Traveling Tips Part 2: by Maria De Leon

” Once a year, go someplace you have never been before (and discover its beauty & wonder)” Dalai Lama & MDL

It seems that since my diagnosis all of our trips and outings are punctuated by mishaps caused by my illness. The great thing is that it is these misadventures which have united us as a family and created lasting bonds. Our trips are now referred by my daughter and husband according to the nickname given to that particular event. We now have a growing list of funny stories which pivot around me and my physical state at the time of our excursions. For instance, we have the Renaissance debacle of 2010, the birthday bus tour of 2018, and lastly the French flop of 2019 to name but a few.

Here are some of the things that all of these misadventures has taught us:

1) You cannot plan in advance every minute of a vacation trip like when we were young or healthier. Do you know how many times we have lost money because we have not been able to keep reservations due to my Parkinson’s? We have decided that we end up losing more money if we try to save money up front by purchasing tickets ahead rather than waiting to day of event. If we wait to the time of event we are 100% certain we will be able to attend because those of us who live with PD and any other chronic illness- symptoms can fluctuate moment to moment (which drives me absolutely batty even now).

2) We no longer go on tours where there is a fix schedule of pick up and drop off unless it is something extra special and only one per vacation trip. This requires planning, loading up on medications and carrying everything under the sink that you can possibly need during that time such as migraine and nausea medications, disposable undergarments, etc. Of course this also means that upon your return you must allow plenty of time to recover and rest.

3) When making reservations or traveling –make sure to see if money is refundable. Ask about their rules we like using Viator Tour Groups because you can cancel up to 24 hours before event with full refund. Plus, in the past when I have been absolutely unable to make an activity due to health issues they have worked with me to either reschedule or get refund. Furthermore, they have tours all over the world which is convenient. We have used them for years and always been very pleased. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for others we have tried along the way causing some monetary losses.

4) When choosing mode of transportation and hotel don’t go for what is most economical because in the long run you may end up paying more if your symptoms worsen or exacerbate due to accommodations and travel experience. I suggest getting insurance for flights and always book directly with hotels rather than using a third party as I have learned recently. I always call personally the hotels which I believe is best policy. But, during the holidays I wanted to use my reward points and accidentally got transferred to a third party who booked my room. Fortunately, I had already booked another room directly so when I had to cancel because of my flaring pancreatitis, the hotel management had no problem refunding me the money. However, the third party even with a doctor’s note refused initially but because I had rapport with staff directly I was able to persuade third party Company to refund me the money as well. So always ready the fine print and book directly – they usually will help if have any reward points etc.

5) Stay in locations near the center of activity – here you will often find most of what you need should you forget something or have a medical emergency. You should always get medical insurance especially when traveling abroad.

6) Pick and choose activities and prioritize so that you can make the most out of your trip. Even when I do all above it still takes me a day or two to recuperate. It used to take me a week or more when I did not set limits or boundaries and took off running as soon as I hit the ground. Now my family and I are much happier. We realized that quality is better than quantity!

Following these tips, I and my family have found to have not only a more enjoyable traveling experience, less stressful as well as not as pricey because we are not frittering money away. That money instead can be used in upgrades should you choose. Plus, you will find that when you are rested and relaxed you will not only have a better time overall as well as incur less injuries.

This summer I encourage all of you to enjoy the great adventure which is our life!


All rights reserved by Maria De Leon MD


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