With the summer fast approaching, many people will be thinking about their holiday plans. Maybe you fancy taking in some culture on a city break; perhaps you just want a week of sun, sea and sand in the Med, or maybe you are getting ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure somewhere exotic. Wherever you and your suitcase are heading, it’s always good to be prepared, so here’s some advice on travelling when you have MS.
Medication and vaccinations
Different countries can have different rules about medications that can be brought into the country, so it’s important to check what they are before you travel – you could get caught up in a tricky situation if not! It’s also a good idea to keep MS drugs in their original packaging and to have a copy of your prescription with you. If you are taking one of the injectable disease modifying drugs, you will need a letter from your MS nurse or from the home delivery company to explain why you’re travelling with syringes. Other things worth thinking about include whether you’ll need to take additional medication with you in case of delays, if you need to adjust your medication according to time differences, and if your hotel has a fridge to store your medication. If you’re travelling to a destination where you need vaccinations, it’s best to chat to your doctor about what this will mean for you. Read more about medication.
If you’re travelling to a destination where you’re not completely comfortable speaking the native language (and limited GCSE French doesn’t count as fluent!), it’s a good idea to write down some essential phrases so you can ask for help in an emergency. Jot down essential contact numbers too – the local doctor, for example - just in case.
Ensure you’re insured
It’s always important to research travel insurance before you go away, but even more so if you have MS. Shop around for the best deal and ALWAYS read the small print to check everything is covered. It might be worth asking for recommendations on Twitter and Facebook too, often this is how the best deals can be found. Read our information on insurance.
Accessible accommodation and activities
Although sometimes it may take a bit more planning and preparation, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t pack your holiday with a full itinerary of amazing experiences and locations. Many hotels now have accessible rooms and there are always accessible activities you can plan, so don’t feel like you have to compromise because of your MS. If you need some extra advice and guidance, there are many organisations that can help find you accommodation, book attractions, arrange assistance at airports, plus offer general hints and tips to ensure you have a great time. Accomable and wheelchairworld.org are two organisations we recently featured in our newsletter Open Door.
Keeping your cool
Many people with MS find that their symptoms get worse in the heat, so if you’re jetting off to sunnier climes it’s worth bearing this in mind. Top tips for keeping cool include going out earlier or later in the day when the temperature has cooled, staying in the shade when possible, having regular cold drink breaks, using a handheld fan, and spraying your face and wrists with a plant mister. Read more tips for staying cool.
Ask the MS community
From the best places to stay to the most family-friendly restaurants, social media is great for recommendations, so do make use of it when planning a holiday. You never know what hidden gems it might lead you to! You can join the conversation in our Facebook group.
Holidays are meant to be fun, so the most important thing is to relax and enjoy yourself!
Here, Tom, who is a permanent wheelchair user with MS, shares his experience of travelling to Barcelona with his fellow ‘Saga louts’ on a holiday organised by disabledholidays.com.
We all met up at mine and after checking a few items on the car, we set off for the Channel Tunnel. We arrived at the terminal and after the old men’s visit to the loo, we were advised that we could go to the boarding point early. In addition, we jumped the queue by going in the disabled traveller lane as I have a WAV (wheelchair accessible vehicle).
We arrived at the hotel, which was bright, with friendly, welcoming staff. They only speak limited English so my knowledge came in very useful. The accommodation was like a small flat with a microwave, oven, dishwasher and fridge. Super! After settling in, we headed out for some lovely pizzas and paella. After a short nap, we headed down to the other end of La Rambla, where we enjoyed tapas and red wine.
Once we woke up, I called for the nurse assistance and Dave put the kettle on for a cup of tea. We then headed down to the bar for a continental breakfast followed by a walk around the marina and had a beer looking at the Gin Palace moored before us; one actually had a helicopter on the upper deck. On the way back, we walked through a park with a fantastic Gaudi water feature.
The next day we were off to the Camp Nou stadium for a tour. The trophy room and the whole stadium is amazing. After our wine and cheese (Malc's second lunch) we decided to hit La Rambla. We walked the length of the street to Catalunya Square returning via the back streets of the Gothic Quarter, where we stopped for a beer and later for a meal in Placa Reial (Craig and Malcolm had monkfish whilst Tom and Dave had lobster paella).
The forecast predicted thunder, so we chose to visit the Sagrada Familia (Gaudi's masterpiece Cathedral which was started over 100 years ago and yet still incomplete). Photos were taken at the front, and we managed to get a bargain with a man selling castanets thanks to my Spanish haggling.
We visited Vilanova i la Geltru, which had a large marina and sandy beaches. The weather was warm and sunny all day and we moved from bar to bar, to cafe, before ending up on the beach in a bar, where Malcolm and Craig paddled in the sea.
Today the Saga Louts went to Park Guell and enjoyed listening to a band playing live music. We then headed into town to find beer and tapas. After going to the beach, we headed out to a local bar for sangria. I cannot say that Sangria is my favourite tipple but when in Barcelona… After another round of drinks, we went back to the hotel and finished off another bottle of red wine before bedtime.
After watching the Magic Fountain show, we drove up to the castle via the Olympic stadium and stopped to look at the view over the port and all the way around to Parc Geull. After the meal we walked up to the main fountain where we saw an excellent water/light show started. We all thought it was fantastic! Returning to the hotel, we had a nightcap and went to bed with great thoughts of an absolutely fantastic week in Barcelona.