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Tips for Traveling With Parkinson's Disease

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Updated July 21, 2009

Tips for Traveling With Parkinson's Disease
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Until late stages of the disease people with Parkinson's disease can travel as much as they want but they will need to consult their doctor first and they will need to plan ahead. Most of us tend to over-estimate the amount of activities we can do when we arrive at the destination so it may be wise to plan for rest periods as well as sight-seeing periods.

Antiparkinson medications, especially the various forms of carbidopa/levodopa, are available throughout the world but they may not be called the same names in each country. So it may be wise to create a list of all your medications and their generic chemical names in case you need to tell a pharmacist or doctor what you need. Here are some other tips to help you have a great travel experience with PD:

  • Try to schedule travel or vacation trips after you see your PD doctor so that any necessary medication adjustments can be accomplished weeks BEFORE you leave. Don’t start new medications or attempt to alter dosages while on vacation.
  • Pack your medications in carry-on luggage and in containers that allow you easy and quick access. Medication organizers that allow you to prepare medications for several upcoming days can be very useful when you are trying to cope with jet-lag and the last think you want to think about is which pills you need to take when.
  • If you cross time zones adjust the time you take your medications accordingly unless your doctor tells you otherwise. You want to be symptom free when you need to interact with others in the current time zone. But if you have motor fluctuations you need to take your medications based on your pattern of fluctuations rather than the current time zone. Discuss the timing of your doses with your doctor before you travel.
  • There is usually not any problem with border officials who inspect your luggage and medications. A huge number of people carry their medications with them through security checkpoints every day. If you have a large number and variety of medications it may be useful to have a letter from your doctor indicating that you need to take these drugs in a timely manner in case any questions arise from border officials.
  • Try not to travel alone. If you need assistance a traveling companion can be a lifesaver. Plus it is more fun to travel with another person.
  • Leave detailed information with your family or with some trusted friends on where you will be staying and for how long. They can provide this information to authorities who can reach you in case of emergency.
  • Enjoy yourself!
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