Nine Proven Tips to Surviving Long-Haul Flight With Scoliosis

After two major surgeries, my curviness is still very prominent, but that hasn’t stopped me from traveling to a bucket list full of locations; about 23 countries (I think). With all my years of travel experience, I feel like I am pretty well-versed on how to travel with scoliosis, and I wanted to share my nine proven tips on how to survive those dreaded long-haul flights.

  1. Always Wear Yoga Pants – If for some crazy reason, you’re thinking that you should wear heels, skin-tight jeans, or anything else that’s completely impractical and uncomfortable, just don’t. When you have scoliosis, you want to always travel in the most comfortable and practical clothing possible. You will, more than likely, experience some level of pain throughout your trip, thus, you don’t want to be in pain and uncomfortable as well; it’s simply not a good idea.

  2. Compression Socks Are Friends Not Enemies – Now, I know what you’re thinking, why would I ever travel in compression socks? Don’t be fooled by the romanticized idea of traveling in style, as I mentioned above, when you have scoliosis, you want to wear whatever is practical and comfortable. Trust me on this one; wearing your compression socks is the only way you should travel. Your body will thank me when you arrive.

  3. Aspirin = Lifesaver – I am not a doctor, but I can tell you that Aspirin is a blood thinner and taking one before you take off helps prevent things like blood clots and inflammation. Inflammation, I’m sure you’re aware causes pain, and avoiding pain should be your only mission while on board a long-haul flight.

  4. Drink Water – Water is paramount to avoiding inflammation. So basically, if you want to try to avoid pain, you need to drink more water.

  5. Booze Is Counterproductive – I know it’s hard to say no to a nightcap, but booze dehydrates your body, and so does air travel, and two negatives do not make a positive. Avoiding the cocktails on your flight may save you from a ton a pain later on. When push comes to shove, drink sparkling water, at least it has bubbles, right?

  6. Stand up and Stretch…Often – You know those babies who run up and down the aisles when you’re trying to fall asleep? Be like one of those babies; they know what’s up. They realize they need to be moving, and honestly, so should you. When in doubt, stand up and stretch, your body will feel so much better when you arrive if you do.

  7. Don’t Be Afraid to Find Whatever Position Works for You – I love sitting with my legs crossed, or having one leg underneath my tushy 😉 It helps me keep my posture straight, and I feel so much better when I arrive.  You know your body better than anyone else, find a position that works for you and stick to it.

  8. When in Doubt, Buy Melatonin – I am not a big fan of taking medications, just for the sake of taking them, but sometimes you need to sleep, and melatonin provides a nice relief if you can’t sleep.

  9. Avoid Those Sloth Tendencies, and Get More Pillows – I usually ask for a ton of pillows when I fly.  I personally love having a pillow to sit on, a pillow behind my curve, a pillow underneath my neck, and a pillow I hold on to; it sounds pretty excessive, right? Wrong. Pillows will help you create a nice comfortable spot for you to be able to fall asleep and wake up the next morning like a normal human being instead of dragging sloth.

Do you have any tips or tricks you use when you travel? Let me know what you do by commenting below. Also, side note: I am not a medical professional, so if you use any of my secrets please consult your doctor before you do (just in case).

Photo Credit: Adam Bergman.

12 thoughts on “Nine Proven Tips to Surviving Long-Haul Flight With Scoliosis

  1. I don’t have Scoliosis. But do lots of the above. I also wear a thin sanitary towel for those tiny leaks and also to keep my underwear fresh during long travel hours. I keep my empty water bottle too. Airports usually have extra clean water to fill up when you cannot find change or have time to buy more. A small box of raisins helps keep up my vitamins and stave off hunger for a while.

  2. I love your thoughts on pillows! My daughter, almost 16 and scoliosis sufferer as well, travels with, sleeps with, and sits with an absurd amount of pillows. Her pillow thrown. They keep her comfy and positioned well. If only they weren’t so bulky. We do a lot of memory foam too. We bought a gel memory foam mattress topper, then I cut it down and made cases for it. It travels a little easier, because there are never enough pillows. We have never flown with her. I’m glad to know we are not the only people needing tons of pillows! 🙂

    1. Has she had surgery? Having a protruding curve is super uncomfortable, and pillows help you feel like your body is balanced out a little. When I was 16, I didn’t want to bring a pillow to school, because it was bad enough that I had a big deformity, the last thing I wanted was to be the girl carrying the pillow. So instead, I would place my right hand under rather my curve so that I had the support I needed for my curve. In retrospect, I should have brought the pillow. It would have saved me years of discomfort! As far as mattresses goes, I love super hard mattresses. Anything that’s too soft gives me pain. Sending lots of positive happy thoughts your way!

      1. She’s had 15 surgeries on her back. 2 rod placements, spinal repair, detethering, infection removal, lipoma removal and she just had her rods removed for a second time due to infection. Bailynn’s curve has created a seating challenge. Her rods straightened her, but she also suffered a stroke while I was pregnant, and had the left side of her brain removed at 15months, so our biggest challenge is muscle weakness. She doesn’t have words, so we rely on her to give us cues to her pain and needs for comfort and we position her the best we can. She just got fitted for a new soft clam shell back brace, that she is going to HATE!, to wear while in her wheelchair and in the car. She hasn’t needed one in over 7 years while her rods where in place. Her rods had been nothing but trouble though. Scoliosis is a never ending battle that we truly could have done with out. Stupid scoliosis!

      2. scoliosis really does sucks. It’s bad enough that it’s a lifelong condition, but there really isn’t enough advancement in scoliosis to make a difference to the wellbeing of the people living with scoliosis. The only two options are bracing and major surgery and neither one of those two really solves the problem. It’s like putting a bandaid on a ginormous wound. Do you give her massages ? I know it’s only temporary relief but it helps me so much to have body work done. If I can help in anyway, please let me know.

    2. I am 18 and my scoliosis is only getting worse. I just had a panic attack last night. It’s insane what is happening. I will just wear my brace all day and hope for the best… Is it true that after you stop growing it does not progress so fast?

      1. It’s great to connect with people who actually know what scoliosis is & how it affects every aspect of your life. Most non-scoliosis people don’t understand the pain and limitations in your life 24/7! I had a Harrington rod and spinal fusion in 1984 from T2 to L4. The surgery was a great success. It took me 2 years of rehabilitation physical therapy and occupational therapy to get back to normal. I got married, had 2 children and worked full time for 37 years. I’m now 66 years old. Unfortunately below my fusion my spine was deteriorating, after 20 years. I ended up having 2 revision surgeries anterior and poster spinal fusion with multiple rods, pins and cages. This surgery yielded good results, but I never went back to ‘normal’ and my pain was a constant in my life, just varying levels 3-10 on the pain spectrum. I’ve retired & am limited by my back etc. My limitations have increased & my chronic pain is ever present. I don’t regret getting my surgeries, I didn’t have much of a choice due to the severity of my S shaped curves. It do get into the “why me” head space. I usually pull myself out of that by accepting this is my life AND it could have been a lot worse!

    1. Haha! Well, surgery, in my opinion doesn’t fix scoliosis, it simply helps the curve, but even if you did have surgery you would still have scoliosis 😜

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