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broke my arm today, anyone travel with a broken arm? tour is next month

a freak fall today resulted in a broken wrist. i'm out of town and had to go to local emergency room. will see an ortho next week when i return. if one is to break something may as well do it in a mountain town where er team has alot of experience. arm is in a cast, immobile, hence no caps here.

our trip is coming up in sept. any tips for travellng in an arm cast by those who have experienced this situation?

i will see how thick the next cast will be next week when this splint cast will be replaced. fyi: im carrying a back pack. i dont need to pre board.

thx for any tips and tricks. we are going to oktoberfest and on to boee.

Posted by
8155 posts

So sorry this happened to you!
No experience but a few suggestions.
1. Be proactive. Get a “fit to fly” letter from your physician in case the airline has any questions.
2. Think carefully about your airline seat. How can you manage your seating to insure enough space for your arm and away from where it will be bumped by others.
3. If on pain medication, make sure it won’t generate any issues at border control.
I think you will do fine on the tour. There will be a bus full of supportive individuals who will help if needed.

My hope is for quick healing for you!!!!

Posted by
5422 posts

Sorry to hear this; hopefully your wrist will heal quickly.

I’d also consider whether a rolling suitcase would work better than a backpack. I use to travel with a backpack, but at one point gave it up do to a shoulder issue. Putting the backpack on and off is difficult to do without both hands and may involve some twisting of the wrist.

Posted by
6931 posts

Hope you healing goes well and allows you to continue your fun plans!

I saw a “we” in your post. Is it possible that you could both pare down the amount of clothes and just take one combined slightly larger suitcase, so you aren’t putting any strain on your arm? Even if you had to pay for some laundry to be done during the trip, it would be worth it.

Posted by
371 posts

My sister broke her arm tripping on the steps up the cliff side in Lima a day before our Manchu Picchu and Galapagos tour began. Medical care was fast, efficient and reasonable. She was fortunate to be traveling with me and a brother and his wife. We all helped her as needed. I helped her with showering, brushing hair and dressing for about 2 days. She took over and figured out how to wash/dry hair, cover the cast so not to get wet and do most everything on the tour except touring in rain when not necessary and snorkeling. There was 3 of us to help her. The staff on the Galapagos boat were very good in helping all of us in and out of the rafts used to tour and access the islands. Sue did great on this very physical tour with the broken arm.

You will be fine on your trip, especially with practice doing every day things. Be careful not to fall. Consider a walking stick as a 3rd balance point when walking outside. I have a collapsible walking stick I always take traveling. It is not a hiking stick with a pointed end and never a problem with carryon luggage. A traveling companion can always help if needed. Sue has no problem pulling her rolling bag. Definitely travel light then you won’t feel bad about asking others for help. Consider taking advantage of pre-boarding on the outward bound flight. Don’t want anything to happen. Be sure to have the “keep your cast dry” procedure down with extra “coverings” along. You will be fine for Octoberfest.

Posted by
362 posts

I had to travel very soon after shoulder surgery and it was a challenge to not have much use of that arm - arm in a sling, no shoulder movements allowed, etc. I had to rethink my entire wardrobe so if you have to do that, at least you have time to prepare. I could only put on shirts that buttoned and forget trying to zip pants!

If you have a cast that can’t get wet, obviously take plenty of bags to cover the area while bathing. You may even have to tape the open end. A roll of the small bags that are often used in bathroom trash cans would be easy to pack.

A cross body bag might be more comfortable than a backpack. Others will offer to help you. Let them!

Posted by
226 posts

I went camping 2 weeks after breaking my wrist. My biggest problems were keeping the cast dry and using the bathroom. Buttons were very difficult. Pull on pants and shoes that didn’t require tying were helpful. I would ask the airlines to let you pre board though.

Posted by
286 posts

thx everyone. yes. it is amazing how much work your wrist does. i couldnt get my earrings off this evening! getting dressed/undressed is now a twenty minute to do. can appreciate the button comments. zippers too.

i will assess the capsule wardrobe after new cast is on. great idea for keeping cast dry. i didnt even think of that. im with my husband for this trip and he joked that this was a novel way to get him to carry my stuff.

i have walking sticks (great on hawaii lava trails-fyi). and will assess if they pass tsa. great idea.

i will see about pre boarding- good idea.

ill see if my back pack will work. its very well designed. osprey fairview for women. im actually using it on this trip. dress rehearsal. hahahaha.
thx again for the encouragement.

covid, broken bones, nothing will stop me from visiting the family homeland of ee!

