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This blog post is a public service announcement (PSA).

I know that many of us with a mental illness or other disability don’t travel much because we can’t afford it, or because of all the details that go into it, or the fear of being far from our doctors, or a familiar pharmacy, etc. But we do travel, and this time of year more people are traveling than ever.

My husband’s father and his wife came to visit from overseas. They arrived on Friday night. So far we do not know where their luggage is. Thankfully, they put a week’s worth of medication in their carry-on, but they are staying for three months, and the remaining pills are in their checked bags. If you have an illness that requires you to take medications every day and you are traveling, never put your medication in your checked luggage. I always separate my medication into two groups. I put enough to get me through the vacation or trip in both places. I put one group in my purse and the other group in my carry-on. I always take twice as much medication as I need.

We took my in-laws to our pharmacy last night and asked what we needed to do to get them more medication if the airline is unable to locate their luggage. The pharmacist said that they couldn’t accept prescriptions from overseas so we will need to make an appointment and have my in-laws see a doctor here for new prescriptions. Obviously, this takes time, effort, and money. This is not what you want to be doing when you are far from home.

I know we will be able to take care of this situation for my in-laws (thank goodness), but not without stress, worries, etc. Also, it is possible we will need to go to a couple or a few doctors before one will prescribe medication to someone they don’t know. UGH.

Traveling can be a rewarding experience for anyone, but it can be particularly rewarding if you have a mental illness and you find your world is shrinking (my doctor has said this is what is happening to me – doing less, and less, taking fewer and fewer risks and trying fewer and fewer things). I need to take the opportunity to travel to open up my world, but there is a lot of planning that goes into taking a trip for me, and I can easily say that the handling of my medications is the top priority.

One last thing about this, if you live in a disaster zone, please keep an emergency kit by your door with at least a week’s worth of medication in it. I live in earthquake country, and I keep some cash, copies of my ID, and a week or more worth of medication in a bag in the hallway by the door.

Having a chronic illness of any kind takes so much work and care. It isn’t enough to simply get a diagnosis, take your medications, and visit your doctor every six months. There is a lot of work that goes into managing an illness, and I hope we can all be successful at it because our health and possibly our life depends on it.