Monday, June 10, 2013

Surviving frequent travel for medical needs

As I get more comfortable sharing our story, I have a lot of ideas and tips and experiences.  Our household has some chronic health issues that are life long and require regular, specialized care.  Among the many tips are my travel tactics that have helped us to stay somewhat sane.  We travel to a world renowned clinic for care for 2 members of our household, at nearly 400 miles each way.  We do this on a regular schedule, and have come to learn that packing and unpacking are big time wasters for us.  There are certain things we try to keep in the vehicle at all times, and a few that are in the closet, ready to go at a moment's notice.  At the height of our medical needs in the past, we were making this trek once a week.  We've had varying schedules since then.  Every 3 weeks was nice, but got to be too much.  For now, we are spread out a bit more and finding a groove to it.

Among the things we depend on to get us through:

A bag that is always packed with toiletries and laundry supplies just for purpose of travel, as well as a few odds and ends for the "kitchen", such as a can opener and a microwavable container with a lid, and a small stash of napkins.  I also keep a dish cloth or microfiber rag or two in there to help with dish washing as needed.

Dollar store supplies for in the vehicle:
plastic shoe box
zipper bags
basic medicines-pain relievers, antacids, cold/cough essentials, and an allergy med or two
garbage bags
bowl or 2 with lids
garbage can/basket
basic cleaning wipes

These things do not have to be high quality or all that durable.  They are the "oops! I forgot to grab..." part of my plan.  Plastic, or even cheap metal utensils can always come in handy for a meal on the go that didn't get the needed items or a quick pick up from a grocery store. The zipper bags can contain quick leftovers from a meal on the go to be saved for later.  The medicines, I just get for the emergency times when we can't get to our regular prescriptions in our luggage or when we meet someone else who is without.  It happens regularly.  Most of those supplies fit in the shoe box.  Garbage bags and can?  Well, travel is messy.  Especially with little ones.  It gets even worse when someone gets carsick.  An ice cream bucket lined with a plastic shopping bag is my favorite. Bags lining a bucket are EASY to clean up, and in my opinion, more sanitary than wiping out a bucket with a paper towel and trying to dispose of things in a rest area.  Cleaning wipes need no introduction. 

I also try to always keep a small coin purse with several dollars in coins in it for parking meters, toll roads, and incidental needs from a vending machine.  I try to keep another in our luggage but that doesn't always happen,.

A blanket and a change of clothing and a few diapers or feminine products and baby wipes for each traveling person is ALWAYS nice.  Even if it is only a day trip, things happen.  You could have someone spill on you, your clothing get snagged getting in or out of the vehicle, an unexpected change in weather, anything can happen and you are left with clothing that isn't what you'd be comfortable wearing for the rest of the day.

Phone directories.  Either your own essential and possibly used numbers or a regular old phone book.  We have learned to never count on cell phone reception in all areas, and having numbers on hand has been a life saver. 
Charging cords for all phones.  We keep one for each phone in each vehicle so that there is no concern of being caught without one.  I also keep one in my luggage at all times for indoor charging needs.

I am sure there are things that I am forgetting, but we often find people who are caught off guard and have traveled hundreds of miles and are "stranded" without one or two essentials.  It is well worth the time to share the ideas that have worked for us. 


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