A woman dressed to travel stands near her car with a mobility aid and a suitcase

The Art of Traveling with MS

You’re either wondering what is he thinking, or you are remembering the trip to that amazing location turning into, "What do I do now?" Just traveling these days is full of challenges, delayed flights, overbooking, and hours getting through security.

With any illness, including MS, traveling can be rough and is an art of planning, foreseeing the unexpected, and knowing where to obtain those much-needed items.

Planning for what and why

Most travelers plan where to go and what to wear weather-wise. The quick pack and run (oh those were the days). These days it is researching where medical facilities are, what meds to bring, what to bring in case our stay is extended, and what I can bring or cannot bring on the plane.

There are a host of considerations while traveling within the U.S. and several other considerations while traveling abroad. I’ll begin with what I look at while traveling in the U.S. and abroad that is key to me and you might consider as well.

Let’s ponder what, where, and why

Yes, I am one of those folks who plan for almost everything that could happen or take place while traveling. So much so that I tend to drive Ofelia, my wife, a bit crazy and the travel agent for overseas trips asking, "What if?"

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Where to begin, you ask? I divide my planning into subcategories starting with medical, which is my biggest, followed by transportation, then personal needs.

When it comes to medical, I have a few health issues I need to plan for. This includes medication and possible medical assistance. My plans will look at how to order medication, where to order, and having a current prescription for each. In addition, I’ll have an explanation for the medication and a list of my doctor contacts for each.

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Knowing where to find medical devices and facilities

Next, I’ll locate medical facilities that specialize in the health issues I deal with such as MS, Afib, arterial repairs, bladder issues, as well as an overactive thyroid. A good place to start is consulting with your medical teams treating these concerns or checking with your insurance company, which can look up facilities in the areas they cover.

If you need medical devices, which I do, plans may also include where you can obtain these devices and have the devices repaired if needed. In my case, I have balance issues and a nonfunctioning bladder. I’ll plan for how many catheters to bring, and where can I order if needed. As far as my balance, I will plan to bring my cane, know where to order a new cane if needed, and where to rent or purchase a rollator, just in case.

Other areas to consider in general are the type of transportation you’ll require, which may depend on personal devices, the need for a service dog, and any documentation if needed. As an example, airlines might ask for a U.S. DOT form defining the health, behavior, and training received for your service dog. Be sure to check with the airlines regarding any medical carry-on devices or support you may need.

Considerations for overseas

When it comes to overseas travel, there are a few more specifics to look at and plan for. The areas I look at are if your medical insurance will be accepted or if purchasing a medical care insurance policy is best. Next, how to get access to your medical records in case a healthcare provider needs to review your history.

You can bring an electronic copy with you, or some companies combine your complete medical records with access via the internet. One company I know of is PicnicHealth, which provides access to your medical records. Their service has worked great for me over the years.

Lastly a smile and a laugh

Living with MS we all have our challenges. At times we shake our heads and stand in silence since we forgot what we were looking for or going to do. I saw a rather funny poster with a comment from Snoopy, yes Snoopy the dog.

The poster shows Snoopy walking along with the caption that said, “I finally did it, bought a pair of shoes with memory foam insoles. No more forgetting why I walked into the kitchen.” Oh I have to say been there done that, and I am thinking about a pair!

Thanks again for reading the article, and I hope this will help with your planning and adds a little value to your next trip. I look forward to hearing your approach to planning travel so we can learn from you. I appreciate you taking time out of your busy day, and I challenge everyone to spread a little kindness to make someone’s day a bit better.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net 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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