A long Labor Day weekend is upon us and many of us may be taking advantage of the extra time off by making travel plans. Or maybe you’ve already started making plans for holiday travels. If you or someone in your travel party has epilepsy, how might that affect those travel plans and what extra steps can be taken in order to make your time away as safe and smooth as possible?
See your Dr Beforehand
If you are planning to take a long trip or one where you will be far from home, be sure to see your doctor ahead of time. Inform your doctor of your travel plans and have him or her give you a clean bill of health, along with any of their recommendations for keeping your health and safety a priority while traveling. Bringing a written list of questions with you will help you make the most of your visit.
Take Plenty of Medicine
Make sure you pack plenty of your anti seizure medication. It’s advisable to take more than needed, just in case. Ensure that your meds are kept in a secure, temperature controlled container and won’t be exposed to extreme heat or cold. If traveling out of the country, bring copies of your prescription(s) and check with your doctor beforehand to make sure each of your medications have refills available. You never know when your travel plans may get interfered with due to severe weather, transportation delays, or ya know, a global pandemic. Better to be prepared! Different time zones or routines that deviate from your norm could contribute to forgotten or late medication doses. Using an app or alarm on your phone will help you remember to take your meds at the appropriate times.
Wear a Medical Alert ID
If traveling in a group, be sure that you review seizure safety and first aid with all the members of your party beforehand. Additionally, wearing a medical alert ID is a great way to help keep you safe should a seizure occur in an unfamiliar environment and are especially helpful if you are a solo traveler. Wearing your ID where it is easily visible and not covered by clothing is recommended. Get My ID offers medical alert ID’s with QR codes that can be customized to include all of your pertinent info, such as emergency contacts, medical diagnosis and medication information, identification, and more. This makes it easy for paramedics or anyone with a smart phone to access the information needed in case of an seizure. Click here to receive a voucher through Epilepsy Alliance America to assist in purchasing one of these ID’s.
Be Aware of Your Triggers
Traveling, especially at peak times, can sometimes be a stress inducing experience. Stress is a common trigger for those who experience seizures, so taking extra precaution to avoid or minimize frustration as much as possible is recommended.
- Prepare ahead of time by using checklists.
- Have any needed documents ready to go.
- Start packing early rather than saving it to the last minute.
- If traveling by plane, do your best to get to the airport early.
- If traveling by car, give yourself plenty of time to make the trip and fill the gas tank ahead of time.
Heat is another trigger for some individuals with epilepsy. If you are traveling to a warm destination, be sure to stay hydrated and be intentional about finding places to take breaks indoors to avoid overheating.
Lack of rest is another common seizure trigger. Sleeping in a bed other than what you’re used to plus the increased activity level often associated with traveling can lead to tiredness. Build rest breaks into your itinerary and try to stick to your routine sleep schedule, if possible. Find opportunities on your trip that help you feel refreshed and relaxed. Massage, anyone?
The advice given above is not meant to oversimplify traveling with a chronic health condition. Particularly for those with more severe or uncontrolled epilepsy, added precautions above and beyond what are discussed here may be needed in order to travel safely. For those whose seizures remain well controlled with medication, a little extra preparation and planning should go a long way when it comes to safely enjoying your travel experiences, both close to home and further away. If you have any questions or concerns about how your epilepsy may affect an upcoming trip, consult your doctor. Safe travels!!