Vibrating car seat

Usually sold as car seat 'massagers', they don't really massage but vibrate. They plug into your car's 'cigarette lighter' power plug, and can help on car journeys to help aches and pains you get when sitting in a car.

Try to get one with a range of programs so you can vary which parts vibrate. Some also come with heat, although I find the heat usually isn't noticeable.

 

Lightweight computer equipment

chromebook

If you're regularly travelling with a laptop bag stuffed with a heavy, old laptop, charger and all the rest, looking for light weight models can make a big difference. You might even be able to find a lighter carry case - every gram of weight lost will help.

If all you need is to be able to access the web using an internet browser, respond to email, edit documents and other simple tasks, you might be able to get away with using a smaller less-powerful laptop, a netbook or even a chromebook.

Chromebooks may not be suitable depending on what you do, so it's important to do some research. A quick summary is:

Chromebook pros

  • limited functionality compared to normal laptops, so make sure it can do everything you need it to do
  • essentially provides you with a web browser and not much else, meaning you can check emails, search the web, edit documents (using a cloud service such as Google Docs or Microsoft Office Online), watch videos, video-conference. You cannot install 'normal' PC / desktop applications like Office or Photoshop you might have purchased years ago in a shrink-wrapped box, so make sure there are online or 'chrome' alternatives to what you need (have a look in the Chrome Web Store - everything in there can be installed on a Chromebook).

Chromebook cons

  • Lightweight (most are between 1-2 kg, laptops are usually well over 2kg unless you get a very expensive one)
  • Inexpensive
  • Long life battery (you can probably go the whole day without charging)

If the disadvantages of a Chromebook are a deal breaker, look for lightweight laptops. Unfortunately these are usually much more expensive, but look out for a lower powered or second-hand version which may be suitable and under your budget. Talk to your employer about what you need and what they might be prepared to spend. See Talking to your employer for more on this.

Laptop raiser, keyboard and mouse

applekeyboard

If you're going to spend any more than 20 minutes at a time using your laptop when travelling to somewhere which doesn't have ergonomic furniture, you might want to pack a laptop raiser, and a separate keyboard and mouse, so you can set yourself up with a raised laptop screen (so you don't have to crane your neck to look down all day), and a separate mouse and keyboard you can plug-in to your laptop. Look for small, lightweight versions. I personally like Apple keyboards, which are thin and have a light aluminium case (but be aware that some keys are in the 'wrong' place on an Apple keyboard if you're using it with a non-Apple machine).

Use a rucksack

laptoprucksack

Laptop bags often have a single over-the-shoulder strap, which can become uncomfortable very quickly if your shoulders are stiff and aching.

Try using a rucksack instead to spread the load evenly across both shoulders when on the go. There are many types of rucksacks available designed for carrying laptops, with special padded sections to keep your computer equipment safe.

Instant ice / heat packs

icepack

Heat and cold are great for relaxing and soothing the aches and pains of AS.

You can have this on the go using instant ice and heat packs which do not need putting in the fridge or the microwave - they work simply by giving the pack a good squeeze (or some have a kind of button you press) which triggers a chemical reaction inside the pack to produce either heat and cold.

Most are one-use only, although some instant heat packs can be used again after boiling them in a pan of water and allowing to cool. Because of this they aren't suitable for daily use (get a microwaveable one for that), instead best kept for those bad days or if you have a bit of a flare up while out and about. Keep some in the car glovebox, in a desk drawer or somewhere ready for when you need it. Just be careful not to accidentally trigger the mechanism - they're probably not suitable for a handbag or somewhere they might get knocked around.

You can also get very thin sticky one-use heat pads which you can stick directly onto your skin wherever you need, which give a gentle warmth for up to a few hours - try one or two of these on a cold day or if you're feeling especially stiff in the morning.