How to Camp and Travel with a Bad Back

Camp and Travel with a Bad Back

By Elise Morgan

Those of us who love adventuring don’t ever want to stop, and we certainly aren’t going to let the years keep us from travelling. But as time marches on, many people find it more and more difficult to travel and venture outdoors.

One of the most common hurdles is a bad back. If your back pain is making you feel like your adventuring days are behind you, here are some tips to camp and travel with a bad back.

 

Pack smarter, not lighter.

It can be really tempting to pack fewer things to keep your backpack/luggage weight down. Lighter luggage, less back pain, right? Not exactly. You want to make sure that you are bringing enough supplies for your camping trip, especially ziploc bags of medication and ice for back swelling.

 

Stretch more than you think.

Stretch in the morning before you start any physical activity, then stretch after, then stretch again. Once you finish that, stretch some more.  The benefits of proper stretching for lower back pain cannot be overstated. Keeping your muscles loose and releasing built up lactic acid will help you stay on your feet and out of trouble on hikes and camping excursions.

 

Bring the right sleeping supplies.

When I went camping at 18 it inevitably meant slumping against trees, sitting on logs by the campfire and sleeping on the cold hard ground.

Don’t do that. Come prepared with a camping mat, a sleeping bag, and a lumbar pillow for your back. Getting the proper sleep can do wonders for back pain, but sadly proper sleep is often one of the first things to go out the window when you’re out in the wilderness.

So, make sure you’re coming prepared and getting the best sleep you can be. That way you can crush your hike in the morning.

 

If you’re flying, speak up.

Air travel can be tough on the back, but it doesn’t have to be. Don’t be afraid to let your airline know that you have back issues and need accommodations. Often times they have things like pillows and seat accommodations that can make a big difference in your travel, especially on longer flights.

 

Pack multiple types of medication.

Anyone going camping with back pain should come prepared with plenty of painkillers and anti-inflammatories. Make sure that you have a good mix of your prescription painkillers (if you have them) and OTC drugs.

One neat trick for OTC relief is to take one Tylenol and one Ibuprofen every three hours. The different active ingredients will work in tandem to give you better overall relief. Tylenol (acetaminophen) can have negative side effects for individuals with higher blood pressure, so make sure you’ve spoken to your doctor about what types of medications are right for you.

 

Conclusion

Your back pain may have you down, but you’re definitely not out. Follow these useful travel tips and you can keep adventuring through the wilderness into your older years. Always remember, back pain is extremely common, extremely frustrating and extremely manageable. Lots of people deal with it, everyone hates it, and we can all get through it together.

 

 

Guest Author

Elise is a freelance writer located in the mountains of North Carolina and has recently discovered her love for writing about health, wellness, and fitness.

Growing up, Elise was always running out the door to go to soccer, gymnastics, or any other sports practice her parents could think of, but as she has grown older, she has transitioned to writing about the sports and watching her children participate instead. In her free time, Elise enjoys yoga, trying out new healthy recipes, and visiting new restaurants with her friends and family.

28 thoughts on “How to Camp and Travel with a Bad Back

  • August 1, 2019 at 5:37 pm
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    I always feel that back pain is best handled gently. So sleeping gear helps. But constant stretching over the day also helps. And I guess taking care not to bend unnecessarily. You have shared good tips.

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  • July 25, 2019 at 3:24 am
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    Thanks for all the tips. Indeed packing smart is essential than packing light and missing out on some things that you may need in emergency!
    You’re right. When I was young, I could sleep anywhere – I slept in buses, standing! Now, a decent sleep actually does wonders. Getting the right sleeping gear is a must!
    Stretching definitely does wonders. Thanks for the tip that we need to do it more often than we think is necessary. Same goes with hydration as well!

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  • July 8, 2019 at 4:01 pm
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    These are great tips to follow even if you do not already have a bad back. There are a lot of preventive methods that you mention that I think are really important. Foremost, it’s essential to stretch as you mentioned. I think yoga is a great way to incorporate stretching into your hiking/camping routine. As a bonus, you can use your yoga mat as extra cushioning for your bed. I also think that packing smarter is very beneficial. Less stuff to lug around!

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  • July 7, 2019 at 1:52 pm
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    I’m not much of an outdoorsy person but these are great tips! Thanks for sharing them!

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  • July 7, 2019 at 10:57 am
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    Hey, these are some excellent handy tips for sure. And, I second with you….a bad posture definitely leads to an aggravation of the backache. Also, being hydrated helps to remove the stiffness.

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  • July 4, 2019 at 2:23 am
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    These are great tips as I like to camp with my family. Although I don’t have back problem, but I think these tips are good to follow from now on to prevent early back pain. I will keep in mind the special pillow in the plane.

