Traveling allows us to explore the world, to take adventures and discover ourselves in new places. When living with a chronic illness or disability however, travelling can sometimes feel daunting or overwhelming. Fears around unexpected delays, lost luggage, irregular sleep, accessibility, and changes in diet and environment may turn travelling off to some. But we are stronger than our diagnoses! And with the right preparation, traveling can bring the same joy for those living with illness and disability than it does for everyone else.
We have compiled top tips from our travel-enthusiast Mighty Well Brand Ambassadors on how they manage traveling with illness and disability. Follow their tips, and travel like a pro.
1. Stay well-charged.
Swapna Kakani regularly travels around the country for patient-advocacy speaking events. “ALWAYS bring an extension cord,” she says. “Hotels often don’t have enough outlets for all of the things I need to plug-in. And the outlets can be far from the bed. I usually am traveling with pumps, heating pads, not to mention my laptops and phone charger. Having an extension cord means I can access outlets in weird spots and have all my devices, medical or otherwise, as close as I need them.”
Sometimes it’s the little things, like an extension cord, that you won’t think of for your packing list. And as you charge your devices, always make sure you are finding time to recharge yourself. Building rest time into a trip will help you manage your energy for when you need it most.
2. Prep your carry on.
The stress of not knowing whether or not you’ll have the medical supplies you need can be incredibly overwhelming. That’s why Celia Fairbanks encourages us to bring what you need in your carry on.
“If you are traveling by plane, make sure to have at least 48 hours worth of medical supplies in your carry on,” she says. “Luggage can get lost, weather can cause diversions. Having 48 hours means you will have some time to get in touch with a home healthcare company and find a way to get more supplies. Or even better the airline might be able to get you your luggage!”
It’s always safer to have your medical supplies on hand, pack what you can in your carry on! And check out the Mighty Pack for a carry on that can hold the medical supplies you need most.
3. Plan ahead.
This is especially important when it comes to food! “If you have food allergies it really helps to plan ahead,” Julian Van Horne tells us. “I always research the area I’m going to and find out: what grocery stores are near and what restaurants I could eat at.”
It also helps to bring safe snacks with you when you travel. Julian brings protein powders, formula drinks, and other easy snack items in his bag on the plane. If you notify the airline ahead of time that your bag is a medical bag, Julian says, they will make exceptions for bringing those items with you!
4. Research disability accommodations – especially if you are flying.
Accessibility can be one of the most stressful parts of planning any trip. “Research the airline you’re flying and read up on their disability accommodations,” Julian says, I’ve had some really horrific access issues with flying. Know the ADA, know the airlines rules, and know your travel rights. All of these things are easily accessible on the internet to you. I make sure to write exactly what I need and call the airline after making booking my ticket. If there’s a problem have the corporate number on hand as well as the US department of transportation.”
What are your top tips for traveling with a chronic illness or disability? Do you have any travel questions ahead of the holiday season? Let us know in our Friends in the Fight group today!