Flying With One Wing

By Doug Ankerman

For me, traveling with multiple sclerosis (and being in a wheelchair) has never been a problem.

I’ve rolled through airports with every conceivable three-letter combination in the entire alphabet.  And my latest trip to Phoenix (or should I say PHX) would be no exception.

But this trip WOULD be a challenge for two reasons. Continue reading

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Top 3 Must-Have Travel Accessories this Summer

By Alene Brennan

Just because you have MS doesn’t mean you can’t have fun in the sun. MS or not, you want to enjoy summer vacations, barbeques and outdoor activities. So how can you achieve this without having the heat triggering or exacerbate your symptoms?

Check out these “accessories” that helped me manage MS during my mission trip to Haiti just one year after my diagnosis. Continue reading

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Making Travel Possible and a Priority When MS Symptoms Make it Hard

By Stacie Prada

In 2014, I visited France for the first time.  I went to Sainte-Chapelle at the recommendation of a neighbor who raved I needed to go when I visited Paris.  It was incredible. The gothic architecture of the building relies on a web of supporting arcs that creates a pattern like no other I’d seen before in real life.  It was awe-inspiring. I’d been told the main floor was beautiful and the upper floor exponentially more incredible.

At the time I recall there was construction and signage indicating only one way to access the upper floor.  As I climbed the tightly curved, narrow and steep stairway, I experienced a visceral moment that had me choking back a sudden sob. My thoughts flashed to friends with mobility issues that would not be able to navigate this route. I realized that this is something that someday I will not be able to experience. In that moment I felt profound grief for what I haven’t yet lost – the ability and freedom to go anywhere without my body limiting me.  Continue reading

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Summer Travel Tips for Flying With MS – Part 2

By Jeri Burtchell

Most people who have MS take medications. Be sure to keep them in your carry-on bag to prevent mishandling or severe temperature changes. Keep a note in your wallet or purse with your emergency contact, medications, conditions, allergies and medical history in case anything should happen away from home.

Pack a sweater in your carry-on. Even if you are traveling from one hot place to another, airports and planes can be veritable iceboxes. Besides using it for warmth, a cushy sweater can double as a pillow.

Pack your own snack. Fruit or nuts, a sandwich or chips, are all going to be cheaper if you bring your own. Airlines occasionally provide snacks, but not always, and if they have snack boxes for purchase you can expect to pay premium prices. The only thing you can’t bring is a drink but most flights offer a free beverage.

Which to choose, the aisle seat or the window? Windows seats have the added benefit of not only providing a view, but a “wall” on which to lean if you tire easily. Aisle seats make trips to the restroom easier. Middle seats, for most passengers,  are the least desirable.

Pack a wall charger for your smartphone in your carry-on. Your itinerary, email and family may only be an electronic device away, but if your battery dies and the airline lost your luggage, you will be cast adrift in an unfamiliar place, unable to access anything. You can usually find an outlet for your charger in any airport terminal.

If you rent a vehicle at your travel destination, ask for one similar to yours at home. Trying to figure out where the wipers and lights are while navigating a strange place just adds unneeded stress.

If you follow these tips, you can avoid unnecessary stress, leaving you free to enjoy your stay. Don’t overdo it, though! Be sure to drink plenty of fluids so you don’t dehydrate, take naps when you body tells you and pace yourself. Make your visit memorable for all the right reasons. Happy travelling!

*Jeri Burtchell was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. She has spoken from a patient perspective at conferences around the country, addressing social media and the role it plays in designing clinical trials. Jeri is a MS blogger, patient activist, and freelance writer for the MS News Beat of Healthline.com. She lives in northeast Florida with her youngest son and elderly mother. When not writing or speaking, she enjoys crafting and photography.

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Summer Travel Tips for Flying With MS: Part 1

By Jeri Burtchell

Summer travel by air with multiple sclerosis doesn’t have to mean anxiety and exhaustion. With a few tips your journey can be smooth sailing. Here are some timely tips gathered from MS patients who travel frequently.

Before you leave home, search the internet for your destination to learn about the terrain you’ll be visiting, the weather, and your hotel’s amenities. You can even use Google Maps’ Street View to plan your excursions ahead of time. Having an idea of what to expect allows you to design your trip for maximum comfort. Likewise, when making hotel reservations, ask for an “accessible” room. They have more grab bars in the bathroom, and often lower toilets and sinks, wider doors. They are usually located closer to the elevators or on the ground floor.

When booking your flight, request a wheelchair. Even if you don’t use one at home, it makes conquering an airport much easier. Not only do you conserve energy and stave off travel fatigue, but the assistants who push you know where they are going and can get you there quickly–helping you catch connecting flights with ease. If you have a cane, bring it. Like a red flag, canes signal disability and airline staff go out of their way to assist you. No matter if you are having a good day at home and don’t expect to need it, air travel is taxing and you will be glad you brought your cane at day’s end.

If you are using a carry-on bag larger than a purse or small backpack, invest in a roller bag. The wheels and long handle are going to make lugging it around with you a lot easier. When checking bags, tie a bright piece of cloth on the handle of each one so you can spot them quickly in a sea of luggage that all looks the same on the carousel in baggage claim.

Security check points are notorious for long lines and hassles, but you can make things easy on yourself. Leave your belt at home and empty your pockets into a baggy stored in your carry-on ahead of time. If there is an outside zippered pocket on your roller bag, use that space for your ticket and ID, along with your ziploc full of liquids that need to be separate from everything else for inspecting. Slip-on shoes are a convenient alternative to ones that lace up and requires no sitting or bending to put them back.

Stay tuned for more tips on Wednesday!

*Jeri was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1999. She has spoken from a patient perspective at conferences around the country, addressing social media and the role it plays in designing clinical trials. Jeri is a MS blogger, patient activist, and freelance writer for the MS News Beat of Healthline.com. She lives in northeast Florida with her youngest son and elderly mother. When not writing or speaking, she enjoys crafting and photography.

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