From the Archives: Summer 2004 Lupus Now magazine
Traveling Wisely: Plan for your own pace
by Anne Glusker
A life with lupus shouldn’t mean life without vacation. Special needs require some careful travel planning and some reflection about what you personally can and can’t do. But after that, the sky’s pretty much the limit.
“People with lupus need to learn how to be in tune with their own bodies,” says travel agent Debra Briscoe Kerper. “They can plan trips that allow them to go at their own pace -- but first they need to figure out what that pace is.”
She ought to know. She’s had lupus for 34 years -- and in that time has visited numerous countries by land, sea and air. She’s also planned many trips for clients through her firm, Easy Access Travel (www.easyaccesstravel.com; 800-920-8989).
The way to a successful vacation is advance planning. “Think about your normal routine at home,” suggests Kerper. “What causes you to stress out or feel fatigued? As we know, stress and fatigue can both lead to flares.”
Kerper advises the following plan of action:
- Let your doctor know where you’re going -- and for how long.
- Ask if there are any special medications you should take along.
- Ask what you should do if you start feeling ill while you’re gone.
- Even if you don’t use a wheelchair at home, consider renting one for the trip.
- Plan an itinerary that allows for a good mix of rest and recreation -- if possible, one that lets you make your own schedule based on how you feel each day.
“People with lupus would probably not do well on a bus tour where you see eight cities in seven days. The pace would just be too fast,” says Kerper, who is a major cruise enthusiast. She raves about wheelchair- and scooter-accessibility on cruises, as well as their indoor pools and covered promenade decks -- great for folks who are photosensitive.
Another bonus: “Your room is nearby if you need to rest, and there are always doctors and nurses on hand,” she says. “And if you push yourself one day, the next day can be a ‘sea day’, where you can lie on a chaise lounge and have someone serve you!”
If you stick to land, Stephanie Lanier of the LFA, North Texas Chapter advises picking your hotel room with care. “Ask for a room that conforms to ADA standards,” she says. “They will have grab bars, larger showers, elevated toilet seats, higher sinks and lever-style door handles. Also, the furniture is usually placed farther apart, making it easier to maneuver a wheelchair.”
If the ADA rooms are already booked, Lanier recommends asking for a corner room -- they tend to be larger -- on the lowest possible floor for easy in-and-out access. Other questions to ask: Are the hotel’s pools and spas handicapped-accessible? Do wheelchair shuttles operate in the area? (Hotel shuttles are not usually equipped with lifts.) “And remember, wheelchairs get snapped up quickly at most museums and sites,” she cautions. “So aim to get there early.”
Getting Away From It All
Access-Able Travel Source (www.access-able.com). Click on the “Travel Professionals” listing for agents who focus on special-needs travel from South Africa to New Zealand (and lots in between).
Wunago (www.wunago.com, 602-768-3497). A comprehensive database of wheelchair-accessible cruises, resorts, theme parks, museums, hotels, sports facilities and nature attractions.