Woman has back pain on airplane

If you suffer from back pain, you know how severely it can interfere with your daily life. When your back is hurting, it’s practically all you can think about. Sitting hurts. Standing hurts. Walking hurts. There’s no escape. And when you’re all excited for a trip to a new destination and find yourself stuck in your hotel all day because your back hurts too badly to continue your trip, it’s a major buzz kill.

It’s no fun to always be the one who has to find a bench to hold down mid-hike while the rest of your travel partners get to have the time of their lives. And it’s especially terrible if you’re confined to a hotel bed. The generic floral art will never compare to the wonders in the Louvre.

Even if you’re tough enough to brave your adventures while you’re experiencing back pain, it can be a major distraction to your day. Even if you’re in the most breathtaking, scenic area, your mind will be in another place completely.

Don’t let your bad back hold you back from living life to the fullest extent. Here are five tips that will help you next time you want to plan an adventure and not be in pain the entire time.

1. Visit a medical specialist prior to your trip

Whether you have regularly scheduled check-ups with a medical professional or if this will be your first time seriously discussing your back pain, it’s important to visit a licensed professional before you depart for your trip.

If a physical therapist is right for you, schedule an appointment to stretch your muscles out before you go. If you take prescription or over-the-counter drugs, make sure you’ll be properly stocked for your trip.

If you don’t have a regular physician to visit for your back pain, you should make an appointment with one before traveling. There are many different specialists who treat back pain who can help customize your treatment. A licensed professional will help give you the most personalized recommendations for treating your pain.

2. Investigate your sleep accommodations beforehand

Having restorative sleep each night is incredibly important to your health and wellbeing. Your back and muscles need time for quality sleep to rejuvenate and heal from any inflammation that occurred during the day. It’s especially important to get quality sleep while traveling so you can stay energized for your trip.

If you suffer from severe back pain, you’ve probably investigated the best mattress to sleep on for your back pain. You shouldn’t skip out on this just because you’re traveling and not sleeping at home.

Licensed chiropractor Dr. Jon Dominique of Alpine Chiropractic reported that 20 to 30 percent of his patients who report waking up in chronic pain can relate the issue back to sleeping on a poor mattress. When you’re on vacation and sleeping in an unfamiliar bed, it’s especially important to look into your sleeping accommodations and adjust accordingly.

Don’t be afraid to call your hotel or Airbnb host to investigate the type of mattress they provide. Knowing ahead of time if you’ll have to sleep on an innerspring or memory foam mattress when you prefer the other will help you make sure you make the right selection for your trip.

3. Plan your agenda accordingly—know your limits

If you plan to walk the immense grounds at Versailles, climb to the top of the Eiffel Tower and go cycling across Paris’ cobblestones all in one day, you’re probably overdoing it. Be realistic in your planning. It’s okay to want to do it all, but make sure you’re spreading your activities out in the way that makes the most sense to you.

Try to limit yourself to only planning one physical activity a day so you’re not pushing your limits. There are plenty of ways to see a city that isn’t extremely strenuous.

Think about how much walking you’ll need to do in your days as well and try to limit it. Most cities have trolleys, buses, boats, ride sharing or other public transportation options you can take advantage of to give your back a break.

It’s also important to strategically order your activities to give yourself proper breaks during the day and not become physically exhausted. If you have a more strenuous physical activity planned for your day, try to do it after lunch. This way, your body will have had time to be warmed up for your activity and you’ll be fueled with food. If you save it for the last activity of the day, your body will already be drained and you’ll be more likely to cause injuries. You’ll also have plenty of time after your mid-day activity to wind down, heal your muscles, and prepare for the next day.

4. Be prepared! Pack smart.

When it comes to making sure you have all the essentials, you need to focus on having your travel pack ready and your luggage filled with everything you’ll need at night to re-energize your body.

Travel pack essentials:

  • Water. Hydration is key for keeping your muscles in proper working order.
  • Pain treatments. Make sure you’re stocked up on prescription medications, kinetic tape, or any natural remedies you use regularly to reduce your inflammation and pain.
  • Cushions. If hard seating is a problem for you, accommodate with a seat cushion to help you keep correct posture and protect your back.
  • Energizing snacks. Keep proteins like nuts with you so if you start to get exhausted, you can fuel up.

Luggage essentials:

  • Supportive shoes. Everyone knows this one.
  • Heating/cooling pad. Heal your back at night with a heating or cooling pad.
  • Yoga mat. Do you regularly perform stretches to keep your core strong and back safe? Bring a yoga mat so you can keep up your routine in your hotel room.

5. Don’t overdo it… but don’t hold back either  

Make sure that you know your limits when it comes to your back pain. Take short breaks when needed—even if you aren’t completely worn out yet—to keep your body healthy.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do everything that you want, though. You shouldn’t be afraid to do all the things you want to enjoy your trip. However, you do need to be smart about the way you do it. It’s never wise to make yourself vulnerable to further injuries. Follow these tips, plan your trip wisely, and know when you need to make adjustments to your schedule or manner of transportation to stay safe.

Whatever you do, make the most of your time and never let your pain hold you back from the trip of a lifetime.


About The Author

Laurie Larson is a freelance writer from Durham, NC. When she isn’t busy writing, she loves planning fun adventures with her friends and practicing her photography skills.

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