Planning ahead for a trip

There are a few key things to remember when planning a trip: know your needs and your destination, talk to your doctor, and make sure you have health insurance.

When planning a trip, it's important to take stock of any special needs you may have. For example:

  • Do you have limited mobility or use assistive devices?
  • Do you have vision problems?
  • Is heat an issue for you? (If so, an air-conditioned room can help.)
  • Do you have a service dog?
  • Will you be traveling with a companion?
  • Do your medications need special storage (such as refrigeration) or disposal (such as sharps containers)?

Just about any trip you dream of can be possible with the proper planning - be sure to call ahead and make sure the lodging, vehicles, and destination you have chosen can accommodate your needs.

A few months before any major trip, check with your doctor about which medications you may need to bring and how to transport them, and whether you need any special immunizations or medications (such as anti-nausea medications or antibiotics). If so, get the prescriptions in advance. You may also need to get medical advice about how the trip you're planning could affect your MS symptoms and whether you need to take any special precautions.

Don't leave home without travel health insurance! Make sure the insurance will cover you for the full duration of your trip and in all locations that you are visiting. Find out if any medical letters are required so that you can get one from your doctor during your visit.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Travel

Planes, trains, boats, and automobiles

By air...
In recent years, airport security has been stepped up. Fortunately, if you take MS medications, you can still bring them with you on the plane in your carry-on baggage. It's important to have the medication with you in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost. See the "Taking medications along for the ride" section of this feature for more details on how to transport your medications. You can also contact the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) for more information.

If you have a disability or mobility issue, call ahead to find out how the airline can help you in terms of boarding, seating, storing your mobility device, and accessible washrooms. Find out if you need to arrive early or identify yourself to someone in order to access this service.

By land...
If you're traveling by train, most rail companies have modified their cars to offer better accessibility to people with restricted mobility and offer assistance with boarding. Some (such as VIA Rail in Canada) may also offer free travel to care providers traveling with you. As with airplane travel, it's important to keep your medications in your carry-on luggage where they will be easily available to you.

Many trips involve renting a car or van once you've reached your destination. This can still be an option even if your mobility is restricted. Call ahead to find out if the rental car company offers cars that can accommodate mobility devices, if needed. Rental cars may also come with other special features for people with disabilities, such as hand controls (for people who cannot use their legs to push the pedals). Most of these services are available free of charge, but you usually need to reserve ahead of time. If heat makes your symptoms worse, look for a vehicle with air conditioning. You may also want to consider getting roadside assistance coverage during the time that you rent a vehicle (if you're not already covered).

Or by sea...
If you're planning a cruise, here are a few things to keep in mind.

When choosing a cruise line, call ahead to make sure they can accommodate any special needs you may have, and that you will be able to access public areas and shore excursions. Whether it's onboard wheelchair accessibility, air conditioning, a crewmember to help you aboard, or a cool place to keep your medications, most major cruise lines will be happy to help. However, you may need to arrange these things in advance. You may also want to find out ahead of time whether any doctor's notes or medical releases are required. Choose a newer boat if possible, as these are likely to be larger and more accessible for those with disabilities.

Seasickness can ruin a great cruise. Before you leave, talk to your doctor or pharmacist about medications that you can take for seasickness and whether they are safe to combine with your other medications.

No matter how you choose to travel, if your travel experience did not provide the accessibility or accommodation you needed, you can find out more about your rights by contacting the Canadian Transportation Agency. Their Codes of Practice provide more information about accessible travel regulations.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Travel

Taking medications along for the ride

If you take medications for MS, it's important to know how to store and transport them while traveling.

Air travel has the tightest restrictions on medications. Canadian authorities allow you to bring your MS medications on board the plane in your carry-on baggage. For injectable medications, the needle guard must be in place. The syringe must be stored with the medication. The medication must be in a container with a clear, professional pre-printed pharmacy label. A good way to meet these requirements is to save and use your original packaging. Contact the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) for more information. These are the minimum requirements for Canada. Contact your airline to see if they have any other requirements for medications, especially if you are traveling outside the country.

It's also a good idea to have a copy of your prescription and a letter from your doctor with current information about your treatment, so there are no questions about your need for the medication you are traveling with.

If you're traveling by land or sea, it's also a good idea to follow the storage and labeling guidelines above, and to contact your carrier for further requirements.

Check with your pharmacist or read the packaging information on how to properly store your medications.

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Travel

Resources for travellers with disabilities

Many travel planning books and websites aren't geared towards people with disabilities. Fortunately, there are specialized travel agencies and organizations that can help people with disabilities find accessible destinations and accommodations.

If you're traveling the world, check out the Global Access Disabled Travel Network. It offers travel tips to countries around the world, user ratings of hotels and resorts, and lists of accessible accommodations around the globe. It also offers lists of travel books and websites written by people with disabilities.

Traveling within Canada? The Government of Canada Access to Travel website was developed by Transport Canada especially for people with disabilities. It offers information on accessible transportation options within Canada as well as Canadian travel regulations of interest to people with disabilities. You can also contact the Canadian Tourism Commission for travel planning tips or Parks Canada for information on accessibility in Canada's public parks. Access Guide Canada offers links to disability organizations across the country, including travel organizations.

The MS Society of Canada can direct you to travel agencies, travel consultants, and travel companions for people with special needs. A good travel agency can really help, especially if you're planning a more adventurous trip.

For more tips about air, ground, or sea travel, see the "Planes, trains, boats, and automobiles" section of this feature.

Enjoy your trip!

All material copyright MediResource Inc. 1996 – 2020. Terms and conditions of use. The contents herein are for informational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Source: www.medbroadcast.com/healthfeature/gethealthfeature/MS-and-Travel