Traveling with a chronic health condition like osteoporosis can be intimidating at first. Osteoporosis affects your daily life and requires a few adjustments to prevent broken bones.
But having osteoporosis does not always mean you have to give up on travels and fun activities! On the contrary, you can live a normal life with your condition in most cases.
One of the main concerns when traveling with osteoporosis, though, is the increased risk of falls and fractures due to changes in environment, activities, and habits. However, you can limit these risks with a few pre-departure and on-site precautions.
So, here are our best tips for traveling safely with osteoporosis!
If you have osteoporosis and recent fractures, we recommend asking for your doctor's advice before traveling.
Related article: Tips for traveling with rheumatoid arthritis.
Can Someone with Osteoporosis Travel?
Of course! Being diagnosed with osteoporosis does not mean you have to stop living your life as you want. People with osteoporosis can travel nationally around the U.S.A. and even abroad to any destination country of their choice.
The transport in itself does not hold any major risks for osteoporosis patients. But whenever you’re using some sort of transport, you’re putting your body into vibrations, bumps, and bounces that may have a detrimental effect on your fragile bones. When traveling by air, road, or train, you'll be seated most of the time, which does not pose any particular concern related to your condition. However, if traveling by boat, you'll need to be more cautious about slippery decks that can make you fall.
Eventually, it all depends on your personal and medical situation. For example, someone with osteoporosis with recent fractures that haven’t healed completely yet should avoid long-distance travel. When in doubt, always ask your doctor's advice about whether you're fit to travel at any given moment.
Tips for Traveling with OsteoporosisHaving unusual physical activities and behavior in a new environment can increase fall risks and potential bone fractures. Therefore, taking extra precautions when traveling with osteoporosis is imperative.
Related article: The ultimate checklist for traveling with diabetes.
Avoid circumstances that increase the risk of falls
The main concern when traveling with osteoporosis is the increased risk of falls that could lead to fractures. Therefore, you must take additional precautions to protect yourself.
Try visiting places with good infrastructure, well-maintained sidewalks, escalators instead of stairs, etc.
Pack appropriate and comfortable footwear, especially if you plan to walk more than you usually do. Non-slip soles are very helpful. Use walking sticks or a rollator if needed.
Avoid high-risk situations like sporting activities or alcohol abuse, which significantly increases the risk of falls.
Remember to treat your body well and be gentle with it. You’re on holiday, so get some rest and take time to do your osteoporosis physical exercises as recommended by your doctor.
When traveling to a new destination, there are many things to see, activities to do, places to visit, restaurants to try, etc. But doing too much and rushing increases the risk of falling, so pace yourself and try not to be overactive.
Related article: Tips for People Traveling With Chronic Migraines!
Get the right luggageEasily maneuverable luggage is essential when traveling with osteoporosis. Choose lightweight suitcases with 360 wheels that you do not have to lift. If you have to take the stairs, ask people around you to help you with the luggage.
If traveling by air and can't walk long distances between gates at the airport, request wheelchair assistance in advance.
Visit your doctor and pack enough medicationBefore departure, visit your GP to discuss your trip. Ask them for advice, tips, and safety information. It's also an opportunity to ask about necessary vaccinations depending on your destination.
Ask your doctor for a letter and a copy of your medical prescription. You may be requested to show these documents at the airport security checkpoints, especially when traveling abroad.
Related article: Tips for traveling with medications internationally.
Make sure to pack enough medication and medical supplies for the entire duration of your trip, as well as some spare in case your flight back gets delayed or you decide to extend your stay.
Keep your osteoporosis drugs coolMedications are fragile, and most of them must be stored in a cool, dry place. Exposure to heat, sunlight, and moisture can damage your medicine. Consider using a cooler if you’re traveling to hot-weather destinations.
If you’re using parathyroid hormone injections for osteoporosis treatment, like Forteo or Tymlos, remember that these drugs need to be refrigerated. Tymlos can stay at room temperature for 30 days, but it should never be exposed to temperatures above (77°F / 25°C). Forteo is even more fragile as it can only be left unrefrigerated for a maximum of 36 hours.
Traveling with such sensitive drugs requires reliable equipment that guarantees they stay safe and effective. For example, consider using a medical-grade travel fridge, like the ones from 4AllFamily.
Related article: How to travel with Forteo pens for osteoporosis?
Travel insurance for osteoporosisHaving osteoporosis could affect your travel insurance plan and coverage. Indeed, most chronic health conditions like osteoporosis, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or asthma, for example, are considered pre-existing medical conditions and are excluded from coverage by most travel insurers.
You may need a specific plan or clause to waive the exclusion and ensure you’re covered in case of a bone fracture while traveling or lost medication. But you must declare your osteoporosis diagnosis to your insurer and may be required to complete a medical assessment and pay extra fees.
Related article: How to find travel insurance for pre-existing medical conditions?
At your destinationOnce you've reached your destination and settled into your hotel room, it's time to enjoy your holiday! A few final tips can help you keep your travel fall-free and healthy:
- Make sure your room is safe. Do not store your luggage on the floor. Remove any object that could make you trip (rugs, electrical cords, etc.)
- Secure the bathroom floor with non-slip surfaces. Most hotels will happily accommodate customers with special needs and provide grab bars and slip-proof accessories when available.
- Store your osteoporosis drugs in a cool, dry place away from light and moisture or in the refrigerator if necessary.
Travels intrinsically involves unfamiliar environment and changes of routine that can increase the risk of falls and fractures, especially for people with osteoporosis and fragile bones. But with careful planning, common sense precautions, and emergency preparedness, you will have a great, safe, healthy, and happy holiday!
Please share your experiences with us! Are you a frequent traveler living with osteoporosis? What tips would you like to share with others?