Tips and tricks for traveling with a vestibular disorder
Travel plans can be popular this time of year to spend holidays with family and friends, warm vacation destinations, or other special occasions. Overall, no one really loves traveling, but it can be even more challenging with a vestibular condition.Read below to find some lists of our favorite travel tips with a vestibular disorder and for some specific to different travel types!
How to travel with a vestibular disorder: Preparation is key!
Here are our Top 10 effective tips to help prepare for your upcoming trip and traveling with a vestibular disorder successfully. Keep reading to learn more about how to travel with a vestibular disorder based on specific types of travel!
- Make the first planned trip low key. A short trip or close destination is a good idea to test out traveling and make adjustments for future trips.
- If staying in a condo or hotel, request a lower floor. This will help with any symptoms with heights and reduce time spent in an elevator (or just using the stairs!)
- Make sure you have enough medication prior to your trip. If your meds run out while on your trip, get a refill before travel. Talk to your doctor if it’s a controlled substance to get a plan on how you’re going to have your needed medications for your trip.
- Pack a small bag within your suitcase. This gives you something to easily carry important meds or your vestibular kit on day tips at your new destination.
- Pack a vestibular travel kit. Pack all the things you use for symptom management in one bag. Make sure this bag is easy to access throughout your travels. Store it in your personal item or carry on bag if you have one. It may include:
- Medications (rescue, preventative, over the counter etc)
- Peppermint or ginger (candy or scented oil)
- migraine/blue light glasses (we like avalux if you want to check them out here)
- Ear plugs/noise canceling headphones
- Travel pillow
6. Pack your own pillow. Having your own pillow helps ensure a good nights sleep at your new destination. Some people will order and ship a pillow similar to theirs to where they are traveling to cut down on packing!
7. Stay hydrated throughout your travel day. Taking additional breaks for the bathroom can help keep you active and use it as an opportunity to check in with yourself and take a break if needed.
8. Get a good night’s sleep the night before
9. Eat a good breakfast on travel day.
10. Try to stay active before and during travel. Light walks, different position changes while sitting, seated marches, seated kicks, standing heel raises or sitting/standing can help keep your body moving.
How to travel with a vestibular disorder based on transportation (car, train, plane, boat)
Traveling with a vestibular disorder by car
Driving is a common challenge I hear when working with those who have vestibular conditions. If you’re looking for more driving tips, check out our other blog post on driving here. This list is geared more towards longer driving trips to reach your travel destination. Let’s dive into how to travel with a vestibular disorder by car:
- Pack ahead of time, if you notice something you’re using regularly, put it in your suitcase so you know you won’t forget it.
- Pack up the car the night before
- Sit in the front passenger seat, keep your eyes on the horizon
- Listen to music or audiobooks for entertainment
- If being the driver helps your symptoms, make sure you’re safe to do so! Talk to your doctor about returning to driving and make sure you practice driving for longer periods of time and learn your drive time limit.
- Use gas stops/bathroom stops as time to take a movement break and do gentle stretching, exercise or walking. Use as a time for grounding as well.
- If the drive is more than a few hours, consider flying to cut down on overall time traveling.
Traveling with a vestibular disorder by plane
Traveling by plane can be really daunting, especially after living with a vestibular condition. We at The Vertigo Doctor want you to consider flying as an option, especially if it cuts down travel time considerably. Less time spent with the stresses of traveling means the sooner you can start to rest, relax, and recover! Here are ways for traveling with a vestibular disorder by plane:
- Have your vestibular travel kit with you on the plan and easy to access in the airport and during the flight
- Give yourself plenty of time to reach your gate. Recommended time is usually 2 hours prior to your flight. If you’re not familiar with the airport, or it’s a large airport that involves shuttles, giving yourself more time to rest and ask for help can help reduce the stress of flying! If unsure, ask for help sooner rather than later!
- Try to book direct flights
- Try to avoid flying during really early or really late flights to avoid large shifts in your sleep routine
- If changing time zones, try to slowly adjust your sleep schedule by 15 minutes the days prior to gradually match your time zone if possible.
- Try to sit in the aisle and near the wings. This can help minimize any rocking from the plane and the aisle gives you ample opportunity to get up and move.
- Try to avoid smaller planes that aren’t pressurized
- A travel neck pillow or eye mask can help make yourself comfortable on the plane.
- Ear planes are ear plugs made for air travel to help with pressure changes. Yawning or gum can also help with altitude changes
- Ask doctor for any medication suggestions to help with plane (like a decongestant or rescue med if you don’t have one)
Traveling with a vestibular disorder by train
Trains might not be as common in the United States for longer trips, but these tips may help if you take a train for your daily commute. If you’re also trying to travel to another country or continent that uses trains more for travel such as Europe, check out these tips on how to travel with a vestibular disorder by train:
- Face forward and on the aisle to avoid too much visual stimuli. Looking outside tends to be more challenging.
- Take a short movement break at train stops.
- If the train is moving and you need to get up, it’s okay to use your hands to touch the chairs or overhead luggage compartments for more balance when walking on the train.
- If you have to stand, spread your feet wide to have more support, try finding a pole to hold onto to try to avoid holding your arm overhead for extended periods. If the overhead grips are the only thing available, try to alternate your arms every stop to get a rest.
Traveling with a vestibular disorder by boat
Whether it be by ferry or a an afternoon on the lake, boating is certainly a way of transportation to be prepared for! Here are some considerations when traveling with a vestibular disorder by boat:
- Sit towards the center of boat to reduce rocking
- Try to stay outside on the deck if possible.
- Talk to your doctor about any recommended motion sensitivity medication to bring in addition to your vestibular travel kit
- Sea band or acupressure bands can be helpful for some with sea sickness.
How to recover from traveling with a vestibular disorder
- Congrats on your trip!
- Remind yourself that some “off” sensation or feelings is normal for anyover after a lot of travel and it will get better.
- Try a short walk to help “reset” the system
- Get good night’s sleep
- Grounding, meditation, relaxation.
- Try to make the day after travel a calmer day. Something restful and relaxing. If you want to join a group that’s something more adventurous, try to get there a day early to recover and be ready for it!
If you found this article helpful, check out this other article on our site that has additional information on traveling with a vestibular disorder by clicking here.
Want to learn more about managing your vestibular condition with travel, return to driving, hormonal impacts, and other vestibular tools to get back to your daily life? Find out more below!
Remember: this post is for informational purposes only and may not be the best fit for you and your personal situation. It shall not be construed as medical advice. The information and education provided here is not intended or implied to supplement or replace professional medical treatment, advice, and/or diagnosis. Always check with your own physician or medical professional before trying or implementing any information read here.