Traveling with MS: What You Need To Know

Last updated: April 2015

As most of you may have seen or heard, I tend to travel a bit every year to attend MS Conferences, on behalf of MSWorld’s Conference Center. I started doing this for ECTRIMS 2011 in Amsterdam, which was October 2011.

When I look back to what happened on my first time traveling, especially international trips, to how I prepare and travel now… there is a HUGE difference.

It was pretty much, learn from previous experience(s) for me. From 2011 to now, I’ve also traveled while being on different Disease Modifying Therapies for MS. I’ve also traveled during easy times with my MS and at times when my MS impacted my life a bit more than “normal”.

So I have sort of a list I go by when preparing for travel, whether it’s by car or plane, which I wanted to share with everyone.
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I don’t just travel with one bag for clothes, etc. I have a bag/suitcase that I use for my clothing, shower bag, etc., but I also have a separate bag that I have with me at all times. This bag isn’t apart of my ‘checked bag’ at the airport and it’s not in the back of my SUV (or trunk if you have a car).

So for my bag I keep with me, I include:

  • Medicine
    • This includes medicine I might need while traveling, as well as any medications I could possibly need. You never know when you might need it and having it easily accessible is a must.
      • Make sure that you have enough medication on all of your prescriptions, so that you don’t run out while you’re away.
    • Medical Card/Information
      • When I’m traveling, I usually use a different wallet/purse. So I make sure to have a Medical Information ID Card in my wallet/purse, but also another one in a front pocket on my bag that I carry. This is just in case of an emergency, but you never know when it could come in handy. It’s good to be overly prepared for any emergency situations.
        • I also have the “American Medical ID” Necklace & Charm… this is also just in case.
      • Hand Sanitizer
        • I’ve talked about this in my blog, “Tis’ the Season”… I don’t want to be miserable on my trip because I picked up somebody’s nasty germs and got sick. Use it often!
      • Travel Pillow/Blanket
        • Yes, I know that certain airlines offer pillows and blankets, but do you know where that stuff has been? I don’t… and I don’t want to find out. So I bring my own, thin/comfy blanket, so it doesn’t take up too much room.
      • Electronics (and chargers)
        • Is it a pain to keep this with me at all times? Yes it can be. But I don’t want my electronics to be left in my checked bag and tossed around during transfer. I do have a rolling bag for traveling by plane, this way I’m not carrying a heavy bag on my shoulder. Also, having my computer/iPad & phone w/ me at all times, I know I won’t get bored.
          • Mind you, I have a Macbook Air & iPad Mini, so they aren’t very heavy to begin with.
        • Folder for Travel Information
          • I always have a printed-paper of my hotel confirmation, flight confirmation, etc. This way I don’t have to search for this information in my e-mails, etc.
            • Apps on my phone: I have a lot of travel apps, this way I have a lot of the information I might need on my phone.
          • Cane
            • In the past, I’ve had to travel with a cane. The first time I did this, it was just a normal cane that you see at your local pharmacy. That was BIG. I now have a cane that can be folded, this way I can put it away when I don’t need it. (By the way, I don’t just want to have a plain looking cane, I like it to have a design… so if you’re like me, look up fashionable canes on the internet.)

Now, when it comes to what I include in my suitcase… I know I’m a girl, so you’re thinking oh goodness; this is going to get complicated. Now, my first time traveling, there was a lot of stuff in my luggage but I’ve come to figure out some things that make it a bit more organized and easier.

You know those infomercials you see on the TV that are usually VERY annoying or pointless?? Well they aren’t all like that. I got me some “Space Bags” to use when I’m going to be gone for a while and need more clothes than usual. Using the vacuum packed bags really helps make room in my suitcase for more clothing. But this can be a problem with the ‘weight limit(s)’ that some airlines have, so be sure to check what your limit is. I have one of those ‘luggage scales’ now, so I don’t have to pay overage fees, or move things around to different bags. (Now, I didn’t actually order the “Space Bags” from TV… I found that my local store had a similar product, so check that out!)

It’s also hard to plan accordingly with your wardrobe just by looking at the forecast for your destination, because we all know that those aren’t 100% accurate!

Now what do I wear to the airport? Comfy clothes! I’m not going to see any of these people ever again while traveling most likely, so I dress for comfort, not style: Easy shoes, sweatpants or jeans w/ no belt, T-shirt & sweatshirt. This way I don’t set anything going off when I go through security. Yes, even if it’s not cold where I’m going, I take a sweatshirt, cause it gets cold on planes, etc.

If you’re going on an international flight, make sure you have some foreign currency on hand before you leave the U.S. – Most airports have places to do this.

Oh – make sure you let your bank and phone carrier know that you are traveling and where to, so that there are no complications. If your phone carrier doesn’t have coverage where you’re going, get one of those pay-as-you-go phones.

DON’T FORGET YOUR PASSPORT/IDENTIFICATION! And don’t forget to have enough room in your bag for souvenirs! Be sure to have enough time to get from point A to point B. Most airports/airlines offer assistance to those who have a disability, like MS. Do NOT be stubborn like I have been in the past. If you need it… use it. Don’t wear yourself out!

Hope this helps y’all out! I’m sure I forgot something, go figure… so be sure to comment with your own tips!


Ashley Ringstaff

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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.

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