The idea of planning and taking a trip when you have Parkinson’s may be daunting. But trips are sometimes needed and often enjoyable! Try to break the trip into specific categories and questions, so the planning is manageable and the trip itself is satisfying.
- Plan your trip carefully and in advance.
- Ask your neurologist to give you the name of a doctor in the area to which you are traveling. Also find out if there is a National Parkinson Foundation Center of Excellence, chapter or support group in the area you are visiting. Call 1-800-4PD-INFO to find these resources.
- Don’t forget to rest the day before your trip AND the day (or day after) you arrive.
- Be sure to bring your Aware in Care Parkinson's ID bracelet and wallet card with you. If you don't have an Aware in Care kit, order one now (in the planning stages of your vacation).
- Carry all medications in original bottles, with the name of the drug and your doctor’s name on the label.
- Bring a copy of your prescriptions (generic and non-generic names) and medication regimen, including your physician’s name and contact information.
- Carry all your medications, for your entire trip, in your carry-on bag; include snacks, water or juice to take with meds. Pack some extras in case you are detained or your supply is lost.
- If you are changing time zones, continue to take your medications as prescribed, with the same intervals between doses. Consider wearing two watches: current time and time at home.
- All American citizens require a passport to visit foreign destinations and to re-enter the United States.
- Check your medical insurance policy to be sure that you are adequately covered wherever you’re going. Be aware of services provided (or not provided) in other countries.
At Travel Terminals
- If necessary, request wheelchair or electric cart service within terminals (your bags will be handled, too!).
- Check in early.
- Take advantage of early boarding privileges and, if necessary, special accommodations to get to your seat.
- Request an aisle seat as close as possible to the bathroom.
Air Travel Specifics
- Airline carriers must provide meet-and-assist service (i.e., help getting to the gate or aircraft) at drop-off points.
- Personal care assistants of passengers with disabilities are allowed beyond screener checkpoints.
- The limit of one carry-on bag and one personal bag (purse, briefcase or backpack) per traveler does not apply to medical supplies and/or assistive devices.
- Assistive devices such as canes and wheelchairs are permitted on board.
- People who require a wheelchair or scooter must have a physician’s written “certificate of need.”
- People in wheelchairs can request private checkpoint screenings.
- Syringes are permitted on board with documentation of medical need and proper labeling.
Rail Travel Specifics
- Have valid photo identification.
- Amtrak trains can accommodate most wheelchairs. Amtrak may make random checks of wheelchairs.
- A service animal is allowed to travel with the passenger.
Bus Travel Specifics
Call ahead to speak with personnel about available services for particular bus companies. Some companies offer the following:
- Buses equipped with wheelchair lifts.
- Assistance with boarding, de-boarding, luggage, transfers, stowing and retrieving mobility equipment.
- Personal attendants can travel one-way at no charge. (Arrangements for a return ticket are made at the returning location.)
- Service animals, oxygen and respirators are permitted.
Ocean Cruise Specifics
- Ocean liners offer scooters for rent during cruises.
- Determine in advance whether any ports of call require a license for a motorized wheelchair.
Ask specific questions before your arrival. For example:
- What does “accessible room” actually mean?
- Is there a walk-in shower and grab bars?
- What is the proximity to elevators?
- See fewer sites… enjoy them more!
- Give yourself extra time for everything!
Don’t let PD hold you back from the trip of your dreams! Bon voyage!