As an adult, travel is an important aspect of my career. I don't travel constantly, but I do travel regularly. I live with several conditions that make travel more challenging than it might be for most people. The fact that I'm legally blind is, to outward appearances, what would seem to interefere most with travel. But it's actually the easiest thing to deal with. As long as I have a good travel itinerary, store important information in an accessible and non-digital format, and am not afraid to ask for assistance navigating through airports and hotels when needed, it's a non-issue. The only other considerations I make for my vision are to ensure that my various devices (iPad, BrailleNote) are charged up before a flight, since neither the on-board entertainment systems nor print materials are accessable, ensuring I bring earbuds, and (for really long trips) bringing a backup white cane.
The chronic conditions I live with pose a far greater challenge on me than my level of vision. Type 1 diabetes brings with it a heap of medical peraphernalia; severe food allergies (and eating a low-carb diet to manage my diabetes) makes eating when travelling a major challenge; and severe environmental allergies, asthma, and eczema mean that I have to be careful with what I'm exposed to on airplanes and in hotels, and during daily life in general. Over the years I've found strategies that have helped me deal with each of these factors.
First up when going on any trip is packing. Ensuring that I don't forget anything is extremely important and probably the most stressful part of the trip for me. Having been stranded with insulin but no pen needles, a failed continuous glucose monitor (CGM) sensor and no test strips, spending hours in an airport without any food to eat, or having my insulin pump alarm that the battery is low when I have no replacement on hand are not experiences I'd like to repeat.
double pocket SPI-BELT that fits an EpiPen, a tube of glucose tablets, an inhaler, and if needed can also fit a second EpiPen (or a glucagon kit), glucose gel, and a small GoTubb container containing medication like Benadryl and Advil. I clip my Dexcom receiver to the belt so it's easily accessible, and of course my pump is always clipped nearby as well. I always bring my own safe, low-carb snacks and meals with me (containing no liquids) and never eat meals provided by the airline. If my backpack ends up being stored in an overhead compartment, I have a bag available where I can store my food, entertainment devices, cane, and glucose meter under my seat. I don't currently bring a mask on flights, but having reacted to both food people next to me were eating and cat and dog dander on flights in the past, I will likely get this Respro allergy mask and bring it with me just in case I end up sitting beside someone with a cat (also for use when cleaning and during horrible wildfire summers).
Once the flight is over and I've found my way to the hotel, I set up the room in a way that works for me. I have a twin sized Allersac, basically a portable dust mite cover, that I put on the bed. If needed, I call the front desk and request non-feather pillows. I disregard the hotel soap, shampoo, and conditioner in favour of my own versions that I've brought in GoToob containers, which won't aggravate my eczema. (If travelling to colder climates, I've also learned that it's important to pre-test hats and gloves, something I discovered on a recent trip to an area with -25°C weather where the toque and gloves I'd brought, which I hadn't worn in a long time, made my skin feel like it was sunburnt and break out in a rash.) I also put food I've brought in my checked luggage into the hotel fridge. I never put insulin or other medication in there due to the risk of freezing it by accident. If I'm travelling to a hot location where medication may overheat, I put it in one of several Frio cooling pouches that I've bought over the years.
Eeating with both severe food allergies and a low-carb diet for diabetes is a major part of my travel preparations. I have two Pack-It lunch bags, a snack sized one and a deluxe sized one, that I use to bring food that requires refrigeration with me. I put food that doesn't require refrigeration in a small packing cube. I bring all food, plus the freezable lunch bags, in my checked luggage, not in my carry-on luggage as there may be restrictions around liquids and ice packs with carry-on luggage. It's important to check and follow any prohibitions around food if crossing international borders. I bring other helpful supplies, including a small cutting board, a set of utensils (with only a table knife, no sharp knives, and ensuring they are declared to customs if travelling across a border), Tupperware containers (regular ones and collapsible ones), paper towels and plastic bags, and a small container of dish soap. I've also recently purchased a small collapsible travel kettle, because many hotel rooms these days only have Keurig machines, and water from them tastes foul. When travelling through customs, I find it very helpful to type up a list of all food that I'm bringing with a note at the top stating that I'm bringing so much food due to severe food allergies and Type 1 diabetes. I've always handed over the note and had no problems whatsoever, which makes for a stress-free experience.
My final preparations are that I always wear my MedicAlert bracelet. I pick that brand in particular because it has emergency contact information on file. I also frequently (though not always) let colleagues I'm travelling with know to get emergency medical help if I don't wake up in the morning, since I have a history of severe overnight lows that continue even though I've been using a Dexcom at all times for the past three years. I also usually mention where my EpiPen is in my bag and give a brief demonstration of how to use it. Although I bring glucagon on trips, it's intended for mini-dosing only, and I don't expect any colleagues to use it.
All of this may seem like a lot of work ... and it is. But it gets easier each time, to the point that it becomes almost routine. And it's worth it to be able to travel in relative relaxation, minimizing the risk of blood sugar swings, allergic reactions, and other medical issues from rearing their ugly head. Before I started implementing these strategies I had allergic reactions on planes and in restaurants and entire days (or nights) spent in my hotel room sick from diabetes, allergies, or both. That is not a fun way to travel! Fortunately, these preparations pay off in allowing me to enjoy the trip work, learn, relax, or join in on whatever everyone else is doing.