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Parkinson’s disease and Travel

June 13th, 2016

If you wish to travel, Parkinson’s disease should not be a barrier to seeing the world, if you are well organised and plan ahead.

There are a lot of websites giving tips for travel with Parkinson’s Disease. Few mention the travel vaccines, which are important.  Here are some suggestions which focus on medical issues. Some tips may not seem especially medical, but being comfortable is essential to having a successful trip.


Tips for planning a trip with Parkinson’s disease

  • Travel with a companion
  • Try to organise direct flights, with seating on the aisle
  • Plan ample rest days, and longer stopovers in each location.
  • Of course, get the right vaccines and pack a medical kit – Persons with Parkinson’s disease can have all the usual travel vaccines, but start early – ideally 6-8 weeks before departure.
  • Get a letter from your physician outlining your condition, treatment and any special allowances that are recommended. Take extra supplies of medication, and check if you need to make adjustments when crossing changing time zones.
  • Buy travel insurance. Check your Parkinson’s Disease is covered.
  • Advise the airlines and tour operators in advance of your Parkinson’s Disease. Tell them what extra assistance you may need. Some Parkinson’s Disease sufferers suggest a wheelchair transfer at airports is useful even if you don’t usually need to use a wheelchair. If you have trouble with stairs,  check the accommodation and dining area are accessible by  a lift. Perhaps ask for accommodation on the ground floor. Get written confirmation of their answer.
  • Organise the necessary paperwork if  you have a neurostimulator, as it can be affected by airport security detectors.
  • The European Parkinson’s Disease Association has an online tool that allows you to translate the phrase “I have Parkinson’s. Please allow me time. In case of emergency contact…” into 25 different languages.
  • Check your passport is current. This sounds basic but it does get forgotten sometimes. That little booklet is a game changer if its not in order. Have all your paperwork, (where you are going, when, contact phone numbers etc ) easily accessible and well organised to decrease stress. Ideally keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Consider an international sim card and extra charger for your mobile phone.
  • When packing,
    • Travel light as you can
    • Keep your medications, letter from physician, and essential documents in your carry-on bag
    • Keep extra spare medications in your pockets

Other resources here and here and here

Anxiety and depression develop in about 60% of persons with Parkinson’s Disease – this is twice the rate of the general population. The severity of mood disturbance or apathy has a greater impact on quality of life in patients receiving treatment than the motor symptoms.(1)

Travel may the just the thing to add some joy to life. It can be very achievable with some good pre travel planning.

Please share any other tips you have in the comment section below.

Fung VSC. New and emerging treatments for Parkinson disease. The Medical Journal of Australia. 2015;202(6):283-284. doi:10.5694/mja15.00155.

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