Holiday with Ankylosing Spondylitis | This AS Life

Beach, city, country or culture? Choosing where to go on holiday is difficult at the best of times. AS just seems to complicate it even more. That’s why we’ve put together some AS do’s and dont's of the holiday season.



You don’t just have to decide whether you want a hot or a cold holiday, but also if it’s going to be humid or not. A humid climate may cause increased AS pain1 so think carefully about colder, humid places like UK or Canada as well as tropical regions, such as Southeast Asia or South America.



If you’re planning on seeing a few different places on your trip, you might want to rent a car. If you’re driving, check the quality of the roads as even countries like Norway and Greece can offer a bumpy ride2.

If renting a car isn’t possible then have a look for an alternative. For example, countries such as Thailand and Morocco have a good rail network and affordable first-class fares.



Your family or a partner most likely know you, and AS, well. But if you’re travelling with friends, make sure they’re clear on how much help you might need. Set realistic expectations of how much you can do so that they don’t get frustrated. Help them understand that you may need to keep a slower pace and if you’re mid-flare then you may need to lean on them even more – maybe even literally.


Once you know where you’re going and who with, you only need to pack. Easier said than done. It’s worth some serious thought from start to finish. Think about the right bag (we recommend something with wheels) and try to pack as efficiently as possible (because there’s no point in extra weight).

After you’ve squeezed your suitcase shut, it’s time to check your paperwork. The one thing you never want to forget is medication. A lot of AS strength-pain medications are ‘controlled substances’ so you may need a doctor’s letter in order to bring it with you. Check the local regulations for your destination in advance.

As you know, AS is such an unpredictable condition. It can pay to be covered for any eventuality with comprehensive travel insurance.


If you’re chasing the sun then you’ll probably need to face a flight. Here’s how to make it as painless as possible:

  • Stretch regularly – Long-haul flights are generally uncomfortable but research suggests that a 15-minute walk around the plane can significantly improve passenger comfort3.
  • Be seat smart – Check in early for the best seats. Use sites like, which rate each of the seats on a plane by comfort, to put yourself in the best position. You can even go as far as selecting your flight by the average seat pitch– research suggests that 36in is the optimum space for comfortable sitting posture.
  • Get comfy – Planes usually carry spare pillows, blankets and flight socks. Don’t be afraid to ask for more of all of these in order to create the cushioning and seating profile that you need to stay comfortable.


Once you get to your destination, the best way to enjoy your time there is to plan your activities. AS shouldn’t stop you from doing anything, but check with your doctor before you leave and be sure to take enough medication.

Don’t feel like you have to pack too much in either, take breaks during the day and alternate active days sightseeing with lazy days by the pool with a cold drink. Relax – you’re on holiday…


1-Falkenbach A et al. Pain in ankylosing spondylitis-the impact of the weather. International Journal of Environmental Health Research. 1998 [last accessed 21-10-16]

2-The Global Competiveness Report 2011-2012

3-Mastrigt H et al. The influence of activities and duration on comfort and discomfort development in time of aircraft passengers.Work. 2016 [last accessed 21-10-16]


This article was written by the resident experts at A social site helping the whole AS community to: Learn. Share. Inspire. Discuss.




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