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  • July 3, 2019 at 11:56 pm
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    Taking a lumbar pillow is something I have not done but will now do the next time we travel. For some odd reason, I always take a neck pillow instead of a lumbar pillow which I need the most. Thanks for these tips. Now me and my husband can go outdoors more often and not worry about aches and pains.

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  • July 3, 2019 at 2:41 pm
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    Yes, i have back pain and yes it makes me avoid too much outdoorsy stuff because of it. So I read with interest your tips and agree that stretching is really fundamental before doing physical activity. Bringing along ice packs is another great tip. The first thing I will put into practise is to let my airline know of my condition, I did not think of that!

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  • July 3, 2019 at 12:35 pm
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    I have a bad back too. I really believe that we should “Pack smarter, not lighter.” If we think we don’t need unnecessary stuff, don’t bring it. Also, make use of the free spaces. I usually roll my clothes so it won’t consume more space. As a pharmacist, I always bring painkillers and common medications in my pill box so I’m ready for any unfortunate circumstances.

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  • July 3, 2019 at 10:08 am
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    Great tips on traveling with back pain. I always forget to stretch haha, unless my travel partner reminds me! A lumbar pillow is definitely useful. I always bring one while going camping.

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  • July 3, 2019 at 4:49 am
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    So in India, camping is relatively low. But I do agree with ‘stretch all the time’, even during regular travels. Medication box is certainly a must carry and being easy on yourself matters. After all, we all travel to absorb and not rush through. I wish to try camping one day though like this, have done luxury tents but not regular camping.

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  • July 2, 2019 at 9:30 pm
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    stretching is so important, I always forget to and regret it later! I have lower backpain but love to go hiking and travelling. I did not know that airlines can help you feel more comfortable if you have pain. thank you for the tip!

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  • July 2, 2019 at 8:27 pm
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    I am going to use these tips for a camping trip i am taking with my son.. so thank you!!

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  • July 2, 2019 at 8:21 pm
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    These are awesome tips and perfect for my hubs who wants to camp but has back issues. Now that summer’s here I’ll need all the ways to convince him to go in spite of his back worries.

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  • July 2, 2019 at 6:56 pm
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    Great tips! I always had back pain issue, which is why stretching and sitting comfortably when I’m on the plane is crucial. Camping with back pain however is really difficult. I don’t think I would be a “happy camper” to have to sleep in a tent if I was in pain.

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  • July 2, 2019 at 4:30 am
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    Love all the tips ! I am going to camp with my son . This should help a lot. Thanks for sharing

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  • June 30, 2019 at 5:55 pm
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    This is such a great article. I always loved idea of going camping but never actually did it. This helps me get convinced to try.

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  • June 30, 2019 at 11:46 am
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    It really is important travelling light but smart. Pack those you need most. This way we can minimize the weight on our backs.

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  • June 29, 2019 at 8:50 pm
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    This is great as I have had back issues and I have resisted camping of late because of those issues. Stretching does help out for sure. I imagine when packing you have to pack for balance as much as weight with a bad back.

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  • June 29, 2019 at 6:36 pm
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    Great tips, although sounds difficult traveling with a bad back. I like the tip of packing smarter and lighter!

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  • June 29, 2019 at 4:02 pm
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    My husband has had multiple lower back surgeries and you hit all these right on the money! Especially the part about how important it is to stretch….what feels like all the time. So necessary!

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  • June 29, 2019 at 3:25 pm
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    I always forget to stretch whether I’m at home or traveling. It truly is helpful when I take the time to do it. I usually don’t think about what I’m sleeping on until I’m having trouble sleeping. I need to also consider that before heading off on a camping trip.

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  • June 29, 2019 at 9:05 am
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    Smarter packing would be beneficial and is a must. Again packing medication to manage the pain, as there is no worse feeling than a bad back.

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  • June 28, 2019 at 10:49 pm
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    This is great! I have a bad back and it stops me from doing so much. This is very helpful.

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  • June 28, 2019 at 10:48 pm
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    I can’t even imagine hiking or camping with back pain. But then I realized that with all of your tips, it might actually not be impossible at all – especially when you already have an amazing trip planned. Thank you for the tips and encouragement!
    xx Luci

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  • June 28, 2019 at 5:32 pm
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    I think it’s important to be mindful of our bodies while also continuing to do what we love. Camping is always a little tougher than our daily lives, but it’s always good to connect back with nature! Thanks for the tips!

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  • June 28, 2019 at 1:32 pm
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    We have bought a variety of camping pads to help with our backs. We now sleep on a pad on an inflatable mattress instead of just one or the other. It is tough getting older!

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  • June 28, 2019 at 12:37 pm
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    Great idea to bring a lumbar pillow when camping. I also like the reminder to stretch before physical activity!

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