International Travel with MS

I love to travel, and ordinarily I do it with my husband, which means we do it at our own pace and in our own way.  Often we rent a car at our destination and just drive, stopping for the local sights I’ve found in advance or just meandering and pausing when something catches our attention. It allows us to pace our travel according to my MS.

Taking on a different corner of the world

My casual style of travel had to be abandoned for an international MS advocacy trip and for a change, my husband is staying at home. Instead, Kristin, our adult daughter, is going with me as my helper and is in charge of making sure I get where I need to be. She has taken on the research for our trip to the south of France to make sure we get the most out of our time, while understanding the limitations thanks to my MS. I’ve asked her to share what she has hunted for while researching our time in Nice and beyond. Here is what she shared in advance of our travels:

Making the most of our time

Traveling as an adult with my mother takes on a new meaning when we face the challenge of also traveling with MS. I know she has limitations physically and while she is blessed to be able to be mobile, we still have to conserve her energy. I have done a touch of research to make our trip more enjoyable and to be able to conquer any challenges we may face. Luckily Nice's tourism board gives aid to non-French travelers such as a handicapped accessible guide for tourists with disabilities.

This guide also gives a listing of public bathrooms. When I read over the French toilet information I found, I was a bit over and underwhelmed. We may have to stop in a Café and buy a croissant to use a better toilet or take our chances at the public coin-fed pottys on the street. Luckily mom has botoxed her bladder, and I will likely be the one needing a stop before her. Public bathrooms are the big mystery going into this so I am keeping my fingers crossed that we have enough info to get by.

Planning for the unexpected

I have also thought about the possibility of fatigue striking my mother without warning and looked into easy ways for us to motor back to our hotel at the drop of a dime. Happymoov is a rickshaw company in France that is very much like Uber or Lyft here in the states. I have their app on my phone so we can easily maneuver the city and was happy to learn that they even have a way to transport folding wheelchairs on the back of the Rickshaw while passengers inside enjoy the ride.

I have put together airplane travel kits which include lotion, flushable wipes, face wipes, toothbrushes and tooth paste and just a few other items that may refresh ourselves over fourteen hours of travel.

Our small group tour we have planned transports no more than eight people so we will be comfortable over the 8 hour trip through the hills of France and into Monaco. Small group sounds a lot better than a bus load – especially when needing a bit of flexibility on movement. I am not expecting mom to climb any hillsides, so we may ask the tour operator to skip those stops if any come our way. I am hoping for the personal touch to ensure a full day of fun and not being beat up by the end.

It has been 25 years since she and I have been on vacation together and I hope that through a lot of research and a bit of patience – she enjoys my company as her travel partner and we are prepared for an adventure together!

Different times, different needs

We haven’t traveled together as a mother daughter duo since Kristin was in junior high, and I was the person making the plans. This time the roles are reversed and I must admit it makes me happy to know she has learned so much about travel and MS.  We’re off to have a great time and you can watch for our highlights and any tips we pick up that make international travel easier for both a person with special needs and their care partner.

Wishing you well,

Laura (and special guest writer Kristin)

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