Here are some tips and tricks to consider as you prepare for your upcoming travel.
Think about what makes you and the people you are traveling with most comfortable.
Try taking short trips to gauge reactions to changes in routines. Then build your travel plan with these tips in mind.
- Create a packing list early
- Keep a daily log for one to two weeks of equipment, supplies, and medications you regularly use.
- Pack EXTRA OF EVERYTHING!
- Pack in properly labeled bottles
- Bring a medication list including generic and brand name (if applicable)
- Bring your physician’s name and contact information
- Pack EXTRA meds!
- Discuss with your physician medicinal options if expecting heightened anxiety/agitation
- Check out our safety planning workbook for more information.
- If your loved one gets anxious seeing you pack- pack when they are asleep.
- Pack an extension cord because outlets tend to be in inconvenient spots that may not be suitable for your equipment.
- Ask your doctor to recommend a neurologist at your destination. aan.com lists certified neurologists everywhere in the world.
- Research the closest pharmacy to where you are staying and update your doctor with this information.
- Try to bring a support person or two if available.
- Purchase travel insurance or look for refundable transportation and lodging.
- Check your medical insurance coverage and locate local facilities that are covered.
- Hotels/sights- contact ahead of time to make sure they can meet your needs.
- Speak with someone at the location - not a national customer service line.
- Instead of asking if they are “accessible,” ask specifics regarding their handicapped accessible rooms. If you’re bringing a wheelchair, ask how wide is the room and bathroom doorframe. Find out if there is a wheel-in shower or if the tub has grab bars.
- Make sure your loved one always has identification on them- bracelet, shoe medical alert, life alert (gps), I have HD card.
- If there are swallowing or choking concerns, consider bringing a mini bullet to soften foods on the go.
- Consider traveling with a choking rescue device such as LifeVac.
- Additional Resources
- Alert airlines to your special needs. Tell them if you need wheelchair assistance and/or help with getting on and off the plane. Full-sized wheelchairs won’t fit onto a plane.
- TSA has a website about their health-related policies to help you plan for bringing equipment, medication, etc: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures
- Choose flights that will cause the least amount of anxiety (example- fewest stops or layovers).
- Request to be placed close to the bathroom and possibly double up on briefs for additional support.
- If there is a high risk of an emergency, request a seat closer to the front of the plane.
- Request to be seated in a row with an empty seat if extra space is needed.
- Bring a Mighty Mug or other spill-proof cup so that fluids are always available.
- Bring plenty of snacks no matter how short the flight is.
- Bring entertainment to keep your loved one calm and occupied.
- Locate bathrooms along your route and stop for schedule pit stops- even if your loved one (or you) do not think they need to go.
- Locate restaurants or bring food for meals and snacks .
- Hotel restrooms are recommended because the lobby bathroom is guaranteed to be ADA compliant.
- If bathroom accidents are a concern, discuss using briefs for the car ride for a little added protection and schedule frequent stops.
If your loved one does not wear a seatbelt, learn the laws of the states you are traveling in to find out if medical excuses are allowed.
If taking the train, bus, or subway:
- If balance is a concern, help your loved if they need to get up during the ride.
- Contact the train or bus prior to travel to learn how they can accommodate your loved one’s needs. Subway apps can tell you which stops have elevators and are handicapped accessible.
- Do not try to do too much in a day. Leave time for breaks and remain flexible.
- Stay hydrated!
- If you’re in a hot location you may need more rest and liquids than usual. Fruits and veggies with high water content (leafy greens, celery, berries, melon, cucumber, tomatoes, apples, clear soups/bone broth) are great for staying hydrated and satiated. You can also add fruits or veggies to disguise the taste of water. Try to remain calm if an emergency occurs.
- If your loved one wanders off contact the local authorities or emergency services.
Remember you can’t control everything so staying flexible and well rested will make the travel experience more fun and memorable for everyone.