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Holidays and travel

Australians like to travel and travelling when you are living with Parkinson’s can continue. Extra planning will ensure that people with Parkinson’s can manage well and enjoy their time away.

This section covers:

Booking transport and accommodation

Book your transport well in advance, and let the travel company know about any special requirements, such as extra leg room, assistance getting onto the train / plane / coach etc.

Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for the help you need. Request or hire a wheelchair if that would make things easier. Most companies are happy to provide this, along with an escort to guide you. Often this service must be booked in advance, so ask ahead.

Ask the travel company about the assistance they can provide and compare several different companies. Ask if there will be extra charges for these services etc.

Travel insurance is highly recommended. It can be worthwhile comparing several different travel insurance policies. Note that travel insurance may be more expensive or more difficult to obtain for a person with an existing condition. Read the policy carefully as sometimes cover includes illness, but not Parkinson’s.

Find out about car parking and how close this is to the transport terminal.

Disability parking permits with the international wheelchair symbol may be accepted interstate and internationally but it is best to check with your destination.

Booking early is also useful when arranging accommodation, so that you can ask for a ground floor room, or one that is close to a lift. You can also ask about facilities such as ramps, handrails, or rooms that have been specially designed for less mobile people. Many hotels have wheelchair friendly or accessible rooms with more space which can be booked.

Travelling overseas

Check with your insurer about your health insurance and what it covers at your international destination.

Speak with your travel agent about requirements for carrying your medications on specific airlines.

If you need vaccinations to travel to your destination country, ask your doctor if these are safe to have in combination with your Parkinson’s medication.

If you are travelling to a different time zone, think about how you are going to plan your medication schedule. The Fight Parkinson’s Health Team are able to help with managing different time zones and medications.

If you need a syringe to deliver your medication, you will also need to check on regulations in individual countries. If you are travelling by air, explain your situation to the airline beforehand – especially if you will need to use a syringe during the flight.

Keep your medication with you in your hand luggage at all times. Carry at least 1 week’s medication in your hand baggage and have enough medication for a week longer than the duration of your holiday.

Not all medications available in Australia are available overseas. The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme with subsidised medications in Australia does not apply overseas, so the cost of medications may vary greatly.

Medications are sometimes known by different brand names in different countries; therefore it can be helpful to find out the name used in your destination country before you travel.

Consider having the letter from your doctor describing your condition and medication translated into the language of the country you will be visiting.

Consider learning the phrase “I have Parkinson’s disease” in the language of the country that you are visiting, or have it written down on a piece of card. The EPDA PD DOC has this phrase written in 25 languages.

Useful Tips

  • Plan routes and stopovers – allow time for extra tiredness and regular stops to stretch aching muscles or go to the toilet
  • Find out as much as you can about the facilities available at your destination before you leave e.g., is there a lift?
  • Before you depart, ask your doctor to find out the name and address of a GP and/or hospital at your destination, in case of an emergency
  • Ask your doctor to also provide a letter describing your condition and the medications that you take, in case treatment is needed at your destination
  • Take along the prescribing information from each pack of medication, together with a note of the dosage as this can be helpful to a treating doctor
  • When you pack your medication, be sure to pack more than you need in more than one bag – just in case your stay is longer than expected or you get separated from some part of your luggage
  • Take along your prescription and ask your carer/partner to carry a duplicate pack of medication
  • Keep your medication in its original labelled container, so that it can be easily identified
  • If you have had DBS surgery be aware that metal detectors can turn the DBS device off if you pass through. Tell security that you have a ‘pacemaker-like device’ and they will pass you through a different security screening process

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