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Traveling with Parkinson's

Traveling with Parkinson's

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In reply to you question of travel tips for people with Parkinson's, perhaps I can be of some help to you. I, CareGiver for my wife, do a lot of international travel for business and she comes with me a few times a year.

Last year we took a train from Frankfurt (Germany) to Amsterdam (Holland). My wife uses a three wheel battery powered scooter. The Frankfurt hotel arranged with the local taxi company to have take us with their "handicap" taxi which is a hi-top ramp equipped van.

Additionally, in Germany, France, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Spain and Italy there are TRAVELER AID organizations. After giving them the necessary notifications, I got the telephone number from the hotel, they actually met us at the handicap entrance of the main train station. From that point until the train departed they took over. With my wife's scooter (or it could have been a wheelchair) they escorted us to the exact car where we had seats reserved. To our amazement, there were two healthy train workers waiting for us with a mechanical lift especially made to fit the width of the chair/scooter and the train door entrance. In two minutes she was belted in and raised to the level of the train where she scooted herself into the car. WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In Amsterdam, the workers were waiting for us at the train car door and the exact procedure was repeated in reverse up to the Holiday Inn (near the main station).

In all the other countries the taxi companies ARE REQUIRED to maintain a number of handicapped van taxis. These are available on request subject to prior commitments.

Your travel agent can get the phone numbers of the large taxi fleets and the Travelers aid office so you can plan your trip accordingly.

One down side comment.

European countries today DO NOT HAVE in place the legislation that requires public facilities (hotels, restaurants, clubs, department stores etc.) to have exterior ramps or special elevators for wheel chairs. Of course, rest rooms are not yet accommodating either. You must pick and choose accordingly and be creative in this respect. Needless to say that the smoking laws we have here America do not exist by law anywhere else.

Try to stay at large Chain properties (Days INN, Holiday INN, Tulip Hotels), and of course the first class/deluxe hotels and reserve the Handicap room. Its usually on the main floor, closer to the elevator, have larger entrance doors and extra large bathrooms complete with all helpful and thoughtful conveniences.

In South Africa it is not so organized but ALL the Holiday Inn's where we stayed arranged our needs to be taken care of with smiles and with great efficiency.

In Nairobi, Kenya (the city hotels) did the same but you MUST be in direct contact with the Safari Tour Company and make your own arrangements. Its not hard.

Scandinavia is absolutely ready to receive handicapped citizens.

DO NOT EXPECT ANY ASSISTANCE OR CONVENIENCES IN EASTERN EUROPE except in Budapest, Hungary, Warsaw, Poland and in Prague, Czech Rep. ONLY THE LARGEST HOTELS have facilities.... The streets are not kept up and operating with a wheelchair can become comical and dangerous.

The middle east Gulf States, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia have wonderful airlines and hotels but South America/Caribbean have only some good airlines and hotels. The facilities are better than Eastern Europe by far but once outside the main cities (why would you go anyway) there are almost none.

ISRAEL is the only exception and the laws are like our here in America.

To offer a final suggestion.....TAKE A CRUISE....ANYWHERE AND ON ANY POPULAR CRUISE LINE.... ITS THE EASIEST, MOST CONVENIENT AND THE MOST ENJOYABLE FOR THE CAREGIVER AND THE PWP. Just tell them when you make your reservation that you need a handicapped cabin...thats all!!!!!!!

Tomorrow, we are traveling to the Costa del Sol in southern Spain for this years holiday. We rented a ground floor two bedroom private house 150 meters (by scooter) from one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe for $400 A WEEK, rented a large station wagon to carry the scooter for $500 FOR THE MONTH and a European cell phone to keep in touch for $90 FOR THE MONTH.

Oh yes, ALL airlines leaving from America MUST carry the scooter or any other handicapped items FREE....NADA...NO CHARGE regardless of their weight or size. ITS THE LAW....

By-the-way, GREYHOUND IN NORTH AMERICA AND CANADA offer FREE transport for any CareGiver accompanying a handicapped person. Check and reserve in advance.

My father has parkinson's and has, reluctantly, traveled from Texas to California -

The key ingredients are:

  1. leaving plenty of time to get to each location
  2. having wheelchair access available even if not needed at each landing and transfer to other gate
  3. seated near the restroom
  4. briefing the attendants in advance that their assistance may be needed in getting person from chair to bathroom AND, even out of bathroom back to seat
  5. taking a sedative (Valium or Xanax) prior to flight to alleviate undue stress prior to flight
  6. having a thorough understanding of what will happen at each junction of the trip
  7. who will be responsible for them at each landing and departure
  8. easy and accessible flight info in their pocket
  9. whistle around their neck in case they get stranded in hallway, bathroom, elevator, etc.
  10. wearing Depends or whatever makes them feel comfortable if they fear "freezing up" in seat OR bathroom and can't get around
  11. if a male, wearing an external catheter with leg bag if concerned again about going to the bathroom and not getting there on a timely basis

Most importantly - letting them know that they can do this (if they can) - if they can't - they shouldn't be traveling by themselves, but with an attendant -

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