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a pill bottle, heating pad, handicap parking pass, and cane with a road in the background

My Traveling Survival Guide: What I'm Packing and Why

This month, I will be going on my first long-distance road trip since I was diagnosed with AS. While I am completely overjoyed at the prospect of getting a much-needed vacation, I still find myself slightly apprehensive. A rough road trip in 2019 was what led me to my AS diagnosis, and I fear that my vacation will be ruined by AS yet again.

I’m going in prepared

I know it may be early, but I have already started compiling a list of the things I absolutely cannot leave behind this time. I guess you could call it a “traveling with AS survival kit” of sorts. If you feel like I have left out anything important or you have some suggestions/tips, please leave them in the comment section below! I wrote this with plenty of time to spare so I could hear your input.


I don’t know about you, but for whatever reason, this is usually the one I tend to always forget about until I’m 2 hours down the road. Nope, not this time! The medications I take are vital to my health and are sometimes my only way of being able to function. Very important!

Heating pad/cold pack

My heating pad is my very best friend, and sometimes it’s the only thing that gets me by on really high pain days. Definitely a must-have for me.

Tiger balm/ salonpas

Again, another lifesaver. I’ll actually be proactive and apply these before leaving the house to curb any discomfort from sitting too long in the car.

Handicap parking pass

This is an important one, especially when traveling to a tourist destination. I honestly have not used my parking pass since the spring of 2020, but it may be needed in certain circumstances. There is no telling what type of shape I may end up in because AS is SO unpredictable, so I definitely will have this on hand just in case.

Mobility aid

I’ll be honest, I haven’t used my cane in over a year now (what a blessing!) but again, I would hate to end up in the worst flare of my life 500 miles from home without it. I’d rather be safe than sorry.

Donut pillow

Ok, so I do not actually own one of these yet, but I hear that they can be a real-life-saver for some when it comes to road trips. So, add to cart and add to packing list!


I have a feeling sleep is going to be hard to come by. Sleeping with AS is already hard enough (as I’m sure you know). Now, throw in sleeping in an unfamiliar and possibly uncomfortable bed, and it could make for a lot of sleepless nights. No thanks.

All orthopedic devices

(This one is pretty personal to my needs and may not be necessary for most.) Long gone are the days when I would bring a suitcase full of fun summer wedges and strappy heels for nights out. This time I'll be packing a suitcase for all of my compression socks, an orthopedic walking boot, and a post-operative shoe. Not trendy, but unfortunately, the other conditions I developed alongside my AS can become a problem at any time (much like AS), so I definitely need to be prepared.

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