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5 nurse-approved steps to holidaying with leg and varicose veins

If your vein health is less than perfect, check out our expert's tips for successful, stress-free travelling this summer

With summer upon us, it’s only natural to want to get out and enjoy the sun. However, jetting off to another country can be a little daunting if you suffer with varicose veins— even long train or car journeys can be detrimental to vein health.

Thankfully, Vanessa Livingstone, Lead Nurse at UK Vein Clinic, has some useful tips on how to enjoy a stress-free and healthy holiday…


All good holidays start with a must-pack list. When it comes to veins, compression socks or stockings should be at the top of the list, as they are an essential part of any long-haul flight – particularly those over four hours. Not only can they reduce the risk of DVT (deep vein thrombosis) while travelling, they can also help minimise post-flight swelling.

Elevating your legs can help alleviate any pressure that may have occurred mid-flight or after a long day on your feet exploring, so bundle up a beach towel for extra support while you are lounging by the pool or chilling on the balcony with your go-to holiday book.

Opting for looser fitting clothing – even down to underwear – is also advised, especially in the air as you will be more comfortable.

Checking in

If you’re concerned about whether you should fly or believe that flying could put you at risk of developing a DVT, it’s best to check in with your doctor. In most cases it’s not dangerous to fly with varicose veins, as the chance of developing a blood clot is low as long as you stick to these tips.

However, those who have suffered from a previous DVT or blood clotting disorder are more at risk so do consult a healthcare professional ahead of your trip, as flying with DVT can be life-threatening.

They may recommend that you don’t fly or advise on the best ways to help you travel safely, providing guidance on post-flight care or ways to ease discomfort abroad; they may even prescribe blood thinners to reduce any risks in-flight.


Yes you can fly if you suffer with poor veins! However, if you’ve got a long flight ahead, wearing compression socks or stockings are essential as they will provide much needed support to help increase blood flow and reduce the risk of a DVT.

If you have a family history of varicose veins or DVT, compression garments can help decrease your risks in the future. The risk of a DVT is higher if you’re overweight, a smoker or pregnant, so it’s wise to speak to a healthcare professional before you set off.

Keep the blood circulating in your legs by taking breaks to walk on the plane – as long as you’re staying hydrated, those trips to the toilet will make sure you’re moving. For the times you can’t get up to stretch, try some mini exercises such as raising your legs in your seat or foot flexes, both great to keep the blood flowing to your calf muscle which is like your second heart, and ideal if you’re seated for long periods.

Opting for an upgrade or an aisle seat will give you more space to stretch out; some airlines can even supply seats for such needs.


We all love to soak up the sun, yet sun exposure can cause thread veins due to the sun breaking down collagen under the skin.

It’s best to avoid the sun between 11AM and 4PM when it is at its hottest and you’re more likely to burn. If you’ve booked a getaway to boost your vitamin D levels, make sure that you stay safe by avoiding the hottest part of the day, wearing a minimum SPF30 sunscreen and choosing clothing that offers some protection from the sun's rays. Remember, if your skin starts to redden or burn, take cover.

Bear in mind that if you’ve recently received any type of vein treatment, you should definitely invest in a higher SPF and limit sun exposure as much as possible.


Drinking water has many health benefits, and staying hydrated is not only a must when you’re lounging on the beach for prolonged periods of time, it also helps to thin your blood making it easier for your body to get it to the right places.

Getting enough water will help to improve blood flow which in turn will maintain muscle strength, supporting your veins. Prevent dehydration by carrying a water bottle on excursions or days out to reduce the risk of blood clots and other health problems.

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