Traveling With Narcolepsy in My Carry-on

Traveling is one of those activities that I typically enjoy in the moment. However, leading up to the event can be stressful. As a person with severe anxiety, I tend to overthink every little thing I can.

"What if I have to pee and there are no bathrooms around?"

"What if I get a blister and have to walk around on it all day?"

Some solutions to these problems require a fearless attitude to address. (For example, the easiest thing to do when there are no bathrooms in sight is to pop a squat and let the rivers of nature flow).

Traveling with narcolepsy is different

Learning to travel with narcolepsy is a little different. Other problems that arise while traveling are usually much easier to address if they aren't caused by my disease.

Traveling with narcolepsy feels like having a naughty little gremlin in my carry-on. This gremlin is often determined to create issues for me.

So what is a person with narcolepsy (and wanderlust in their heart) to do about all this?

Traveling alone is not impossible

I used to think that traveling alone would be impossible with my condition. It was gut-wrenching to think of all of the places I wanted to visit, thinking that I was too disabled to have a rich independent life. And who can blame me? It seems like my narcolepsy affects every aspect of my life.

I've lost multiple jobs after college graduation, and I stopped driving for over a year because of this condition. While it won't necessarily be easy for me, I now realize that my independence can be accomplished through a variety of strategies while traveling.

My tips for traveling with narcolepsy

Maintaining a reliable sleep-wake schedule – and stick to it!

This includes making sure to take my medication at the same time every day. I find that having a consistent routine is key to allowing my body to "set" its own internal clock. When traveling, I am careful to keep my narcolepsy medication close, as well as caffeine pills for the road.

Stopping for naps when I get sleep attacks while driving

One way that I plan to make traveling with narcolepsy more accessible is by adding a sleeping cot to the back of my car for particularly long drives. I suspect that this traveling tip will be a game-changer for me. Even just knowing that I have a comfortable nap as an option helps take the edge off of everything. There are a plethora of "van-life" style vehicles. Since my car is on the smaller side, I will need to custom-build the bed frame.

Taking care of my furry friends

Since my dog is a service dog, I don't have to worry about leaving her in the car to fend for herself when I am in public. Usually, I am able to bring her in with me wherever I go. This would make traveling across the continent easier than if I had to constantly lock her up in my car.

Do you have any tips for traveling with narcolepsy? Feel free to share them in the comments below!

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