Posted by
76 posts

Four years ago I broke my left hand the day before I was supposed to leave for Spain. Although the ER doctor said to go ahead, ugly cast and all, my primary care doctor was so negative about my going before I saw an orthopedic surgeon that I cancelled my flight to Spain. Two days later the orthopedic surgeon was so enthusiastic about my going on the trip that while they were putting on the permanent cast I was on the phone trying to rebook my trip (I was flying on miles on two separate one way tickets so I only had to rebook the initial flight as that was the only one that I had cancelled). I got lucky and was able to join my traveling companions for the remaining few days in Spain before moving on to Nice. I had originally planned to spend only two days on my own in Paris after splitting from my companions, but because I missed the first five days of my trip, I again got lucky and was able to add on five days Paris. The only real problem that I had on my own was cutting meat and I did take a taxi to and from CDG. I splurged on having my hair shampooed at salons. And my big discovery was that the bags that newspapers come in are perfect for covering a cast on your arm while showering. Take several. You will be fine and the cast was quite a conversation starter - “no, not the cobblestones, it was in my driveway.”

Posted by
6113 posts

I fell on ice 18 months ago and sustained a messy double wrist fracture, so I know what you are going through. It’s painful and trying to sleep with your arm up in the air isn’t easy! After the corrective surgery, I needed the cast changing three times over several weeks and a series of X-rays followed by physiotherapy every week. Everything takes so long to accomplish and there is no way I would have wanted to go away during this time and be a burden or get frustrated with myself.

You need clothes that are loose and easy to fasten and that can fit over the cast. Mine was during the winter, so finding warm loose clothing was more difficult. Don’t worry about packing light - you won’t be able to manage anything yourself most likely, even something with wheels, so a few pounds here and there isn’t going to make much difference to whoever is taking your luggage. I was surprised at how much you use both arms for most tasks, even if it’s not apparent until you are incapacitated.

I hope it heals well.

Posted by
10047 posts

Janettravels had a nasty break with her arm in a cast to her shoulder during a long trip in France. Hopefully, she’ll come along. I remember that she wore a cape. Wish you the best.

Posted by
2321 posts

Broke my arm in Hawaii and had to face thirteen flight home. Pre board gives you less chance to be bumped by others. I chose bulkhead window seat to.give me more.room. I also brought a pillow to rest my arm on, the best decision ever it brought me great relief. Be sure ortho gives you permission to fly with a hard cast. You can do it just not immediately after cast is applied as the arm can swell in flight and that is true emergency. Take your narcotics in original container. Also.use clothes with no button or zippers and use slip on shoes. With a little planning younwill be fine. someone all be glad to help you lift your stein at Oktoberfest!!!

Posted by
10857 posts

Buy a cast cover at a chain pharmacy like CVS. It is so much better than using saran wrap. I have used one for my leg injury and it cost around $25. Great invention! I hope all goes well and you can take your tour.

Posted by
1897 posts

Ouch! Is it your dominant hand? I broke my hand while on vacation in the mountains in winter, and yes it was my dominant one. That makes it much harder to do everything. As mentioned, finding clothes that are loose enough to go over a cast can be difficult. I agree with the suggestions about getting a real cast cover for showering etc. Those are lifesavers! I would definitely pre board so that you are less likely to be jostled by others while getting settled.

When I was in that cast, we were house hunting out of state and with snow/ice after a big ice storm. The thing that I remember clearly was shoes. Since we were going in and out o so many homes, my husband had to take off/put on my shoes. After that I made sure to have only ones that were slip on and no ties. You don't realize how difficult that is.

Posted by
8480 posts

Sorry to hear you’ve broken your wrist. Never fun to break a bone anywhere at any time.

As Suki noted hopeful you’ll be able to lift your stein.

Then again haven’t been to Oktoberfest in decades. Not even sure you get beer in steins anymore. One thing I do know is my Hofbrau stein is heavy. Use it to prop open a door now.

My advice: Pre board. Less jostling. Choose airplane seat where that arm and cast is protected ( aka…not an aisle seat) Check your backpack.

Don’t let this get you down. GO and enjoy yourselves!

Posted by
15817 posts

I recall that getting dressed was one of the harder things to accomplish when I broke my wrist a few years ago. Pullover tops (dressy tees and lightweight sweaters) are easier than buttons as long as the sleeves can be pulled over the cast. For pants, pull-on styles are easiest, but not tight ones like leggings, Ike shorts, or spandex workout wear (you wouldn’t take that for travel anyway). I had to quit cycling for several weeks so didn’t need the bike shorts anyway . . .

You might look at lightweight pull-on pants like these:

https://www.rei.com/product/167089/mountain-hardwear-dynama2-ankle-pants-womens

I have several pairs in Capri-length and ankle-length, and several are going to Italy with me ( we leave tomorrow and I am currently packing). They are very versatile—work for casual wear as well as hiking, and very comfortable.

