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Helpful Tips To Pre-Plan Your Vacation: Ease On Down The Road

“A traveler am I and a navigator, and every day I discover a new region within my soul.”
— Kahlil Gibran

Getting ready for a vacation can carry a multitude of emotions. You can feel excited about the prospect of getting away, yet a part of you may also feel anxious and overwhelmed.

When I was younger, anxiety never entered into my realm of thought.  Now that I’m older, and because I’ve been living with a disability for most of my adult life, my anxiety levels can run high.

Yesterday, I returned from a conference for a pharmaceutical company I work for as a Peer Resource.  My husband and I decided to extend our stay after the conference by including a few extra days of visiting family and friends.

How marvelous it was to be able to attend a conference in beautiful surroundings, while meeting up with fellow advocates who have become close friends. We learned, toured and attended parties together, sharing our like-minded focus of living a life of quality despite a diagnosis of MS.

Visiting family and friends that we see once or twice a year is always a great joy to us.  We always look forward to the special time we spend together.

Living with Multiple Sclerosis can be difficult on a normal daily basis; travelling with MS can drive you absolutely crazy.

Will the change in climate cause an exacerbation? Will I have time to rest between events?  What will I do if my legs give out and I’m nowhere near a rest stop?  What if my bladder acts up and I can’t find a rest room in time?

The list can become endless.

Don’t allow your travel plans to overwhelm you.  Learn to pre-plan your trip as best as you can.  

With proper planning and a calm attitude, your vacation can be not only pleasurable, but also memorable.

Something I learned to do a long time ago was to make lists for myself in preparation for my vacation.  My list begins with a sheet of paper and a pen (how old school of me!), numbering each task I need to do to prepare for my time away from home.  You can tailor your own list to suit your specific needs:

  • Order refills for your prescriptions a few weeks prior to vacation.
  • Count out daily medications, and place them into weekly pillboxes or a medication travel pack.
  • Pack alcohol wipes, cotton balls, band-aids and needle clipper, if needed.
  • Purchase over-the-counter medicines in case of a headache, upset stomach, and sunburn or skin irritation, etc.
  • Bring a cooling pillow, armbands or vest in case of hot temperatures.
  • Carry a travel pillow, earplugs and/or eye mask with you for restful sleep.
  • Enter the names/specialties of doctors into your cell phone.  The specialty could prove helpful in case of an emergency, and others will have an easier time looking up your doctor’s name and phone number.
  • Use an app such as “AroundMe” (free from iTunes) that can instantly tell you where to find banks, gas stations, hospitals, parking, pharmacies and taxis.  It also provides a 7-day weather report. 

Planning ahead can ease the tensions you may feel about traveling with your MS.  A little effort before you leave can make a world of difference, allowing you to feel more relaxed and able to better enjoy your journey.

Where are you going this summer?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • north-star
    5 years ago

    This is an older post but summer is on the horizon again. I appreciate the list and app recommendations here! I’d like to add that airports can be tough or not. Wheelchair service can make getting to and from the plane the easiest part of your trip.

    At check-in, tell the airline that you need assistance to and from the gate, and a wheelchair will be summoned for you. At the end of the trip, another one will meet you at the arrival gate. You don’t need to be visibly impaired to use the service.

    My sister made me get a wheelchair the first time because it was making her tired watching me struggle to keep up on the walk to the terminal from the parking lot. I was horribly self conscious and I was pretty mad at her. But I watched people completely ignore me as we passed by and I laughed at myself. If I had fallen, I’d have been the most interesting sight in the terminal. We got to the departure gate in minutes, not an hour.

    The man pushing that wheelchair said I absolutely should always use the service. My sister heartily agreed. At the end, I tipped him, which made me feel better. As my sister and I waited for a cab later, I realized I was feeling great, ready to go out to eat and start enjoying the trip, not ready to take a long nap.

    Things to know: You will get a shortcut through TSA lines and help with shoes if you need it. You can hold everyone’s carryon luggage. You can request a bathroom break, in fact they usually ask if you need one. You can stay in the chair and get down to the airplane with help, or not. You’re giving someone a job in our miserable economy. And you will start your trip ready to be a full participant. Sisters know best (she would agree!)

