Spring break is fast approaching and many of us especially those of us with children look forward to this time of year to being able to travel as a family. Sometimes you even get to chaperone for fun on school excursions just as an excuse to see the world through their eyes! However, even though it now takes me longer to pack my medications than it does my actual clothes and toiletries, I still enjoy traveling whenever possible….( still have a million meds to pack- need a bigger bag just for this but could not do it with out my trusty world travel -diva bag!)
So, here a few tricks to make traveling a bit easier and not such an ordeal.
Of course, it takes more planning than it once did since traveling with PD is a lot more complex than if we did not have a chronic illness. Don’t be discouraged it can be done but don’t forget to keep in mind destination climate and time of year. We not only have to keep track of our meds but we also have to be conscientious of the temperature and other weather conditions in the areas of our destination because believe it or not extreme weather can make our symptoms worst as I am sure many of you already know.
Always carry a letter from your neurologist stating your diagnosis and medication list. This might avoid extra scrutiny or people thinking you are either drunk or mentally challenged.
Always keep on hand your PD specialist phone number and how to reach after hours. Don’t forget the countries area code when calling if traveling outside of the US.
Always keep your medications with you, that’s one piece of luggage you cannot afford to do without – trust me I know. Carry some extra in case you spill. I have a tendency to do this as many of you can relate, I am certain; also in case there are delays to your travel plans due to weather, illness, etc. Plus, carry a prescription and letter from your doctor in case you need or someone gives you hassle for carrying so many pills. I never had this problem but is best to be prepared just in case. Put your medicines in small plastic containers or bottles you can get from pharmacy or in a large pill box depending how long you will be away from home.
Pace yourself, listen to your body. You know it better than anyone else. Try to keep routine and medications at same time – if traveling abroad, stay with the new time zone in keeping with medicine intake. Choose activities wisely and allow for down time. If planning on climbing Machu Picchu do at the end of trip so can recover at home and on plane on way back.
Leave the ego at home. Fortunately, we now have so many tools at our disposal, please make use of them this includes folding canes with height adjustment, wheelchairs, laser canes, disposable undergarments, you name it. Don’t pay any heed to those staring who do not understand what we have to go through.
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good travel companion especially if venturing out of comfort zone or internationally. A good friend or companion can be a god send when you need an extra pair of legs or hands. Trust me, when I suddenly freeze because my back gives out from the rigidity of my axial muscles it is nice to have a plan ahead and a person to lean on to help walk with me to prevent falling and to retrieve my luggage is an absolute gift.
Mentally notice all bathrooms especially when traveling internationally do not pass a good one since these are hard to find. Remember many charge to use the facilities as well as for the toilet paper. So carry your own toilet paper. Also most all older countries like Italy have only one bathroom for both sexes and toilets are really low with no toilet seats so a good companion not only will help to stand guard but can aid you in going to the bathroom.
1. Remember a lot of us have bladder issues so keep a mental note of location in case you have to hustle back but if don’t think can do this that’s what undergarments are for. There is an app to help locate restrooms but beware of international roaming fees.
ESPECIALLY IF TRAVELING Outside of US or remote areas have your doctor give you prescriptions for Apomorphine in case need it ( make sure you know how to use and what to expect before using- the company now has 24hour hotline to assist),take sleeping pills, muscle relaxants, and pain meds like Vicodin. As well as anti-inflammatories in my experience a Tylenol plus a Motrin go along way for relieving most pain.
When making reservations try using an agent that has dealt with booking trips for people with disabilities. Always purchase travel insurance best if you buy insurance from third party rather than travel agent or cruise ship. (AIG Travel Guard).
Consider the climate of country where traveling- if during hot weather consider investing in a cooling vest. Consider Alaska in summer, Europe in fall, and Caribbean in winter.
I also recommend a cruise, I am not a big fan of being in the middle of the ocean but a nice river cruise may just be what the doctor ordered. Smaller, easier to navigate has all the amenities at your disposal plus if you can tired or fatigued you can just go lay down. Plus, there is a doctor on board!
Don’t Forget to Have fun! In light of the fact that our Parkinson’s is progressive we want to enjoy life while we can so go on that trip you always wanted now rather than later. CARPE DIEM!!!
all rights reserved by Maria De leon MD
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