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!
At what age were you diagnosed with narcolepsy?