Condensed from Bp Hope www.dbsalliance.org
Michael S. describes gradually shifting his sleep schedule before a cross-country trip—then wishing he’d brought snacks because none of his flights had meal service. Leah N. ended up staying five days longer than planned on a trip to Europe because of weather disruptions, so she now travels with a month’s supply of meds.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists gives the exact same advice: Be sure to pack extra. In addition:
Carry a list of all the medicines you take in your purse or wallet. Include the phone numbers of your prescribing doctors and pharmacist.
If you are flying, keep medications in their labeled containers, place them together in a plastic baggie for easy access, and put that in your carry-on bag. This not only saves them from going astray, but also avoids extremes of hot and cold in the plane’s baggage compartment. •
If you’ll be changing time zones, consult with your doctor or pharmacist to develop a plan for when to take your medicine. Otherwise, be sure to stick with your regular schedule even if you’re in vacation mode.
Some psychiatric medications make your skin more sensitive to the sun—so that’s another conversation to have with your practitioner. You may have to limit your exposure, and definitely be vigilant about sunscreen.
ART OF RELAXATION
Lack of a regular routine isn’t the only worry when you travel. Although it may sound counterintuitive, vacations actually can be physically and emotionally taxing— whether because of a hectic sightseeing schedule, camping out on a sleeping pad, or family demands
SET EXPECTATIONS. Before vacationing with family, Kerry Bakken of Pennsylvania talks with her husband about what kind of support she thinks she may need to maintain stability. “We talk about what’s going to help the trip go smoothly,” she explains, “and I make sure to ask my husband while traveling to help track my moods.”
JOIN CLUB MEDS. A few weeks before you leave, check your medication supply and get refills if necessary. Take along more than you need so you don’t get caught short if there are unexpected delays in getting home. If you’re flying, pack meds in your carry-on bag.
HAVE FUN—WITHIN BOUNDARIES. There’s such a thing as being “overly conscientious” when you’re on vacation, says psychiatrist Joanna Cheek. After all, you want to have a good time and make good memories, or what’s the point? That can happen as long as you arrange your activities around the basics of self-care: wake up around the same time every morning, monitor how much social time you’re having, stay alert to signs of a mood shift, and so on.
HAVE REGULAR MEALS.
Michael Scott made sure to do this while at Disney World with his two children. “We always had meals around the same time every day, which is healthy in itself, but this also set up a routine that matched with sleep and exercise habits.” (Although as far as exercise goes, anyone who’s been to Disney World knows getting in lots of walking is no problem.)
Robin L. Flanigan is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in People magazine, US Airways Magazine and other national and regional publications. She lives in Rochester, New York.