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    5 years ago

    All useful things to know. I am so glad you added your information to this conversation!

  • Donna Pioli
    6 years ago

    I have had MS for 18 years and when I could still drive and my husband could too, vacations were a lot simpler. We also were still working so we had lots more money!
    I leave for Ca. Next week and your article came in very handy. I’m going to use
    A lot of the things you have listed.
    I have a nurse who visits me once a week and she made me a list also, so I feel
    All set.
    Thank for your helpful article.

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    6 years ago

    Thank you for your lovely comments. I am so glad you found my post helpful,and I wish you the best of luck on your vacation. I hope your pre-planning helps you to have a wonderful vacation. You deserve it!

    Thanks for much for reading my post.

    Best always~

  • Lowdramamama
    6 years ago

    I really HAVE to disagree with stukawife re: pre-planning for travel! Diagnosed w/MS IN 1984 – now have SPMS. I thankfully can still walk/stand for limited amounts of time…HOWEVER – I suffer with COGNITIVE ISSUES – and planning to travel can induce a level of stress and anxiety that is absolutely paralyzing!

    So in a calm moment days before I travel – I make my hand-written old fashioned list of stuff to take, starting with the MUST HAVES, i.e., meds; ear-plugs (I’m SUPER SENSITIVE to certain tones & volumes :/ ); OTC med in case of the dreaded bladder infection; pads in case of leakage; a compact folding cane in case of drunk-walking; my knee brace in case of knee instability (due to an epic fall!).

    And since we travel frequently to Phoenix to see my grandsons – I always take sunscreen, a wide brimmed hat, a cooling towel & cooling wipes. I really need to invest in a cooling vest & a cooling pillow (do those really work?). So I HAVE TO HAVE A LIST TO KEEP MY SANITY! And anything else I will invariably “forget” will just have to be found at a Target in Phoenix!

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    6 years ago

    Lowdramamomma (I love your name!)

    That’s why I make lists – for the cognitive issues that invariably occur, particularly at my age. You are smart to do the same. I

    I always say to do whatever works for you is the RIGHT thing to do. We are all different and have to figure out what works best for us. I am so glad you found what works for you!

    I will also be in AZ soon so I will take your lead for the cooling wipes. Great idea!

    Take good care and thank you for leaving your thoughtful comments.


  • stukawife
    6 years ago

    Alll totally useless. You act as if just because you have MS you have never traveled. I have traveled since I was 6 months old. I can make a list blindfolded. Preplanning is verr close to useless. I can plan all I want, but it won’tt leave the stress at home. You plan only to find that the place you want to go is totally inaccessible due to your wheelchair. That is information you totally leave out!

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    6 years ago

    Dear stukawife,

    I am sorry you did not find my article helpful at all.

    I have had MS for 28 years, for most of my adult life. I have had to tweak my pre-planning to include finding out about accessible travel, and to (more locally) find out where there are accessible bathrooms, ramps, elevators, etc. Pre-planning, for me, includes finding where the most accessible places are. My lists keep changing over the years for my changing needs, and at age 54 they are different than when I was 26 years old.

    There is always stress in our lives, no matter where we are. That is unavoidable. They key is how we handle it, and for me I feel better being organized, and enjoy pre-planning my vacations ahead of time. It takes the stress out of wondering whether my MS will become a problem when I reach my destination.

    We all have MS differently and all have different experiences. I covered the basics of my experience in this article. If you feel I have left out what you’d like to read about, let us know and we’ll try to address it. Better yet, you could submit your own article about your experiences with traveling.

    Thank you.


  • Marilou Hatler
    6 years ago

    I make a list, as suggested, and include my travel companion of all my plans to manage my MS so they know what I should be doing and can help me to remember. The airlines are especially helpful by letting you have an extra bag (carry on or checked) if the bag contains all medical equipment. ie C Pap, Nebulizers, Cooling eqip. etc..

  • Cathy Chester moderator author
    6 years ago

    Great additions to the list, Marilou. Wonderful. Have a great summer! Cathy

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