Part 2: Life Hacks for Stress-Free Travel

So you’re on vacation. You got on the plane, arrived at your hotel, and now it’s time to relax and enjoy yourself. Right? Wrong. You forgot your medication and now you’re on the phone with your doctor trying to get her to call in a prescription at the nearest pharmacy. You know… the one that’s 35 minutes away in a city you’re unfamiliar with. Sound fun? Didn’t think so. Here’s hoping you can avoid that sinking “oh sh*t” feeling of forgetting the essentials when traveling with a chronic illness.

Traveling and medication

• Some of us need our medication on a daily basis. Without medication, your holiday could get hindered and finding a pharmacy is not always an easy task. So just in case your suitcase goes missing, avoid the stress of not having your meds and always carry it in your hand luggage.

• Ask your neurologist to write a letter regarding your DMD, particularly if you need to inject your medication and carry needles.

• Always carry over-the-counter medication in your hand luggage

• Remember to pack the information leaflets of your medication also in case airport security wants to know more about your medicines.

• Pack enough medication to last you 5 days longer than your trip if your flight is delayed.

• Take a ‘Medical Emergency List’ wherever you go. It lists all the details that are needed to call my emergency contacts, which medicine(s) I use, the contact details of my main medical doctors, etc.

For the Airport

• Copy your ID, medical insurance and all your travel documentation and store them in a safe place online in case your printed papers go missing. I email all my documents to myself for quick access.

• If you depend on your laptop, tablet or smartphone every day, do not forget to back up the device to cloud storage, USB stick or other hardware. “Just in case,” will make you very happy if your laptop, tablet or mobile phone gets broken or lost.

• Alert your bank if you are traveling internationally to make sure that your cards aren’t frozen for suspicious transactions.

• If your airline offers travel insurance for cancelled flights, luggage gone missing, etc., pay the extra insurance fee as it will put your mind at ease knowing you are covered in case something happens.

At your destination

• Use the safe in your bedroom to store any documentation you do not need during your stay.

• Get something to eat and drink from the local supermarket. I like to have something to eat when it’s time for my medicine every night/morning.

• Use your smartphone if you find yourself lost to show people where you have to be or go; no more dragging large maps with you.

• Use a video calling app or service over Wi-Fi if you need to make calls, as international roaming plans are expensive.

• I always unpack everything from my suitcase when I arrive (and wherever possible). It saves me having to pick up heavy suitcases if I need to find something.

Despite my love of flying, I have my own routine that helps me stay relaxed and happy all the way to my destination:

• I pack all the small liquids in an unprinted freezer bag at home, and put it in my hand bag to save time in the security line up.

• I’m usually the first one at the gate as it makes boarding easier and once on the plane, there’s more space left in the overhead area to store your carry-on luggage.

• I always choose to sit in either the first row and in an aisle seat, because I dislike being stuck in a row where I can’t get out, and I dislike having to wait to get off the airplane.

It’s also much easier to stretch your legs on the aisle path, and I’m near the bathroom if I need it. I pay more for the business seat, and the comfort is worth it.

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Karen O’Shea
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Karen O’Shea
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