I had reason to give the subject of MS travel hacks some deep thought recently. Here I was just coming back from a trip and feeling better than ever as usual. But then I came across this post on IG by a fellow MS warrior, alluding to feeling unwell on returning from her trip due to the food, alcohol, excessive walking, and even feeling like she was in an MS flair.
That’s when I realized that what I do when I travel is not what many pwMS do. And it might be a good idea to share some of what I do that has me feeling great after a trip, rather than run down and my MS doing worse.
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail. See, before MS, I was a super organized person. And despite cognitive decline, I didn’t lose all of those skills thankfully.
Some of the things I always planned ahead for on our family trips are food, water, activities, fitness, supplements and medications, fun, downtime, and sleep. Yes, downtime had to come into the equation because when we first got married, my husband would fill up every day with activities. That was exhausting. It didn’t feel like vacation. Once we had a kid with sensory issues that literally needed rest days from Disney, it became even more apparent that so as not to need a vacay after the vacay, the vacay needed to feel less like work. 😆
And I just needed to update the routine to fit in with MS these days.
Food Related MS Travel Hacks
Even before MS, we always planned for food. We were never a family that planned to eat all of our meals out on vacation, because that usually meant weight gain. For me, it would be at least 5lb of weight gain, regardless of whether we exercised and stayed active on the trip. So we had developed a habit as a family of staying in condos. This was easy as Marriott timeshare owners then, way before Air BnBs became all the rage. Or efficiency suites at the least. With a refrigerator and microwave, and better still with a stove too, we could rustle up so many things.
Our first chore on arrival in any city in the world was always grocery shopping. So whether it was New York, Orlando, St. Thomas, Or a city in Tenerife Spain, we always found our way to the grocery store pretty quick.
And if it was something like a cruise, then we consciously went for tons of fruits for breakfast with proteins and either go light or skip the bread. We chose healthy options for lunch like a salad, and tried not to overdo dinner. We also went easy on desserts and went to the gym daily.
With an MS diagnoses, the issue of food became even more important. It wasn’t just about weight and general health anymore, it had to be anti-inflammatory for me. Initially we focused on gluten and dairy free. As I dialed down more on nutrition, I paid attention to other food sensitivities, avoided sugar and alcohol, and went for organic foods.
How Did I Prepare For Our Last Trip Food-Wise?
Our last trip to St. Thomas had us shopping for organic produce, which I had researched ahead. We also took some things with us like canned coconut milk, and canned sardines. I took enough organic ginger and lemon for my first few mornings of warm detox water. We took organic spices. Anything that was non-perishable, we took with us such as chia seeds for me, and oatmeal for the rest of the family. I even took my sprouted nuts, almond and walnuts, as well as sprouted pumpkin seeds. And I took my shake powders like my red maca and hemp hearts.
It is also important to have your digestive enzymes, especially ones for gluten and dairy. This is important even if you don’t regularly take digestive enzymes. Enzymedica is a good one for gluten and dairy.
I had a binder on me at all times. Even if I did end up eating food I wasn’t so sure of, I could take a binder such as activated charcoal, or one containing activated charcoal. My fave is GI Detox. This will bind to all things that could be toxic to me, and some good minerals too. But it wouldn’t matter if it protected me that one time.
Since I don’t drink alcohol at home, I didn’t drink alcohol on the trip. When I used to drink alcohol, I kept my intake on trips to just about the same. If you suddenly start to drink excessively on vacay, that could negatively impact you.
Water Related MS Travel Hacks
This might sound trivial for for example on a cruise, if your choice is bottled water, you need to order it ahead. That way, it’s in your cabin when you get on board.
We have done different things on trips. We have boiled water to drink. We have opted for bottled water. But my favorite is if we have access to some kind of filtered water.
On our last trip, I tried to get enough filtered water from the gym for all of my drinking purposes. I used that as an excuse for some extra exercise to run to the gym when I needed more water.
It is important to stay hydrated at all times to keep things moving and help flush out toxins.
