If you’ve been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, you might be wondering about whether it’s safe to continue travelling – both at home, and overseas.
The good news is that most people living with Parkinson’s disease continue to be able to travel for many years after the diagnosis. Parkinson’s disease might mean you need to plan your trip in more detail than you have previously.
Here are some tips that you may find helpful for planning your vacations and staying safe while you travel.
Before you book a holiday or short trip, you may wish to talk to your GP or specialist about your condition and ask if there is anything specific you need to keep in mind.
- Consider asking your doctor to write a letter about your condition in case you need to visit a doctor while you’re travelling.
- You may wish to arrange to have this letter translated into local languages if you’re travelling to countries where English is not spoken.
- Learning how to translate Parkinson’s Disease can also be a helpful step to take before you travel.
- Consider obtaining a written list of your medications from your doctor or pharmacist.
- You might also want to investigate how to access medical services particularly if you are travelling to more remote or non-English speaking destinations.
Book in advance
Booking your accommodation and transport in advance can make travelling less stressful. If you are using a travel agent, you might want to ask about special assistance for people with Parkinson’s disease.
If you are flying to your destination, it’s worth thinking about whether it would be best for you to fly without a stopover, or if you would find it easier to break up your trip.
Some other points to keep in mind when you’re booking your hotel and flights include:
- Location of hotel rooms – some people with Parkinson’s disease prefer to request ground floor rooms or rooms close to the lifts.
- Rooms with extra space – wheelchair accessible rooms often provide more space, particularly in the bathroom.
- Travelling to and from airports – plan your transport to and from the airport.
- Travelling within airports or shipping terminals – using a wheelchair to travel through security, customs and immigration can reduce fatigue. Many airports provide ground staff that are able to assist with this.
- Driving – if you are able to drive, check any restrictions in local areas.
Get travel insurance
Travel insurance is important for all travellers, but it can be especially important for travellers with special needs.
Consider talking to your insurer about your Parkinson’s disease, and enquire if there are any restrictions on your insurance cover. The extent of cover can vary widely between insurers, and you may find it useful to shop around for a policy that best covers your circumstances. Confirming your plan covers you for Parkinson’s disease internationally as well as locally can give you peace of mind before you travel, and can be very important in the event of an accident or illness while you are away.
Research your itinerary
If you’re driving, find out about car parking and how close this is to the transport terminal. Sketching out a rough itinerary can be helpful in thinking out if there is anything that might make it difficult for you to get around. If you’re driving, find out about car parking and how close this is to the transport terminal.
Talk to your doctor about how to take your medications while you’re travelling, particularly across time zones and consider finding out how to access medication overseas if necessary – including any restrictions you need to be aware of. A back up supply of medication is always a good idea.
For aircraft travel, you may wish to consider separating your two sets of medication between your carry-on bag and stowed luggage.
Further information about travelling with medication can be found on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website https://smartraveller.gov.au/guide/all-travellers/health/Pages/medicine.aspx
- Parkinson’s Victoria: Holidays and travel https://www.parkinsonsvic.org.au/parkinsons-and-you/holidays-and-travel/
- WEB MD: Parkinson’s travel guidelines https://www.webmd.com/parkinsons-disease/guide/parkinsons-travel-guidelines#1
The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and is not treatment advice. Recommendations regarding therapy can only be made on a case by case basis, discussed between a patient and their treating doctor(s).
The information in this article was current at January 2019.