The difficulties of Parkinson's disease don't have to interfere with traveling, which should be an enjoyable experience and not limited or avoided because of the disease. But planning ahead is key to avoid these difficulties. The following guidelines should help to make your next trip anxiety-free.
Tips for Traveling With Parkinson's Disease
- Always try to travel with a companion.
- Place the names of your doctor, insurance company, emergency contact, and medications in your wallet or purse.
- Carry identification stating that you have Parkinson's disease.
- Use a "fanny" pack or backpack so that you have both hands free to balance as you walk, especially if walking any distance.
- Pack snacks and carry a water bottle to take medications.
- Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and good walking shoes.
- When making hotel reservations, request a room on the ground floor or near an elevator. Ask if they have rooms that are handicapped-accessible; these usually include grab bars in the shower and bathroom and have wider spaces between furniture for wheelchair access.
Traveling With Parkinson's Medications
- Always have at least a day's dosage of medication in your pocket or purse.
- Try to carry all of your medications with you, in the event that your luggage gets misplaced.
- Pack enough medications to last the entire trip.
- Do not rely on out-of-town, or especially out-of-the-country, pharmacies for refills.
- Check with your doctor about any over-the-counter drugs, such as those for motion sickness or diarrhea, before you leave.
- Find out if your medications are "sun-sensitive" and plan accordingly.
- Carry a list and schedule of medications with you.
- If possible, use a watch with an alarm or an alarm pillbox. If you are traveling with time changes it may be difficult for you to remember on your own.
Travel by Car
- Many Parkinson's medications can cause drowsiness, particularly after eating. If you are driving, take a nap before you go and avoid eating for two to three hours before departing.
- Do not overestimate your abilities. While you may be capable of driving short distances to and from home, a longer road trip may require much more stamina. Either break the trip up into shorter distances with frequent stops, or share the driving with someone else.
Travel by Air
- Request a non-stop flight and an aisle seat.
- Check as many bags as possible, but remember to keep your medications in your carry-on.
- Use airport shuttles, or ask for a wheelchair if your gate is a far distance.
- Ask for early seating for a few extra minutes to board and get comfortable.
- Use the bathroom before you get on the plane. Airplane bathrooms are often small and not handicapped-accessible.
- If you are on a restricted diet, request a special meal in advance.
Travel by Bus or Train
- Wheelchair lifts are generally available for entrances and exits.
- Seats can generally be removed to accommodate wheelchairs.
- Try to get an aisle seat near the exit to make getting on and off easier.