If you have Parkinson’s disease (PD), you may find the idea of planning a trip intimidating. However, travel can be made manageable – and fun!

Here are some suggestions for travelling successfully with PD:

– Plan your trip thoroughly, well in advance. Make a checklist of essential items.
– Give yourself lots of extra time at every stage of the trip.
– Make sure your medical insurance policy covers every eventuality.
– Carry the contact details of specialist doctors, as well as PD support organisations, in the area you’re travelling through. Also keep your own doctor’s name and contact details with you.
– Leave an itinerary, and a list of emergency contact details, with someone trusted at home.
– Make sure to rest well before you start your trip, and allow for sufficient rest time during your holiday.
– Make inquiries beforehand about the facilities at your hotel or other accommodation. Is it wheelchair accessible? Do they have any special facilities for people with disabilities?

Some things to remember about carrying your medication:

– Keep your medication in its original bottles, with all the details on the label. Also keep a list of your meds and dosages.
– Where possible, bring an extra supply as a back-up.
– Keep a copy of your prescriptions on you.
– Carry your medication in your carry-on bag, as well anything you normally take with your meds, like a small amount of water, juice or snacks.
– If you change time zones, carry on taking your medications according to your home time, with the same periods between doses.

At airports or stations:

– You may wish to request a special wheelchair or trolley service – for yourself, your luggage and any medical equipment you may have. (You may need a doctor’s certificate for a wheelchair.)
– Make sure to check in with plenty of time to spare.
– Make use of early boarding privileges.
– Always ask for an aisle seat, close to the bathroom.
– On request, you’ll be given assistance to embark and disembark, find your seat, stow your mobility devices and pass through customs and passport checks.
– Take advantage of extra luggage allowances for medical devices, syringes and service animals.
– If your treatment has included deep brain stimulation, you don’t need to go through electronic scanning at airports. You’ll require a doctor’s letter to this effect.

Sources:

Breslow, D., ‘Parkinson’s Onboard: Traveling with PD’, Northwestern University, National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence; Brandabur, M.M., ‘Nutrition and Parkinson’s Disease’, The Parkinson’s Institute; Parkinson’s Disease Foundation: www.pdf.org; National Parkinson Foundation: www.parkinson.org

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