It’s the end of the year and traveling season has begun! Traveling during the holidays can be super stressful on our minds and bodies. As a frequent traveler, I am sharing my experience and a few tips on what has worked for me when I’m traveling while managing my epilepsy.
Talk With Your Doctor
First thing you should do – talk with your doctor! It may seem a little strange to tell your doctor that you are going away for a long weekend or leaving for a vacation, but this is my most important tip. Most healthcare providers have an online portal that allows you to message your doctor. One way a portal can be helpful is that I can make sure I have plenty of anti-seizure medication before I travel, even if it means refilling my medication a little early if my doctor and pharmacy allows.
If I’m traveling somewhere with a time change, I make a plan with my doctor over the course of a few weeks to slowly switch the time I take my medication to the new time zone. I make sure my medication blood levels are good by my doctor’s standards before I leave.* I also let my doctor know the exact dates I’m traveling and where I’m going in case I have a seizure during my trip and a hospitalization is necessary. Finally, having a set seizure action plan that I’ve created with my doctor also gives me peace of mind before I set off on my next journey.
Have A Plan When You Pack
I know, packing is everyone’s least favorite thing to do. Other than making sure we have enough pairs of underwear; the entire process is a mess of clothes and toiletries. However, I pay attention to a few key items when I pack for a trip since being diagnosed with epilepsy. Anti-seizure medication is one of those items. I have a weekly pill organizer with day and night sections to help me keep track of when I take my medication. I also keep enough medication to last the length of my trip in a separate carry-on backpack. This becomes an emergency supply of medication in case my suitcase is damaged or gets lost during travel.
Other than my anti-seizure medications, I also pack some over the counter medications and some vitamin C in case I get a headache or have trouble sleeping.* Make sure to ask your doctor what over the counter medications or vitamins are right for you before deciding what should be in your suitcase.
Getting plenty of rest before my trip also helps me avoid having seizures on the road. I take a set of comfy pajamas with button up holes and slippers in the event I need to make an unexpected trip to the emergency room. Last but not least, I include some water and electrolyte packets in my bag to make sure I stay hydrated whenever I’m in a new environment.*
Talk with Your Friends and Family About Your Epilepsy
I always make sure the people I’m traveling with — and anyone I stay with during my trip — knows about my epilepsy. It can be hard having these conversations at first, but you have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. In fact, you can even recommend that your travel buddies get seizure first aid certified so they know what to do if you have a seizure during your trip.
I hope all you have safe, fun, and enjoyable trips this upcoming holiday season!
*Please note that this information is based on one person’s experience, and information shared for travel may not work for every person living with epilepsy. We recommend that you speak with your healthcare provider before planning a trip to find out what is right for you. The Epilepsy Foundation has additional travel tips from our medical experts.
Chelle is an Epilepsy Lifestyle Advocate and guest blogger for the Epilepsy Foundation.