A walking stick to help avoid another fall might be a good idea, but you won’t be able to use one with your casted arm—-too much weight on it and it hurts! I tried one-armed XC skiing and that didn’t work at all. But just walking with one stick might be OK.

For showering I used a used a plastic bag pulled up over the cast and secured with a rubber band, then pulled my Gore-Tex rain jacket up over that ( wore it just on that arm). It wasn’t great but it kept the cast totally dry.

Posted by
7896 posts

I had a bad elbow break in week 5 of a 10 week trip which I certainly didn't want to end and had surgery and was in the hospital 5 days in southern France (in the US it would be outpatient surgery). My biggest issue right away since I hadn't planned for it was clothes. It was warm in the south so my tank tops were enough but it was going into fall as we headed north and nothing I had that was warm would fit over my arm. I managed to fine a cheap clothing store in Auxerre and buy a couple of things. So of course you want to pack for a cast -- but you have the advantage of being able to plan that ahead.

Casts are dangerous on planes due to swelling possibilities -- of course arm less so than legs or ankles, but your doctor may want you in a strap on splint rather than a cast so you don't have a mid air crisis. By the time I flew back I was in a splint. This is something to discuss with your doctor; at 30K feet and an arm being strangled in a cast you are in real trouble. I broke a wrist about 35 years ago and had a strap on splint type cast the whole time; I would think that would be much safer on a plane.

You will want to plan airline seating so you don't have a stranger seated next to your bad arm.

Expect airline security in France to totally lack sympathy. They made me unwrap the arm which was in a splint and were totally nasty as I struggled with my baggage and then my unwrapped vulnerable arm and the splint etc. They were mad because I was holding up the line through security trying to manage the mess they had made of it. Because I had the arm to manage and my stuff it was really awkward getting my stuff together and through the process and getting the arm secured again.

With just the forearm in a cast and time to plan clothes, having bags to cover the arm during showers etc etc, it should not affect your trip much. And along the way you will meet people who will be extra helpful (not at CDG but everywhere else). The hotel people in Auxerre could not have been nicer about rushing around and getting my bags to the room and the cab driver in Paris came into our building to manage my bags

I'm sure you will have a great trip and this will just be a petty annoyance.

Posted by
2251 posts

My sister slipped on wet bathroom tiles and broke her wrist the first day of our RS Sicily tour. Emergency medical care (on a Sunday) in Palermo was efficient and excellent and our guide was a godsend. As others have mentioned, clothing was the biggest issue as she didn’t have shirts and blouses that could easily fit over the cast that came up to her elbow. She had plenty of help on the tour for anything else she needed and the only other issue was flying home from Rome and getting through security. I’m not sure if they thought she was smuggling something in her cast or not but it did take longer than expected.

Posted by
42 posts

If you haven't already have your next cast and if your injury allows it, see if you can get a waterproof cast. My granddaughter broke her little finger recently. She had a splint until she could see the orthopedic docs at which time she got a waterproof cast which goes from finger-tip to nearly her elbow. Very useful for a seven-year old whose summer camps involve swimming in lakes and the Puget Sound. The only requirement was that once she got to a facility with clean water she was directly to run water through the cast the remove any possibly nasty things in the water.

One issue she faces is fastening her seatbelt. Since we are always with her we can help her. If your airline seatbelt is problematic for you to fasten and you do not have a helper, you might ask the airline if it can switch you to a seat with a belt easier for you to buckle.

Posted by
1897 posts

janettravels--Oh my gosh yes, no sympathy in France at the airport! I took a bad fall there and ended up with knee surgery once we got home. But during the trip I was unable to bend my leg at all, even an inch. Sooo painful! My experience at CDG was awful and once I got on the plane I just cried the entire way home as it hurt so bad. My poor seat mate. They sure didn't bargain for that, but she was the sweetest lady.

Posted by
10877 posts

you might ask the airline if it can switch you to a seat with a belt easier for you to buckle.

I have never seen any difference airline seatbelts. Whether coach or biz/1st nor any variation from airline to airline.

Not understand how a different seat would be easier. What am I missing?

Posted by
2460 posts

Mo R,
Sorry to hear this but you have received lots of good ideas to help you. I’m sure you will have a wonderful tour! Take care and keep on traveling!

Posted by
169 posts

I broke my wrist two days before a winter trip to Montana. Pain meds at 7000 feet, and I rode in a dogsled with a new cast - wheee! We actually had a fine trip. Encouragement: after about a week it's much less painful. Depending on the level of swelling, you may need a cast change, so if that would be during your trip, ensure your US DR gives you what you need to get it done successfully in Europe. Finally, don't skimp on wearing your sling. A cast throws your whole body out of alignment and body aches can sneak up on you. Have fun - and think of the travel stories you can tell afterwards.