As we enter the holidays many people across the country are taking the opportunity to travel, sometimes to visit relatives, take general time off their busy routine, or possibly just to get away from the cold. While the destination of such travels is almost always the subject of excitement and anticipation, more and more people are starting to dread the journey. While air travel is one of the great modern conveniences of civilization, processes at an airport can be fraught with delays and protocols that can threaten to derail any trip. If you plan to drive yourself or be a passenger on a road trip, there are rigors to the road that can similarly make a vacation feel like it somehow comes with a giant backache attached.

Supplies and Provisions

If your trip is going to be for an extended period, then you will almost certainly be packing a bag or two. Believe it or not, many back injuries occur at this most preliminary phases. While luggage is generally designed to be transported conveniently, irregular shapes or distribution of weight can put undue stress on your back when you are least expecting it. Always observe proper lifting etiquette when loading or unloading luggage, including lifting with your knees and not your back, and making sure you are moving in deliberate, controlled motions.
One other thing you may want to watch out for is making sure you are not overpacking for your trip. It can be a natural instinct to pack for every contingency. However, if your bags are perpetually overstuffed, this can add up on your back. Consider if some supplies or toiletries can be acquired or purchased on site. See if your destination has laundry services that can help reduce the need to pack an extensive wardrobe while on the road. Also, consider investing in luggage with wheels and supportive handles or straps that can make lifting and carrying it around even easier.

State of Mind and Body

Some people can sit in a car or a plane as readily as sitting in front of a TV. However, for many of us, being cramped into a vehicle for an extended period can cause significant discomfort. If our minds are stressed, and our bodies are fraught with tension, this can easily translate into back pain. If you are prone to headaches or motion sickness, you may want to make sure you have some pain reliever or a product like Dramamine on hand to mitigate any discomfort. Consult with your healthcare professional to determine what products and dosages are right for you. Some of these medicines can take time before they go into effect, make sure you plan accordingly. If you are traveling by air, make sure you give yourself enough time to navigate the check-in process at the airport. Some airlines even offer a form of preliminary check-in, cutting down on some of the paperwork needed to get to your gate. If you have to store your vehicle at the airport, plan additionally to find parking then catching a shuttle or similar conveyance to the airport proper, all while encumbered with your luggage. If the time starts creeping closer to your flight and you are stuck being processed, this can have a distinct effect on your mood which in turn may produce physical pain and tension in your back. Delays and contingencies are common in any undertaking. Doing your best to prevent as many as possible can make sure you’re prepared to handle any bump in the road, both literal and figurative.

Assuming the Proper Posture

When you are traveling, this typically requires you to assume a seated position for possibly hours at a time. How you are seating yourself can have extended implications on your health for the rest of the trip. If you have any experience at all in an office job setting, you may know that sitting in a hunched, seated position for hours upon hours can do a number on your back. Even though it takes some extra attention, you want to be seated in as good a posture as you can manage. Try and prevent your spine from resting in a bent, slumped position even if your body seems to be settling that way as the trip goes on. If your environment affords you the opportunity, try to get up and stretch your legs periodically. This can be in the form of pit stops during a car trip, or even pacing the length of a plane if the personnel allow it. If you are able to adjust your seat settings to assume better posture, try and do so. If you are going to be a passenger long enough to get a nap in, consider investing in a travel pillow which is a device that typically provides support for your neck while you are still sitting somewhat upright. If you nod off to sleep while sitting up, you risk having your neck bend and rest upon itself which can lead to uncomfortable contortions and a stiff neck and back upon waking up. Once you have accepted that you will need to hold a particular position for an extended period of time, it is worth making sure it is the best form of that position you can make it.

If you are planning a holiday vacation, the last thing you want is for the travel involved to ruin an otherwise good time. Back pain or injury won’t just make the transportation miserable but will threaten to hang over the rest of the proceedings. Make a few extra preparations, and you can give yourself the best shot at making your next traveling vacation the best trip ever.

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