Whether it is a short trip or a week long vacation:

Due to the fact that I am slightly agoraphobic and a germaphobe, I find it easy to stay put and I do not travel well. In fact leaving my home for any reason can be a huge source of stress. These days, I still have anxiety from the winter months when I had three hospital visits from trying to get in and out of the car. To avoid a total breakdown I must be realistic about my limitations and do a lot of planning because even I have to venture out once in a while.

If you have a chronic illness, and you intend to leave the comforts of home, you will need to do some planning for success. The longer you will be gone the more fine tuned your plan should be.

Find an online map of the venue:

Especially if you are going for the first time to a hospital, mall, airport or a casino visit. Knowledge is power and this power will make the difference between success and failure.

It will help you to know where the washrooms are because according to Murphy’s Law as soon as you get short of breath you will need to use the bathroom.

Leave lots of time so that you are not feeling so rushed that you get short of breath. Know where you can easily stop to rest because most of us cannot do the the entire trip without a rest.

Know your exit route and be mindful of them as you walk through the venue. Make note of what is around the exits. Note certain stores or kiosks or even what lights and signs are there so you don’t get lost on the way back. You can even take a picture so that you won’t be mistaken. No point in wasting your valuable resources going around in circles.

Envision what it will look like once you are there.

Where will you sit, do you need to bring your own chair? Well you might if it is a barbecue or an outdoor visit, in fact you may have a favourite chair that you prefer and travels well, so feel free to take it. Remember at an outdoor venue to stay away from open flames even if you don’t use 02.

Lots of beaches and picnic grounds now have mats to help with wheelchairs and walker accessibility. Ask if your venue does and how best to access it.

Do you need your walker?

How far will you have to walk from the car to the entrance and then to the washroom?  I prefer to use my walker because the basket carries my tanks and all the other stuff I need to bring with me, while providing me with a seat if necessary. Remember that if someone is driving you, take your wheelchair permit for parking and don’t be afraid to use it.

Don’t be afraid to be over prepared:

Take extra clothing in case of an accident and always bring a jacket in case the weather changes.  I like to use a shawl or a wrap because with the first breeze I am freezing, and they will usually cover my legs as well.

Get your tanks ready and remember that if you are totally dependant on supplemental oxygen, take an extra tank. You can’t depend on no traffic jams or a smooth ride to and from. Always take extra tubing and cannulas.

On a road trip you would want to ask for a portable concentrator and extra tanks. It is best to talk to your 02 supplier to inquire about travel options, you might be surprised.

Always have a medication list on you phone and include all medications and puffers, even ones that you only use occasionally. If you are going overnight make sure that you have refills up to date and enough for an extra few days just in case.

They Say that Cleanliness Is next to Godliness

and some people and venues just don’t put enough time and energy into making public spaces clean enough.  I take sanitary wipes with me in a small travel case. I use them to clean my face and hands on the spot saving steps when I can and to clean public spaces such as armrests and tables that are used by others and may be contaminated.

The success is in the planning and I plan early and plan for the worst so that even a trip to the hairdressers is a success.


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