Travelling safely when suffering from gout.

Even if you have gout, you can still go out and travel. However, some extra precautions need to be made to ensure that you don’t encounter a sudden flare. Nothing ruins a vacation faster than being on a wheelchair on the way home. Here are some tips to help you deal with gout while traveling:

1. Book a business class seat

If you can, opt for a business class seat since this will give you more room to stretch your legs. You can also try to book an economy seat at the front of the cabin where there is bigger legroom.

2. Pack your medicine and prescription

You want to bring enough medicine to last you throughout the whole trip. This depends on what your doctor will prescribe you whether it’s allopurinol, colchicine, NSAIDs and painkillers. Keep them close with you at all times in case you get a gout attack out of nowhere.

Some airlines won’t allow you to bring medicine unless you have a prescription so make sure you bring one. This is also helpful in case you run out of meds. For extra measure, research your destination and find out whether their pharmacies sell the medicine that you need.

3. Pack supplements and remedies

You should also be packing supplements that help with your gout. This can include vitamin C, omega-3 and omega-6, bromelain, folic acid, turmeric, and MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) and of course NutriGout. You can also bring some quick remedies such as apple cider, cherry juice, epsom salt, and baking soda. They’re easy to pack in travel sized versions and having them around will give you some peace of mind.

4. Stay hydrated

Flying on an airplane can be dehydrating so make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the trip. Yes, that may mean more trips to the lavatory but it’s better than having an unexpected gout flare. You also want to maintain this habit throughout your trip especially if you’re in a tropical area where dehydration is most likely to occur.

Oh, and if they offer you tea or coffee on the flight, just say no. Even flight attendants swear by this. The water tanks in airplanes rarely get cleaned so you can’t really be sure if you are drinking safe water. Wine and soda are also a big no-no since they too can trigger a gout attack.

5. Get moving and keep warm

If you’re on a long flight, make sure you are taking breaks from sitting. Being immobile for long periods inside a cold cabin might trigger a gout attack, and you want to avoid that. Walk along the cabin aisle so your legs get a good stretch. If you’re between connecting flights, walk as much as you can and don’t just sit by the lounge. This is the perfect opportunity to get your blood moving and prevent uric acid from crystallizing. If you are driving, take frequent stops so you can walk and stretch your legs.

Also remember that gout attacks often happen at night when temperature is at its lowest. The same principle applies in a plane where the cabin can get cold. You want to avoid a possible flare by always keeping your feet warm and comfortable. On top of your socks, you can put on another pair to ensure your feet stay toasty. A blanket over your legs helps too.

6. Communicate with the flight attendant

If you are experiencing a gout attack, let the flight attendant know right away. They might just be able to refer you to a doctor that is on the flight. They can also offer you painkillers and water to help relieve the pain.

7. Watch your food

Just because you’re on vacation, it doesn’t mean that your diet is too. It can be tempting to feast on local food and try out new dishes. However, things can quickly go south if you are not careful. Do your research ahead of time and find out what foods are available in the place you are traveling to. If you are unsure whether a food item is safe to eat or not, better to avoid it. It’s just not worth the risk.

It also helps to find out where the nearest grocery store is. This way, you can pick up fruits and vegetables that you can eat on the go. It’s better to have options than be stuck with food outside that may not be good for you.

8. Stay active

Vacation is no excuse to skip out on your exercise routine as well. You want to stay active since inactivity can worsen your gout. You don’t need to go to a gym. A simple walk, stretch, or swim for 30 minutes a day is enough to keep those joints healthy.

9. Keep a schedule

It’s easy to break a routine when your senses are bombarded with new stuff at every corner. Schedule reminders so you are always taking your medication on time. Also, try to always get a good night’s sleep so you feel well rested and ready to take on the itinerary for the next day.

10. Plan ahead

Traveling to new places is exciting but the process of getting there can be stressful. You have to carry heavy luggage, wait in long lines, deal with delayed flights, avoid being scammed, and more. This is all one great recipe for a gout attack. To avoid getting stressed, make sure to plan ahead of time.

Know the airport luggage limits so you can pack accordingly. Have your tickets printed out so you don’t have to fiddle with your phone. You can even check-in hours before your flight. Go to the airport earlier than you usually do. Have some healthy snacks ready in case you get hungry. Figure out how to get to the hotel the most efficient way. Find out where the nearest pharmacy is. These are some things you should look ahead of time to ensure that you don’t get stressed.

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Have you ever had a gout flare while traveling? How did you deal with it? Share your stories in the comments below.

Spiro Koulouris is the author of Gout and You: The Ultimate Gout Diet and Cookbook and also writes for the leading website on gout.