Travel and Your Knees: Strategies for Great Vacations
Written by Mary Harris (Travel Blogger)
I read blogs by other people; never thought I’d write one. After all, I’m a senior citizen!
But here goes…
Do you like to travel? My husband and I do – lots! It’s our passion, whether for a weekend, a week, or six weeks. And with age, we’ve had to find ways to travel comfortably, or, heaven forbid, stop traveling! Like most things in life, it’s about choices, finding your “fit”, and planning. Travel and your knees don’t go together very well, unless you plan ahead. Physical limitations may change the way you travel. In this first of a series of blogs about getting the most out of active travel with mobility limitations in mind, I share a few strategies here.
Physical limitations that have come with age have altered the way we go. My husband and I have each had a knee replacement, and both of us have back issues. We go, but we’re slow, and find we can no longer keep up with a group. That being said, we did manage the almost 1 mile walk into Petra, Jordan with a tour group this past spring, and then walked quite a distance into the site, beyond the “Treasury”. Uneven surfaces and thousands of photo ops, so we were behind all the way.
Know Your Limitations
And that brings me to a crucial point: know your limitations and plan ahead whenever possible. This requires honesty and careful observation. Who was the philosopher who said, “Know thyself!”? First, we inform our guide or leader that we’re slow. And we realize that we have a responsibility to be at meeting points on time. This may mean that we don’t get to see it all.
It also means that we much prefer trips where we can go at our own pace. And yes, sometimes we need a nap, especially on a trip that has included a long flight, changing planes, stress, etc.
Know Your Options
Second, whenever possible, know your options. Before our trip to Jordan and Israel, we had researched Petra, so we were prepared for the long walk into the site, and knew the available options that didn’t require walking. We paid for a horse cart back out, which made the excursion more enjoyable and worry-free. But we hadn’t realized the amount of walking we’d encounter in Israel, or the number of stairs and the hilly, uneven terrain. Thankfully, I had packed a collapsible cane, and we were ready for the rain, with $1.50 disposable, plastic raincoats. Two items I highly recommend.
Who Is This Travel Blogger, Mary A. Harris?
Do Your Research
Also, research the amount of physical activity involved in any trip. If it’s a tour, ask the company:
- is it an easy Level 1,
- or a strenuous Level 4?
Ask if you can be placed with a less strenuous group. We have noticed that some companies (example, Viking River Cruises) seem to group travelers according to physical ability for onshore walking tours.
Build Your Strength
Regardless, you will need lots of extra strength for your trip. Even if you’re going to a beach and walking in the sand, or swimming/snorkeling in the ocean, you’ll need extra muscle strength. So we also suggest that you develop an exercise plan and even recommend working with a trainer consistently for 3-4 months before your trip. If you had a knee replaced (or two!) remember the time you spent on the X10 and how much faster you resumed your favorite activities? In the same way, exercise keeps you going on a trip! And you may need that extra strength for the unexpected. Recently we were in an airport where the shuttle shut down in an emergency, no wheel chairs were available, and we had to walk almost a mile, with our carry-ons, to a distant terminal to get to our gate. Thankfully we were early. You never know the stamina/strength you may need.
So get fit! To read Part 2 of my travel series click here.
The X10 Meta-Blog
We call it a “Meta-Blog” because we step back and give you a broad perspective on all aspects of knee health, surgery and recovery.
In this one-of-a-kind blog we gather together great thinkers, doers, writers related to Knee Surgery, Recovery, Preparation, Care, Success and Failure. Meet physical therapists, coaches, surgeons, patients, and as many smart people as we can gather to create useful articles for you. Whether you have a surgery upcoming, in the rear-view mirror, or just want to take care of your knees to avoid surgery, you should find some value here. Executive Editor: PJ Ewing (firstname.lastname@example.org)