At almost 40, I traveled all by myself, for the first time ever, in my life. I love to travel! I just usually travel with family or friends.
I was invited by the National MS Society to attend their Newly Engage MS Activist Workshop, in person, and in Washington D.C.! (Separate post on that later!)
I have been to D.C. once before but it was a very long time ago, and I don’t remember much. I vaguely remember going to the Lincoln Memorial, I think, but that’s about it.
Since I would be traveling alone, I wanted to pack everything into a carry on so that I wouldn’t need to deal with waiting for my luggage to be offloaded from the plane. This presented a few challenges: SPACE and WEIGHT. I needed to be able to lift it up and down from the overhead compartment. I needed to be able to roll it AND roll my walker through crowds of people at the airport. And most importantly, I needed to pack all my MSfit gear plus clothes /toiletries/everything else into a carry on. I was going for about 4 days so I had to carefully plan.
After 10 years of living with MS, I have learned that it is better to be prepared with items you might need than to be without them. I get very overheated, very quickly. I can’t always tell it is happening until it’s too late. Often that means ending up lightheaded and struggling to walk. I have to take this into consideration when packing because I wouldn’t have anyone with me to help me out if something were to happen. What I struggled most with packing was WHAT MS GEAR did it make sense to pack just in case? I carefully selected a few essentials I decided needed to come along with me.
I know D.C. has a tendency to get humid so I packed the cooling vest that I wear in humidity. It is basically a bigger version of those tubes you can get wet and wear around your neck. This is the same idea that you can get them wet, they swell up and then retain their moisture to help cool you off.
Next, I packed my Blackout Umbrella.
MS Pro Tip: GET YOURSELF OR THE MSFIT YOU LOVE A BLACKOUT UMBREALLA!!
Mine folds up very small so I wasn’t worried about it taking up too much space. Blackout Umbrella’s are spectacular! They help block the sun and literally, when you use it, it is a few degrees cooler under the umbrella. In Southern California heat, I will take those precious lower degrees however I can. It is small enough I leave it in my car year round so I have it no matter what. I have used it while swimming, walking into a store, waiting in line to pick up my kids. It is a lifesaver!
I also packed my cane. It folds up. I don’t always require a walking aid. Sometimes a walker is too bulky. Sometimes a cane isn’t enough. Again, better to have it and not use it than wish you did. (I didn’t. I used my walker for anywhere farther than the Presidential Ballroom where the workshop was held.)
It can be intimidating to be a woman who moves slow in this world so while it might seem a bit extreme, I decided to purchase a Travel Door Jam. It gave me extra peace to know I was adding another layer of protection while I was traveling by myself. You can find travel door jams on Amazon for about $9. It was easy to install on my hotel door. When I tested it, my door didn’t move at all.
Lastly, I saw on Tic Toc that you can wrap your shoes in shower caps so the icky bottom of your shoes don’t get on your nice clean clothes. I tried it and it worked great!
The airline forgot to move my walker onto the plane from my second flight so when I landed at home, I realized my walker got to hangout an extra day in Phoenix. It was no big deal. They were apologetic and handled it quickly to get it back to me.
Has that ever happened to you? It was a first for me. Do you have any travel tips for traveling with essentials? Is there anything you back NO MATTER WHAT?