Who’s ready to start traveling again? I know I am!! However, it’s important to note that those living with lymphedema do have to take some special precautions while traveling. Here are 20 travel tips to consider when traveling with lymphedema.
- When traveling by air, be sure to wear your compression garments. Decreased pressure in the airplane cabin may cause increased swelling.
- If wearing an arm sleeve, it is recommended to also wear a glove or gauntlet.
- Wear the garment before you get on the plane and leave the garment on for 1-3 hours after arriving at your destination.
- If you have lower extremity lymphedema, it would be a good idea to request a seat with more leg room such as the bulk-head. If possible you might want to travel first class.
- Take advantage of the extra leg room and move those legs, pumping your ankles up and down, or circling them to get fluid movement.
- You may want to carry a note from your physician regarding compression garments or bandages to help answer any questions at security checkpoints.
- Non-constricting, loose-fitting clothing is not only more comfortable, but it will also prevent restriction of lymph fluid flow. Avoid tight and restrictive jewelry and watches, as well.
- Stay well-hydrated throughout your flight. Ambient air in the cabin is dry and may increase dehydration.
- Avoid carrying heavy luggage and bags or using shoulder straps on the affected arm. Use luggage with wheels or ask for assistance.
- Minimize diuretics such as alcohol and beverages with caffeine in them.
- Maintain healthy eating and avoid salty foods.
- Try to move about the cabin frequently if possible to help move that lymph fluid.
- If you are unable to move about the cabin, remember that deep diaphragmatic breathing is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stimulate lymph movement.
- Consider bringing antibiotics, especially if you are prone to cellulitis or are traveling outside of the United States.
- If traveling by car or train, sitting for long periods of time may also cause swelling. Wearing compression can help lessen the risk of increased swelling.
- If traveling by car, make frequent stops to stretch and walk around.
- Also be mindful of the location you are traveling to. Mountainous areas high in elevation can cause swelling and it is recommended that you wear compression garment.
- Hot, humid conditions can cause blood vessels to dilate and move more fluid into the affected limb, as well.
- If you are headed somewhere to enjoy the great outdoors, don’t forget sunscreen and insect repellent. Sunburn and bug bites can be very dangerous for those with lymphedema.
- Wearing a lymphedema alert bracelet for upper extremity or a necklace for lower extremity is a good idea.
Being aware can prevent more serious complications in dealing with your lymphedema. Please note these 20 travel tips for lymphedema are to serve as guidelines only. It’s recommend you consult with your lymphedema therapist and/or doctor prior to travel as well.
Safe travels, my friend!