Traveling With Medical Supplies: Lighten the Load with These Hacks

A palm tree against a clear blue sky with road signs pointing to exotic locations

Having a lot of medical equipment or supplies to haul around can put a damper on your desire to go on adventures outside of your home. The lugging, packing, unpacking, and setup may make you feel that it’s too much trouble to just get out of the door.

I’ll be honest. It takes our family almost a full day just to pack for a trip. Out of the six of us, half need specialized equipment or medications. We have a list, and we’re checking it twice. But over the years we’ve streamlined some of the processes. Here are some things we’ve learned.

Medications

Go ahead and sort your medications for the duration of the trip. When you are busy traveling and out of routine, it is much easier to forget if you’ve taken your daily meds. There are many types of pill organizers. Most hold a week’s worth of pills and have slots for AM and PM. But you can also find ones that have up to four slots a day, or that sort up to a month’s worth of pills at a time.

For medications that you take “as needed” you may want to find smaller containers to store a few doses in rather than bringing entire bottles. I’ve even used a (new) contact container as a pill box to carry a seldom-used medication. And sometimes over-the-counter meds can be purchased in smaller, travel-sized bottles.

Our family puts together a “medicine bag” where we keep all of our medications together. It’s the size of a toiletries bag, and it has handles on the top, which make it easy to grab. When we pack the car for a road trip, we make sure this bag is always accessible. That means it’s up front with the passengers or it’s on top of the pile in the back. We do this to avoid situations where we have to unpack half the car to get to a needed medication when our travel plans have us on the road later than expected.

Supplies

When packing supplies, we count out enough for the number of days we are going to be gone and then add one or two more days’ worth. If weather or other circumstances delay your return, you don’t want to be caught short.

One thing that can be helpful when organizing these supplies is making them into daily packs. Gallon sized Ziplock bags are perfect for this. For example, if you use intermittent catheter supplies, instead of throwing a week’s worth of catheters, cath packs, and continence supplies into a box or bag, sort out what you need for each day and place those supplies into a single Ziplock bag. Label the bags with the days of the week. Then, each day you can pull out the bag you need, rather than hunting around and counting out supplies each day. (Or each trip to the bathroom.) The same thing applies to wound care supplies, feeding supplies, or anything you use on a daily basis. We even pack our service dog’s food in single-serving sized sandwich bags!

Medical Equipment

Where to put the wheelchairs, walkers, grab bars, and toileting systems?  All this equipment may make you feel like you need to rent a U-Haul trailer to pull on the back of your vehicle. Our family owns a 12 passenger Sprinter van. When we go on big trips, we remove the back row to have more space. But that’s probably not necessary for smaller families. One of the best ways to get around the equipment issue is to buy lighter, portable items that can be used when you’re on the go.

Bathroom supplies seem to take up the most space. Instead of bringing your full, rigid, toileting system, try using a device like the Foldeasy Toilet Support. Pairing it with a lightweight Plastic Toilet Seat Riser helps you simulate the support you would find in an integrated system while breaking down for storage in only a fraction of the space.

Worried about adequate stability in the bathrooms you’re visiting? Pick up a few Easy Install Bath Safety Grip Handles. They’re cheap, strong, and apply easily to most surfaces. It’s possible your hotel may be out of accessible rooms, or your daughter’s home may not be equipped in the same manner as yours. Bringing your own support eliminates worry.

ILA wants you to travel with independence and confidence. Check out the links above for hygiene helpers that are designed for travel. Visit vacation destinations and get out of the cold!

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