Travel safely with varicose veins


For the first time in the past year, we can dream again about traveling and can think about planning trips in 2021.

Even though more and more people throughout the world are being vaccinated against Covid-19, travel is expected to look different with restrictions and guidelines. But at least there is hope for those with wanderlust that they soon will be able to move about in the world.

Long-distance travel – whether it is a multi-hour car trip up the California coast or the 12-hour flight from San Diego to London – has its challenges, even without the complications that Covid-19 has brought to our world. Airplane seats are cramped, leg room is minimal at best and the plane’s aisles are narrow. As for cars, new models are smaller as manufacturers focus on fuel economy and emissions.

Trips involving hours of sitting present health risks, especially for those who live with varicose veins.

Deep Vein Thrombosis, DVT, which is the development of a blood clot in the legs that can travel to the lungs, is a primary concern for all travelers. Varicose vein sufferers are at a greater risk for DVT and should be careful to take the necessary steps to eliminate potential problems.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize the risk of complications from varicose veins while traveling.

  • Before you walk on the plane, put on a pair of compression socks. I realize these are hard to get on and can feel constricting at first. However, when you step off that airplane after a very long flight, your legs will feel good and there will be little (if any) swelling at the ankles. Compression socks keep the blood in your lower extremities circulating instead of pooling at the ankles. There are various types of compression socks to choose from, so discuss with your doctor which compression stocking is best for you.
  • Get up and move! Whether you are traveling by car or airplane, get up and move around once every hour or so. Moving around forces the blood in your lower half to circulate from your feet to your heart and your brain.
  • When booking a flight, consider spending the money to upgrade your seat. Maybe you don’t want to pay for first class, but some airlines offer premium seating that offers additional leg room and slightly wider seats for a reasonable upcharge.
  • Drink water and plenty of it. Traveling is dehydrating, particularly air travel. Snacks tend to be the food of choice during travel, and prepackaged snacks are filled with salt and sugar. Salt and sugar lead to dehydration. Water is the beverage of choice for healthy veins, and that means limit beverages with high sugar content and alcohol.
  • Wear comfortable clothing. Do not wear your tight-fitting jeans, instead choose loose clothing that allows your blood to flow unrestricted and do not place pressure on your legs and feet.
  • Skip the sleeping aid. Taking a sleeping aid will help you sleep, but it will keep you from getting up and moving around. Discuss homeopathic choices for staying calm and peaceful with your doctor.
  • Take care of varicose veins before your travel schedule is filled. Not only will your legs look great at the beaches in Princeville, but you will feel good about maintaining a healthy vascular system.

Dr. Van Cheng is a Harvard University educated medical doctor who specializes in treating venous concerns and can discuss your treatment options with you. Dr. Cheng is located at 336 Encinitas Boulevard, Suite 130, Encinitas, CA 92024. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (760) 944-9263 or visit