I also do structure my drinking water on vacay now by using the terahertz wand on the water I drink, at least in the morning.
Activities and Mobility Aids Related MS Travel Hacks
My magic word here is pacing. And asking for help. There is no need for heroism. At the airport, use the wheelchair service. Or your own scooter. Or walker. Take your cane. Mobility aids are your friend, even if you don’t need it all the time.
Let go of the ego!
Don’t push yourself to do too much and listen to your body. Don’t walk miles if your body can’t take it. Take breaks. Walk at your own pace.
Sit out some activities and let the rest of the group do their thing. Don’t feel pressured to be a part of everything.
Even if you don’t normally use mobility aids, if you’re going to Europe, or anywhere that calls for public transportation such as trains and buses rather than taxis and ubers, take a folding cane at the least.
I recommend the Folding Flipstick Seat Cane. It folds into a bag, and has a seat for you to rest if needed. That was all I took with me on our last trip and it worked so well even when the wheelchair assist at the airport was backed up for hours. The Atlanta airport is crazy busy but this little device got me through it.
Fitness Related MS Travel Hacks
I have in recent years taken my own fitness gear with me on our trips. But even before then, if there was a gym, I went regularly. If there was no gym, I walked around in the pool for resistance, since I don’t swim, and took walks on the beach.
I always had a plan for fitness.
The gear that I have been taking recently are my own towel yoga mat, and different types of resistance bands. Before my back started to resist it, I would take my jumprope with me. That is a very good exercise for travel, as you can do it in a hotel room. There’s usually enough space near the door, even in a small New York hotel room.
On my last trip, I knew they had water aerobics as a free activity offered by the resort at least, but they had actually expanded the offerings at the Marriott and had 2 fitness classes daily. One land based, and one water based. It was amazing.
Supplements Related MS Travel Hacks
Always make sure your supplements and not just your medications are in your carry-on baggage. That is the only way to ensure that they do not get lost or delayed.
For me, my supplements are as important as my medications so I pack them together. I had a whole hand luggage dedicated to medications and supplements.
I can replace food way more easily than I can supplements while on vacation.
Biohacking Tools Related MS Travel Hacks
On my last trip, I took my Vielight Duo, Terahertz Wand, and AMD IonClease Solo (foot detox for the kiddo) which needed a whole hand luggage by the way (see pic to the left). But I could fit the other toys inside it.
I’ve had the Vielight Duo the longest and I can’t go anywhere without it. It is a brain photobiomodulation device which has both infrared and red light therapy. This helps to energize the mitochondria. As we know, MS is fundamentally an issue with the functioning of our mitochondria. This is why Dr. Terry Wahls TED Talk is titled Minding Your Mitochondria.
Fun & Rest Days Related MS Travel Hacks
Of course there has to be fun on vacation, right? But plan fun that is appropriate for you. Don’t plan to go on the party Catamaran if you don’t drink alcohol or you don’t drink a lot of alcohol. That’s like planning to fail. It is not going to end well.
Don’t plan for long tiring structured hikes with a group, unless you have no mobility or muscle fatigue issues.
We have actually done less and less structured activity over the years so that we can go at my pace.
And we definitely do not have a plan for every single day so that we can just be. Watch the sun rise, or the sun set. Or both. Lounge on the beach for hours. Take a leisurely walk on the beach with your boo in the evening. Sit poolside for hours. Do yoga on the beach. Meditate on the beach. Get your grounding in. Be one with nature.
It might seem like getting enough sleep on vacation should not be a problem but if one doesn’t plan for it, one can easily not get enough sleep.
I remember the times when we would leave on an all day excursion at 6am. And even on this last trip, my morning workout class was at 8:30am. So if I did not manage the rest of my day well, or go to bed on time, I could have easily not slept enough on the trip.
During sleep is when we heal. Let us prioritize sleep while on vacation.
Lastly, check with your doctor before implementing anything new. I am NOT your doctor, though I am a doctor.
This is purely educational, not giving you medical advice, and it is certainly not tailored specifically to you because I don’t have enough information on you to do that.