Thursday, August 4, 2016

Ten Tips for Traveling with Parkinson’s Disease

     With little over a month until the start of the World Parkinson Congress, I am sure many of you are busy planning your trip to Portland.  This is likely a time of excitement, mixed with at least a little anxiety. I’m fortunate to be able to look out my window and see the Convention Center just across the Willamette River and know my commute to WPC will only take a few minutes each day. However, it’s easy to look back on my previous travels and think about the many “I wish I had known better” moments - so I thought I’d share a few of my thoughts here.

     Years ago when I was on the Air Force Endocrinology fellowship teaching staff, I designed a study to exam the interactions between those traveling with diabetes and their providers. Like Parkinson’s,  diabetes is a disease in which care is greatly affected by travel.  One of our fellows eventually published the study: "How Do You Get There With Diabetes?"  The major takeaway point was that medical treatment is often disregarded when people plan their travels.

    Given my recent travel challenges, I’ve fielded a number of questions in different forums that deal with the impact of travel on Parkinson’s management and some of my responses are highlighted in this month’s edition of “More Than Motion”.  You can find out more about this publication and sign up for free copies of the magazine here: "More Than Motion"

     If you are planning to travel to WPC 2106 next month or have other future travel plans on your mind – here are some things to consider.

Ten Tips for Traveling with Parkinson’s                             
  1. Discuss your travel plans with your provider, with special attention to any need for adjustments in medication doses or timing of doses.  
  2. Research medical clinics and pharmacies at your destination, in case a need for care arises while traveling.
  3. Ensure your travel companions and guides are aware of any medical needs you have.
  4. Pack medications in multiple bags, in case one is lost or stolen.
  5. Carry a medical alert bracelet or other form of notification for emergency personnel.
  6. If you have a medical device, take appropriate documents to allow you to clear security.
  7. If you have mobility issues, plan ahead to coordinate any assistance you may need en route and at your destination. 
  8. Make sure your itinerary accounts for fatigue associated with “jet lag”, Parkinson’s, medications, etc.
  9. Plan to meet with Parkinson’s support groups at your destination.  It’s a great way to meet locals who can immerse you in the culture.
  10. Know your true limitations, but don’t overestimate them.  Most “limitations” to travel are actually challenges that can be overcome by appropriate planning
      For those wanting to read more about traveling with Parkinson’s, there are a number of articles that can be found on Parkinson’s organizations’ websites.  Here are a few:

     Of course, no article on travel and Parkinson’s would be complete without mentioning the true champion of those who have Parkinson's and want to travel….Parky!  Check out his website and see where he’s been lately at  Where is Parky?