How to Manage Your Chronic Pain When You Travel

Posted on May 11, 2021

If you live with chronic pain, traveling can be a real challenge; one you might avoid altogether if possible.

But sometimes traveling is necessary, and with many modes of travel re-opening after previous pandemic lockdowns, it’s once again becoming commonplace to take a plane, train or ship to your next far-away destination.

Still, millions of Americans who live daily with debilitating pain conditions are missing out on visiting distant relatives, exploring the world or taking much-needed vacations simply because it’s often just too hard to take trips when pain is an ever-present travel companion.

If this describes your situation, there’s good news for you; there are many ways to help control your pain when you travel, so you can get out there and see the world more often!

(Bear in mind that you should always consult your pain management physician before travel, to ensure that your individual pain condition won’t be exacerbated by the trip.)

Here are some ways to help minimize the effects of your pain condition when traveling:

Air Travel

  • Be sure to pack a good travel pillow to help support your neck and/or back while on your flight.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, or orthotics if needed, to promote proper gait and posture.
  • Consider checking-in online prior to going to the airport, to avoid standing in long check-in lines, which can be very hard on the back and legs.
  • If you do get stuck in a long line, try contracting the muscles in your stomach and buttocks to transfer support to your core and reduce strain on your back.
  • During your flight, try to get up and move around the cabin as frequently as possible; stretch as much as you can within the confined space, to work your muscles and enable proper blood flow.
  • If your pain doctor recommends it, you may also bring along heating patches for relief while inactive during long flights in cramped, often uncomfortable spaces.

Road Trips

  • When driving long distances, plan to step as frequently as possible, to get you up and moving, and the blood flowing. Take a walk, stretch; anything to get you out of the car periodically.
  • If at all possible, share the driving duties with a travel companion. This will enable you to lean the seat back, stretch your legs and get into a comfortable, supported position.
  • If renting a car, try finding one with heated seats; this may provide some relief from pain and tense muscles during the ride. If heated seating isn’t available, you may try heat patches, (again, check with your pain doctor before considering these options.)


  • If possible, stay in a hotel that has good quality mattresses, to ensure full body support and comfortable, restorative sleep.
  • If staying in a hostel, make sure to request a lower bunk bed, so you don’t have to climb a ladder to ‘hit the sack’.
  • If camping, it’s well worth the money to invest in Therm-a-Rest camping gear, such as sleeping pads, hammocks and sleeping bags, to guarantee comfort while you’re out ‘roughing it’.


  • Your pain management physician may recommend over-the-counter or prescription medication to provide pain relief during your travels. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations for dosage and be sure to keep any medicines handy in your carry-on, in the original prescription bottle so security can confirm that you’re permitted to have it in your possession.

Above all, take care of yourself with good daily habits; stretch every day, stay hydrated, get plenty of sleep and follow your pain doctor’s recommendations for diet, exercise and other important lifestyle factors.

When you work to minimize risks and symptoms of your pain in your everyday life, travel and other activities can not only be endured, but even pleasurable!

And remember to always wear a mask to protect against the spread of COVID-19 when social distancing is not possible during your trip.

Don’t Let Your Pain Deprive You of The Life You Deserve

At Riverside Pain Physicians, we understand that our patients are people; people who want to live active day-to-day lifestyles, unhindered by the constraints of chronic pain.

Our compassionate, expert pain physicians are equipped with state-of-the-art technology to treat your pain and restore your quality of life.

If your chronic pain is causing you to miss out on activities you want to do in life, we’re happy to provide more information about options for minimizing or eliminating your suffering. Simply contact Riverside Pain Physicians today at 904.389.1010 or click here to set up an appointment online at one of our clinics.

Tags: Chronic Pain, Chronic Pain Management, Chronic Pain Treatment Jacksonville