Travel is accessible for many people with Parkinson’s disease. The idea of planning and taking a trip may be daunting and stressful for some. However, once broken down into specific categories and questions, the task is not only manageable, but also produces fruitful and satisfying results.
- Plan your trip carefully and in advance.
- Check your medical insurance policy to be certain that you are adequately covered. Be aware of services provided (or not provided) in other countries.
- Ask your neurologist if she can give you the name of a doctor in the area to which you are traveling.
- Find out if there is a National Parkinson Foundation Center, chapter, or support group in the area you are visiting.
- 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 or wallet card with you. If you don't have an Aware in Care kit, contact NPF's free Helpline at 1-800-473-4636 while in the planning stages of your vacation.
- Carry all medication 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 medication, for your entire trip, in your carry-on bag; include snacks, water, or juice to take with meds.
- Bring a replacement supply of prescription medications 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 2 watches: current time, and time at home.
- All American citizens require a passport to visit foreign destinations and to re-enter the United States.
At Travel Terminals:
- If necessary, request wheelchair or electric cart service within terminals (Your bags will be handled too!).
- Check in early.
- Utilize early boarding privileges, and, if necessary, special accommodation to get to your seat.
- Request an aisle seat, and as close as possible to bathroom.
Air Travel Specifics:
- Airline carriers must provide meet-and-assist service (e.g. assistance to 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) 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 wheelchair or scooter must have physician’s written “certificate of need.”
- People in wheelchairs can request private, rather than public, checkpoint screenings.
- With documentation of medical need, and with proper labeling, syringes are permitted on board.
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:
- Greyhound buses are equipped with wheelchair lifts.
- Greyhound provides assistance with boarding, de-boarding, luggage, transfers, stowing and retrieving mobility equipment.
- Greyhound allows personal attendant to 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. For example, What does “accessible room” actually mean? Is there a walk-in shower? 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!