Have you ever wondered what it’s like travelling with MS? If you have, you’re in luck because one of our readers, Margaret Halliday, has kindly shared her top ten tips for travelling with MS.
Margaret is a former teacher and scientist, she’s a published author and now writes her own blog where she shares her personal travel stories. I’m sure you’ll agree, we’re in good company here, so let me hand you over to Margaret.
Meet Margaret Halliday
I was diagnosed with MS in 1986, aged 36, and have travelled extensively since then. For about the first 15 years, no-one could have known that there was anything wrong with me, although I knew that if I got stressed my hands, feet and legs would feel funny and I’d get that MS hug.
During this time I was teaching in Istanbul, Budapest and Damascus and I saw those countries and others in my holidays. I made two six-month trips round India around the millennium and began to use a walking stick. Gradually my mobility worsened so that now I can only walk a short distance with my walker and use a mobility scooter to get about. Now I only go away for short periods and need to stay in places with disabled access and facilities, as well as needing someone to be with me.
My top ten tips for travelling with MS are made with these changes in my condition taken into account.
TOP TEN TIPS FOR TRAVELLING WITH MS
- Don’t do too much. Listen to your body and rest when you feel fatigued.
- Avoid stress. When I was backpacking around India on my own of course I became stressed but I learnt how to do yoga and meditate which helped to keep me calm.
- Get enough sleep. Use earplugs in noisy places.
- When you book a flight request wheelchair assistance at the airport, even if you don’t use one. Just walking to the gate can be exhausting plus in a chair you get whizzed through, bypassing all the queues – it’s brilliant!
- Unless you can’t transfer or walk at all, when you get to the plane in your chair insist on walking to your seat otherwise they transfer you to a small chair and carry you in. I found that most stressful. Sitting at the rear is better as the toilets are right by you and walking down the aisle stretches your legs after all the sitting.
- Eat healthily and take Senna tablets with you to avoid constipation. In a hot climate, this is likely to happen so keep hydrated.
- About hydration in hot climates: if you have bladder problems like me they will disappear after a couple of days because you are sweating so much. You can then drink loads of water and fresh juices no problem. I went with lots of pads which I didn’t need.
- Prickly heat is a problem in hot climates. Keep as cool as possible and wear light cotton loose clothing.
- I found the transition from being a solo, independent traveller to needing a companion come carer extremely hard. It took the manager of a Czech spa who gave me an ultimatum of either booking me an earlier return flight or paying for a helper, to drive this message home. When you need this accept it as philosophically as you can. Not easy I know, but the only way.
- Don’t let your MS stop you from travelling! There are plenty of inspirational stories written by MS travellers. Read them and be inspired to get out there.
If you have your own tips for travelling with MS, please share them with us in the comments section below.
Where you can find Margaret online
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