to accommodate any limitation you have. If you are renting a car, be sure to familiarize yourself with the specific make and model before you get in and drive. "Most car seats nowadays are very adjustable, so make sure the seat is in the right position before you get started," recommends rheumatologist Nathan Wei, MD, director of the Arthritis Treatment Center in Frederick, Maryland. The beauty of car travel is you can go at your own pace and make frequent stops to rest and stretch your legs. If you're staying overnight on the road, ask the hotel to provide a pass so you can park close to the entrance. The Society for Accessible Travel and Hospitality has many additional travel and accommodation tips for people with limited mobility.

5. Try to book direct flights, and make arrangements with your airline for curbside-to-gate wheelchair or motorized cart service, if necessary. Book an aisle or bulkhead seat for extra room and comfort, and make sure your seat is close enough to the bathroom that you don't have far to walk but far enough away that, if a line forms, you don't have passengers bumping into you.

6. When you get to the airport gate, tell the agents you'd like to pre-board so you have extra time and space to get on the plane and get settled into your seat.

7. Travel with rolling luggage and pack light. For sightseeing and day trips, use a waist pack or "fanny pack" and carry only what you need.

8. Wear comfortable, supportive shoes, and consider products like neck pillows, seat cushions, and hot and cold packs, that will help make sitting and sleeping while traveling more comfortable.

9. Keep up your routine. While you are traveling, continue doing whatever you do at home to help alleviate arthritis pain and maintain joint function-diet, exercise, medication, bracing, or other supportive equipment.

10. "If you use injectable medication, get a note from your doctor so you're not hassled by TSA," suggests Wei. "And never check your medications; always carry them on board with you." Be sure to bring along prescriptions too just in case meds get lost and be sure to bring a few extra pills to cover spills and unexpected delays.

11. If you can't follow your normal exercise routine while traveling but you can swim, consider booking hotels and motels with pools. And don't forget to pack a bathing suit.

12. If you are traveling overseas, check to see if your health insurance covers you in other countries. Many do not, and if that's the case, purchase travel health insurance through your own or other insurance provider, or through a travel agent or tour operator.

Nathan Wei, MD, FACP, FACR reviewed this article.


Arthritis Foundation. http://www.arthritis.org

The University of Washington. Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. "Travel and Arthritis," Web. Accessed 23 January 2014.www.orthop.washington.edu/?q=patient-care/articles/arthritis/travel-and-arthritis.html