11 Tips to Take the Worry Out of Travel With MS
Lisa Emrich | June 7, 2018
Traveling can be both an exhilarating and stressful experience. Planning the logistics alone can take a lot of energy and forethought. When you live with multiple sclerosis (MS), being away from home presents its own challenges. To help you get ready for your next trip, here are some simple and inexpensive travel tips geared specifically toward helping those of us living with MS.
Stay cool without fancy equipment
One of the tough things about summertime travel is facing heat and humidity. The most versatile and packable piece of equipment I always carry a few of in my purse, pocket, or handbag is a simple gallon-sized resealable freezer bag. Asking for a scoop of ice — from a flight attendant or train station vendor — has kept me from succumbing to the effects of heat sensitivity on more than one occasion. (These bags are useful for many other travel tasks — read on!)
Pack a cooling towel
For times when ice isn’t available, pack a cooling towel. Many of these popular, economical cooling aids just need to be wetted down to activate. When you are done with the wet towel, store it for later use in one of those multi-use gallon-sized sealable bags you’ve packed along!
Bring your accessible parking hangtag
If you will be renting a car at your destination or spending time with friends or family who will be driving you around during your visit, consider bringing your accessible parking permit and your permit ID card. Just don’t forget to pack them again before you head home. If you do lose your hangtag while on vacation, you may be able to get a replacement for a small fee from the department of transportation once you get home.
Pack a folding cane
Even if you do not regularly use a cane, having one available may make the difference between participating in activities or staying back at the hotel room. A cane can provide the extra stability you need to conserve energy and maintain your balance while on the go. A folding cane that stows in your luggage, tote bag, or backpack is a lightweight mobility device that can be a lifesaver.
Bring electronic charging cords and devices
There is nothing quite so frustrating as discovering that you forgot to pack the charging cords or power adaptors for your phone, tablet, or computer. Also, consider packing a portable power bank that can be used to charge your small devices on the go. Some devices have a built-in flashlight and many are available for less than $20.
Since our bodies are composed primarily of water, it is very important to stay hydrated. Unfortunately, many environments you may encounter on vacation — airplane or hotel room — will be dry. Drinking plenty of water is essential, particularly to make sure that your urinary tract system stays healthy. You may also consider bringing a personal portable humidifier on your trip like this one that runs off USB-fueled power.
Bring backup underwear
Whether you routinely have urinary incontinence issues or experience urgency on rare occasions, it’s reassuring to have a backup pair of underwear tucked away in your bag. Store them in a resealable bag in the bottom of your purse and include a package of wet wipes. This means you’ll have supplies to help you clean up, seal-and-store wet underwear, and get back to the business of sightseeing and having fun.
Make copies of your identification
Make extra copies of your passport, driver’s license, and insurance information for international travel. Keep at least one copy separate from the original. This is particularly important if you are traveling internationally. In the event you lose your passport, the U.S. embassy may be able to issue an emergency replacement if you’ve brought an extra passport photo, too. If you’ve booked travel that caters to accessibility needs, you want to be able to stay on track and not be delayed due to lost identification.
Carry your health information
Some of the most useful notes I keep on my phone include details of my health conditions, doctors’ names and phone numbers, and current medications, including the name of each drug, the dosage, reason for taking it, and the prescriber. I keep similar lists for family members to have on hand during an emergency. Many smartphones offer applications that display emergency information on the locked home screen.
Invest in emergency identification
If you routinely travel alone, are very active away from home, or simply want to help emergency responders know details about your emergency contact and medical needs, it is a good idea to invest in an identification alert system such as MedicAlert or RoadID. Both of these companies offer a variety of wearable identification that can be connected to a subscription-based profile that contains all of your most important information.
Finally, travel light!
It can be tempting to pack luxury items to enjoy while you are on vacation — specialty body lotions, bath salts, extra books, or half your Magic commander deck collection. After returning from trips where several items were overlooked or never taken out of the suitcase, I’ve made a personal vow: If an item is something I don’t use daily, or at least several times a week during my regular life, it stays home.