Stress and anxiety can be a big trigger for many people's motor symptoms. Traveling can be stressful, so understanding how to best plan your travels can help mitigate stress. From knowing how to organize your itinerary, what to make sure you prioritize with packing, or how to make your time in the airport as efficient as possible, we have you covered. Here are some tips for traveling to help you get ready for this summer!
Tips for planning your trip
Give yourself more time with the layover. Some people may choose a layover that is several hours long. It gives them enough time to fully recover and rest up. If a flight is delayed, rushing to the next terminal can be challenging. Having a bigger layover can be really helpful.
Consider planning your travel around the time of day you move best, or at least avoiding the times that you know you are not moving at your best.
Give yourself a rest day after traveling. You may feel fine, but in the event that you don't, having that rest day can be a life savor. Make sure you are not piling so many activities all in one day when planning an itinerary. Back to back full days can really trigger fatigue and possibly worsen symptoms.
The limit of one carry-on bag and one personal bag (purse) per traveler does not apply to medical supplies and/or assistive devices, so don't force these objects into your bag! However, it can be challenging to have more than one bag to carry.
Pack light! A heavy suitcase can really drain your energy, so make sure you are comfortable carrying any suitcase.
Tips for medication
Have your medication schedule written out. If you are traveling between time zines, make sure you are planning a consistent schedule as your body won't realize the time is different. The Parkinson's Foundation put together this printable schedule for medications.
Bring a copy of all of your prescriptions and make sure to include your physician’s name and contact information.
Have your travel partner carry an extra dose of your medications. Bags unfortunately get lost all the time so having someone with an extra dose can really come in handy.
Have all of your medications in the original Rx bottles with labels. This can make security go by much faster if you are ever searched.
Get a letter from your doctor if you are taking any liquid medications (the gel form of carbidopa/levodopa for the Duopa pump).
Make sure you have extra medication. Not just for a day or two, but a couple of days! Flights can get cancelled or plans can change. Make sure you have enough in case your return trip home is delayed.
Keep your medication on you or in your carry on bag in the event a checked bag goes missing.
Tips for at the airport
With TSA PreCheck, you can experience a smoother screening process. You will not need to take your shoes off, take your belts off, take your liquids or laptops out of your back, or remove light jackets. How awesome is that!
In April 2023, 89% of TSA PreCheck® passengers waited less than 5 min.
More than 200 airports and 85+ airlines provide TSA PreCheck®
TSA PreCheck costs $78 for five years
Clear allows you to skip the security line completely. When you get to the airport, you approach a Clear kiosk where your ID and boarding pass are verified through biometric technology. This process is fast and once it is complete, you will be escorted to the front of security. No waiting required!
Clear costs $189 per year
Ask for a wheelchair. Even if you do not need one, when you are using a wheelchair you are hurried through the busy lines faster than others. You will need a physician's written “certificate of need” to be able to use a wheelchair or scooter in the airport.
If you are technology savvy, check in prior to leaving for the airport. Many airlines will provide you with an electronic copy of your boarding pass. This can help skip lines at the kiosks or desks to get your physical ticket.
Tell the airport that you have PD. You may be able to board the flight early and get settled without so many people around you.
Tips for when on the plane
Drink lots of water while you are in the air! If you experience low blood pressure, dehydration can really increase these symptoms.
Bring your own silverware if you need specialized ones. Consider bringing a nonslip mat to go over your tray to help avoid spills.
Pack straws if you have a hard time using standard cups.
Stand up and stretch as often as you can. People can get very stiff on the plane and this may trigger pain or balance changes for some people.
If you have any other tips, please share them at firstname.lastname@example.org