A digital nomad’s favorite tips for managing travel safely with MS

It may take some extra effort, but traveling with MS is possible and rewarding.

As a digital nomad living with multiple sclerosis (MS), I am perpetually exhausted. Planning, packing, airports, reservations, it’s a lot even for a person without chronic illness. And then there’s the fear of a flare-up to deal with while on vacation.

What if I have an exacerbation while traveling abroad or on a cruise abroad? Without immediate access to my doctor, how do people with MS travel safely?

As a veteran traveler with a debilitating illness, I have these concerns. Travel can be a source of stress and exposure to infections that can lead to faulty bodily reactions such as fatigue, numbness, foot drop, mobility and vision problems.

The reality is that a person with MS often cannot count on a smooth fling without support. These are the steps I take to make sure I can travel safely to keep my MS under control.

Follow the guidelines of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and practice physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

If you plan to travel, consider destinations further afield to enjoy activities like hiking or camping.

Having fewer people around means you’re less likely to be exposed to the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, which is essential for everyone, not just those of us with MS.

If you fancy a faster experience, explore larger cities on less busy days to avoid the crowds, such as weekday afternoons.

Whether in a resort or in an Airbnb, I always consider having an accessible swimming pool as a priority.

Besides being a fun activity, exercising in swimming pools is great for building strength and also keeps you cool to avoid that dreaded MS. temperature sensitivity.

But beware of Jacuzzis and hot tubs. They may feel great for a while, but long-term lows often result in hours of post-jacuzzi fatigue.

Pro tip: Wet your hair. Cool water on your scalp is so refreshing. I can feel my internal temperatures drop when I dive into the water.

Infections can make you more likely to have MS relapse. This means that the risk of stomach disease is real.

You don’t want to be struggling with stomach issues from the chicken sizzling on the outdoor grill for festering hours in the sun.

If you absolutely need to try the local street food, make sure there is a line in front of the stall so you know the food is fresh.

Request a refrigerator in your room for snacks and temperature-controlled medication. If your meds are the refrigerated type, this is really handy.

Try regional treats and local snacks for quick, clean meals to keep in your mini-fridge.

Even if you only have one sink in your bedroom, opening up a sliced ​​mango and dropping it over the sink is sure to be one of your most cherished memories.

Having a routine is an essential part of my travel health management.

In the middle of an exciting vacation, it’s easy to break your exercise plans or forget to take your vitamins.

To plan ahead, I create a morning and evening checklist to define the start of my day as productive and the end of my day as restful. Having a checklist of desired goals and daily practices – like a 10-minute meditation, stretching, or starting the day with a glass of water – helps me relieve anxiety from a stressful trip.

When you have wonders to explore, it’s easy to run out.

Plan your sleep by setting a Cinderella curfew if you have an early morning visit. Don’t feel guilty about taking a nap if you stayed up late to venture out.

Before you go on your trip, plan how you will manage your recovery at the end of a tiring day. After a long day, it’s good to know how to get back to homeostasis, like an overnight bath, a conscious stretch, or a cooling compress.

During an untimely mid-vacation relapse, it’s good to have a contingency plan on how best to handle breastfeeding.

When planning your daily excursions, take note of which nearby hospitals are readily available.

I once relapsed in Thailand and was so uncomfortable that my big numbness (a combination of MS corset and drop foot) went away on its own towards the end of the trip. If your doctor approves of it, having emergency medication on hand can help with a sudden relapse.

Also, pack all the supplements and medications you normally take. I like to bring an extra week with me in a pill case.

Your favorite over-the-counter medications will help you overcome the aches and pains caused by all the walks on sightseeing and day trips.

Also determine if you might have motion sickness or altitude sickness, and discuss with your doctor the possibility of writing a prescription for the appropriate medications while you prepare for the trip. Don’t skip that. It’s the worst being the only one throwing up on the cruise or horribly ill in the mountains.

If you are taking disease-modifying therapy in the form of an injection or pill, consider bringing more with your trip in case your travel plans change.

Most insurers allow a 3 month supply of travel medication per year, but you will likely be on the phone for a long time coordinating this bulk supply of medication. Get your doctor involved and email everyone.

Pro tip: Contact your insurer’s Facebook page for help. My insurer’s support through Facebook Messenger helped speed up the process of getting an extra supply of vacation medication quickly.

If you are going abroad, I really recommend that you find out about travel insurance.

Some providers do not cover pre-existing conditions, so be careful when shopping. Additionally, some plans require you to purchase insurance within 15 days of travel in order to lock in pre-existing coverage.

Remember that the primary purpose of travel insurance is not for pre-existing conditions, but rather for times when you twist your ankle, break an arm, or suffer from food poisoning. Accidents like this are riskier for people with compromised immune systems.

It’s still good to be covered. Expect to pay $ 50 to $ 70 per month to cover yourself with a decent plan.

If a place is on your to-do list, don’t assume it’s out of reach for you because you have MS. Traveling safely with MS may take some extra effort and planning, but I find it always worth it in the end.


As a digital nomad with multiple sclerosis, Monica Lynne travels the world managing her disease and working remotely as a writer and performer. She focuses on social media management and influencer marketing with Miami-based public relations agency JLPR. A graduate in Theater, Dance and Communication Studies from Nova Southeastern University, she is present in the South Florida arts and culture community as an actress and content creator.

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