Note that the rules change with some regularity.
For instance, on March 15, amendments to the
ADA went into effect that require all hotel and
hospitality online reservation systems to be ADA-compliant. The best thing you can do, Graham
suggests, is to learn about your protections. For
example, the Disability Law Handbook, which
offers an overview of the major federal laws
relevant to people with disabilities, is available
via free download or for $5 by mail ( dlrp.org,
800-949-4232). And remember to ask your travel
agent about laws pertinent to your trip.
The best-laid plans
Getting to your destination—and packing for
it—are often the least fun parts of the process.
But a little preparation can go a long way toward
ensuring an enjoyable and hassle-free trip.
Doctors and hospitals are available to handle medical emergencies in all but the most
remote locations. Still, people with MS can avoid
such crises by taking a few precautions.
n Bring enough of your medications to last
the length of the trip. Copy all prescriptions
and carry the copies in a safe place. “Even in
Europe, medications or prescriptions might
be hard to replace,” points out Dr. Barbara
Giesser, medical director of the MS
Achievement Center at the University of
California, Los Angeles.
n Bring a letter from your physician stating you
use injectable meds, or print out the TSA’s
medical identification card ( www.tsa.gov), in
case you have difficulty with airport security.
Additionally, tours or cruise lines may require a
“fitness to travel” letter from your doctor.
n If you’ll be away for a long time in a place with
limited access to medical care, you may wish
to ask your doctor for a prescription for oral
steroids in case you have an exacerbation.
(Some will oblige, some won’t.) But don’t
worry about a full-blown attack, says Dr.
Giesser. “You may have fatigue or other
symptoms, but travel alone is unlikely to
cause an exacerbation.” What you should
be concerned about, she says, are food- and
water-related illnesses. Note that jet lag might
increase fatigue. “Don’t get overheated or
dehydrated, and don’t go till you drop.”
n Ask your doctor about medicine interactions.
Mild, over-the-counter medications that
people commonly take for motion sickness,
sinus infections, jet lag and flying anxiety
have no effect on disease-modifying drugs.
They could interact with drugs that treat
MS symptoms like pain and spasticity, but
generally aren’t a problem, Dr. Giesser says.
n Ask your doctor whether you’ll need any
vaccinations before you go abroad, if they’re
safe for you to take, and what side effects
n If you’re planning to walk a lot and have
mobility or balance issues, ask your healthcare
provider about assistive devices. If you need
a wheelchair in the U.S., companies like
Scootaround ( scootaround.com) offer manual
and power chair options as well as scooters.
For more information on renting devices
abroad check out newdisability.com/wheel
n Talk to your insurance company about
coverage when you’re out of your home
region, especially if you’re planning to leave
the country. Traveler’s insurance is quite
affordable and may bridge gaps in existing