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Parkinson's disease: Making travelling easier

A diagnosis of Parkinson's disease can bring challenges for travel, but with some careful planning, holidays and days out can be made easier.

Planning ahead also helps reduce anxiety before setting off.

Parkinson's disease travel tips

  • Always try to travel with a companion.
  • Keep the names of your doctor, insurance company, emergency contact and medications in your wallet or purse.
  • Carry identification stating that you have Parkinson's disease.
  • Use a waist bag or a rucksack so that you have both hands free for balance as you walk, especially if you’re walking any distance.
  • Pack snacks and carry a water bottle to take medications.
  • Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing and good walking shoes.
  • When making hotel bookings, request a room on the ground floor or near a lift. Ask if they have rooms for people with disabilities; these usually include support bars in the shower and bathroom and have wider spaces between furniture for wheelchair access.

Medication

  • Always have at least a day's dosage of medication in your pocket or purse.
  • Try to carry all of your medications with you, in case your luggage gets misplaced.
  • Pack enough medicines to last for the entire trip.
  • Do not rely on pharmacies in foreign countries for refills.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist about any over-the-counter medications - such as those for motion sickness or diarrhoea - before you leave.
  • Find out if your medications are "sun-sensitive" and plan accordingly.
  • Carry a list and schedule of medications with you.
  • If possible, use a watch with an alarm or a tablet wallet with an alarm to remind you when your next medication is due. This is especially important if you are travelling across time zones, which makes it difficult to remember when to take your treatment.

Travel by car

  • Many Parkinson's medications can cause drowsiness, particularly after eating. If you are driving, have a nap before you go and avoid eating two to three hours before departing.
  • Do not overestimate your abilities. While you may be capable of driving short distances to and from home, a longer journey by road may require much more stamina. Either break the trip up into shorter distances with frequent stops, or share the driving with someone else.

Travel by air

  • Request a non-stop flight and an aisle seat.
  • Check-in as many bags as possible, but remember to keep your medication in your hand luggage.
  • Use airport shuttles, or ask for a wheelchair, if it is a long way to the gate.
  • Ask for early seating to give you a few extra minutes to board and get comfortable.
  • Go to the toilet before you board the plane. Plane toilets are often small and not disability-friendly.
  • If you are on a restricted diet, request a special meal in advance.
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