Air Travel and Lymphedema  

Summer Travel may include taking a flight to your favorite getaway destination, however flying can also increase swelling or potentially cause swelling. 

Busy travel seasons like summertime and holidays require more time at the airport and increase the overall time it takes to reach your destination.  Be prepared.

Upper Extremity Lymphedema

For those with upper extremity lymphedema it is important to avoid carrying heavy bags on your affected arm, roller bags are helpful but consider checking bags to avoid having to transport your luggage through the airport.  A well-fitting compression garment is always important but even more so when traveling.  Avoid any tight-fitting clothes that can  be constrictive and be sure to wear your garment on the plane and during your trip.

Lower Extremity Lymphedema

Anyone with lower extremity lymphedema should also avoid tight-fitting or constrictive clothing. Choosing the right seat is also important, consider spending a little extra money to book economy plus seating, bulkhead, or exit row seating with extra leg room.  Or really treat yourself and fly first class.  If possible, stand up and walk down the aisle once or twice during your flight.  Activate your calf muscle pump at your seat by flexing and pointing your toes, do this several times an hour.  As always, it is important to have a well-fitting compression garment to contain swelling. Remember to continue your regular routine for your lymphedema, even while you’re on vacation.

Final Travel Tips

  • Stay hydrated! The air in the cabin is very dry and it is important to keep hydrated and limit or avoid alcohol.
  • Eat healthy! Most airports have healthy food options. For longer flights, consider taking your own food on the plane and avoiding the airplane meal.  Also, have healthy snacks in your bag to enjoy rather than high sodium or sugar snacks that might be provided by the airline.
  • Be prepared! Be sure to carry a small first aid kit, in the event of a small cut or insect bite that should be treated promptly.

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