Tips for Traveling with MS

Time away with friends or family can do wonders for the soul. Just getting away from the mundane activities of everyday life can give you a more positive outlook. Gone are the days of a truly “spontaneous” trip for me. Traveling requires planning. Planning is the key for any successful trip and is crucial for those of us with a disability. There are many things that those of us with Multiple Sclerosis have to take into consideration when we travel. Spontaneity and disability don’t always partner well.

Even a trip to the country place that we love (just up the road) requires that I plan accordingly. I have to make a list to remind myself to pack all of the medicines I take regularly. Additionally, I have to remember to pack medicines that I may need for other issues that could possibly come up. There is no greater spoiler to a getaway than realizing miles up the road that you left your medication at home. Yes, I unfortunately speak from personal experience.

Communication ahead of time with the ones you are traveling with is imperative. I take a beach trip with some of my girlfriends annually. One of my friends, Teresa, has a sister with MS. She is very knowledgeable about the issues that I have. On our last trip to the beach, I had the misfortune of getting a dreaded bladder infection. Sweet Teresa delayed her morning at the beach to stay with me while I contacted my doctor and found a pharmacy that would fill my prescription. The most thoughtful gesture happened to me after we finally got to the beach. Teresa filled a plastic bucket with ice before she and I headed to meet the others. I wasn’t sure what she was doing with it because we had plenty of water in the cooler and that had already been carried down by the rest of the group. The ice, I later found out, was to cool me down when the heat became too much. Her act of kindness, making sure that I could stay cool enough to stay with the group, still warms my heart.

I am truly blessed with a great circle of friends. We recently met to plan our beach trip for June of this year. We were trying to find something economical, which often means not being on the beach side. I was overwhelmed that all of my sweet friends unanimously voted that we find one on the beach, even if it meant we had to pay more. They were all more concerned about my comfort and the ability for me to go in and get out of the heat, or just rest if necessary. That spoke volumes to the depth of our friendships.

Traveling is not always easy with a disability, but it does not mean that it is not worth it. Plan ahead. If you need a cane, a walker, or a wheelchair – don’t be embarrassed to use it! Keep a list of your doctor’s numbers in case something comes up while you are gone. Time away with family and friends to decompress is important, not only our physical health, but also our mental health.

I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well. – Theodore Roosevelt


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