As I write this post I am airborne, on my way to a short vacation in Florida to celebrate my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary. I don’t enjoy flying. The turbulence scares the hell out of me. But I do it anyway because I love to travel, particularly when it’s for a joyous occasion such as this one.
I’ve always loved to travel. As children, we read books that carry our imagination away to different times and far off places. In movies, we are drawn into sometimes dreamy or even scary places, transporting us to places we may never have the chance to visit. (As an aside, I highly recommend renting any film by Director/Producer/Editor David Lean and his epics Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago or Bridge on the River Kwai, as well as the gorgeous romance “Summertime” that took place in the city of Venice. They are each a feast for the eyes.)
When you have a chronic illness like MS, it’s not always easy to travel where your heart desires. Getting from your home to your final destination can be exhausting, if not impossible. The amount of walking necessary to go sightseeing can be overwhelming. I remember when my husband and I vacationed in Italy. It was a beautiful and exciting trip, but my legs didn’t cooperate with all I wanted to accomplish. Europe is not exactly accessible. As an example, think about the Spanish Steps in Rome – I’d seen that spot photographed many times and imagined myself climbing them with ease. Think again. I was – gasp – absolutely – gasp - and positively – gasp – weak at the knees after climbing them. It was definitely worth the climb. But boy did I pay the price! That night I must’ve slept 12 hours!
It’s true that I have RRMS, and some of you reading this may be thinking how blessed I am that I can travel at all, so I shouldn’t complain. You’d be correct; I am blessed. However, I’ve also had to change the amount of traveling I can do, and plan around activities I cannot do. I have to include time for naps in my plans. I can’t walk the same distances I used to be able to. I have to be careful not to remain in the sun for too long. I also need to be careful not to be outside during frigid weather. In general, I need to do my sightseeing in the morning hours when I feel stronger.
So here is my Question of the Week: How do you handle any traveling you do? Do you think there are enough accessible accommodations available for people with disabilities while traveling? As part of MS Awareness Month, I hope you will share your stories, tips and advice about traveling with a disability so we can all learn from each other.
Here are some helpful websites about traveling with a disability: