Tips: How To Travel Pain-Free When You Have A Bad Back

Vacations are supposed to be relaxing, but traveling can put a strain on your body, causing pain in the neck and the spine.

Apparently, 80 percent of Americans suffer from a more or less severe form of back pain.

There’s no wonder many people are terrified by the idea of longer trips in uncomfortable seats.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do to reduce and even eliminate the back pain associated with travel.

Here are the main steps that should keep back pain away from you.

Travel Tips For Bad Back

1) Preparation – Plan Ahead

The more you plan ahead, the less you’re going to have to spend your time standing in endless lines.

Purchase e-tickets, user your frequent flyer benefits, do the check-in online on your computer or mobile device and try to travel lighter.

This will save you from spending a lot of time standing or carrying heavy bags around.

2) Packing – Travel Light

When was the last time you’ve used all items you packed for a trip?

Avoid overpacking. Light luggage will put less strain on your shoulders and spine.

For a plus of comfort, take a suitcase with wheels and a handle for rolling.

3) Posture – Check Your Alignment

Sitting for long periods of time can cause back pain and discomfort, and improper alignment can worsen the situation.

In order to prevent or alleviate the pain, make sure your back is aligned against the backrest of the seat, and the middle of your head is resting on the headrest.

Keep your shoulders straight and avoid pushing your head forward.

Check that both your feet are firmly resting on the floor.

Avoid crossing them.

4) What You Do With Your Legs Matters

Always try to extend your legs whenever possible.

Keeping your legs bent for a long time increases the risk of blood clots forming in the leg veins.

Every hour or so, stand up, stretch your legs and arms, and take a few steps.

5) Tilt Your Seat

Tilting your seat backward while supporting your back with a pillow enables you to maintain the proper alignment of the spine.

Moreover, this position helps the loads to be evenly distributed along the spine, thus avoiding the formation of tension points.

Some headrests have adjustable pads on the sides that can help you prevent falling asleep in a bad position.

You can help improve your blood circulation by stretching your neck, back, shoulders, legs, and arms.

Tilt Your Seat When Traveling

Blood is critical because it carries all nutrients and the oxygen your cells need to function properly.

The better your blood circulation, the more the muscles and the soft tissues in your back are going to be stimulated.

This is an excellent method to prevent stiffness.

All you need is to stretch and move for a few seconds to restore your normal blood flow.

Nonetheless, if you have severe back pains, you should avoid difficult exercises and strenuous moves at least until you get examined by a medical doctor.

6) Remember To Stretch

As airplanes and cars are usually cramped, you should do stretches against a tensed muscle. Here are some examples:


  • Flexion: Forward bends.
  • Extension: Backward bends.
  • Side Bends: Tilt your neck alternately to the left and the right.
  • Rotation: Rotate your neck clockwise, and then anticlockwise.


  • Flexion: Forward bends.
  • Extension: Backward bends.
  • Side Bends: Tilt your neck alternately to the left and the right.
  • Rotation: Rotate your neck clockwise, and then anticlockwise.

Arms And Shoulders

With both hands placed against a doorway, hold on to the sides, just like Superman was doing before taking off.

Lean forward into the doorframe, with your chest leading the motion.

Hold this position for 30 seconds to one minute, and then revert to the starting position.

Repeat three times.

Stretch Arms When Travel

Legs And Calves

Standing hamstring stretches:

  • With your legs straight, start bending forward at your waist, and try to touch your toes.
  • Don’t push, but hold the position for about 30 – 45 seconds.
  • Change the leg and repeat.
  • Do the exercise three times.

Sitting hamstring stretch:

  • Put your straight leg on a furniture item at a chair’s height.
  • With your leg straight, flex your foot and toes.
  • Lean in and hold for 30 seconds.
  • Change the leg and repeat three times.


Always remember to breathe in and out properly while you do your stretches.


Drink plenty of water while traveling.

This will help to improve the dynamic of your bodily fluids.


Try to remember that the purpose of traveling is to relax and feel good.

Don’t let anybody and anything ruin your happiness and your relaxation.