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  • Eli Stuart (they/them)

Traveling While Disabled: My Pack List

[Image Description: A dark blue suitcase packed with clothes sits on a wooden floor. in the center of the picture are two white hands folding masks and hand sanitizer. End of Image Description]



Personally, it’s been a long time since I have traveled far or gone on vacation. Past vacations didn't come with extra baggage due to my disability as it wasn’t prominent enough at the time or whatnot. Having just got back from a three-day vacation, I found a variety of items packed to accommodate my disabilities and hope this is a helpful list for others like me while packing or for non-disabled people to get an idea as to why there may be these “extra” items.


Heating Pad

My heating pad is a necessity for me. Every night I use it at least for an hour on my neck/back. The use increases when I’m having a flare in my neck/back as well as when I’m sore from more activity than usual (ie: walking longer paths than usual, being in a car for a longer period, etc). I personally find heat helpful for pain, so this really aids me day-to-day.


Biofreeze

Admittedly, I use Biofreeze a lot less than my heating pad. However, you never know when a flare is going to hit and Biofreeze is able to work more evenly on my hands and wrist than trying to wrap my heating pad around them.


Medications

This is a multi-pronged type of item consisting of Daily/regular meds, as-needed medication, and over-the-counter medication (OTC).


I personally have a great number of medications I take daily. For this reason, I bring pre-filled pill boxes for the days needed instead of carrying the whole bottle (for example: Leaving Tuesday morning and arriving Thursday night, I brought Tue-Thurs as I have both meds in the morning and night. The one exception was three meds that were taken at a time other than morning or night (2 in the afternoon, 1 in the evening) that I did bring the whole bottle for.


As-needed medication in my case is primarily for migraines. Again, you never know when a migraine will strike and to get a migraine without such medication would make the whole trip miserable.


Finally, we reach OTC medications. I brought ibuprofen in case I got a headache (different from a migraine, for those who don’t know the difference see this article). I brought an anti-itch cream as I sometimes get stress/anxiety rashes, plus it helps if you get bit by mosquitos. I also brought peppermint drops, something I find helps nausea (which I experience quite often likely due to digestive issues related to fibromyalgia).


Noise-Canceling Headphones

I ended up using my noise-canceling headphones while in a museum as there were a bunch of summer camps full of loud children (not necessarily bad of them) that bounced off the marble walls, creating a lot of immovable noise. While yes, they are loud to anyone, noise-canceling headphones don’t eliminate sound, they just dampen it and mostly eliminate smaller noises like the AC or quieter conversations which reduces the stimuli around me. This prevents me from going into sensory overload and being overwhelmed and miserable.

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